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NEMU - Neurological and musculoskeletal pain and genetics

NEMUs objective is to develop research based knowledge on mechanisms, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of pain, injuries and diseases in the musculoskeletal and nerve system, including headache and migraine.

We are an interdisciplinary knowledge group with competence within clinical medicine, physiotherapy, psychology, physiology, genetics and molecular biology – and we aim our research towards these main areas:


Clinical trials

The main focus is to examine the effect of treatment interventions, both established and experimental, for patients with musculoskeletal pain. The group, headed by Kjersti Storheim, has extensive experience in running large longitudinal multicenter clinical trials.

The AIM study (Antibiotics In Modic changes), Back-to-Basic, The Norwegian disc prosthesis study and the NORDSTEN study are examples of studies that are rooted in the group.

Group leader: Kjersti Storheim

Population genetics

The group focuses on uncovering genetic causes for chronic pain and for neurological and psychiatric disease through large-scale genetic analysis of data from population studies including the HUNT Study , the Tromsø Study and UK Biobank .

Understanding the genetic causes can give new insights into biological mechanisms involved in these disorders, and in turn lead to improved treatment. The group is closely linked to the K.G. Jebsen Center for Genetic Epidemiology.

UK Biobank
K.G. Jebsen-senter for genetisk epidemiologi

Group leader: Bendik Winsvold



The aim of the group is to identify and characterize the underlying causes, biomarkers and predictors of neurological disease, with a focus on epilepsy, movement disorders, and musculoskeletal disease and pain. With the access to detailed clinical and molecular data from clinical trials and large population databases, we aim to translate our results into knowledge enabling personalized treatment for the patients.

One research approach is to identify key steps of pathophysiology through the identification and functional characterization of genetic causes of monogenic disorders, such as epileptic encephalopathies, hereditary ataxia and hereditary spastic paraplegias. However, even in relatively homogenous patient groups, a main challenge in clinical practice remain the vast variation in clinical expression, clinical course and treatment response. We are addressing this through a system biology approach, i.e. through integrated analyses of a range of data sets reflecting different molecular layers, such as genomic, epigenomic, and metabolomic data, where we aim at identifying biomarkers and predictors of disease and treatment response.

Our projects warrant multidisciplinary competence, which is reflected in the background of our group members and collaborators who are geneticists, neurologists, engineers, mathematicians, bioinformaticians, molecular biologists, pharmacologists, nutritionists, pediatricians and pathologists.


Group leader: Kaja Selmer


Pain mechanisms

The group's aim is to understand the causes for neuropathic pain and development of chronic pain, and applies both genetic and neurophysiological methods. Pain trials are carried out on healthy volunteers, as well as on patients with injuries or diseases on peripheral nerves.

Through cooperation internally, nationally and internationally, we also participate in epidemiological studies, as well as take part in clinical trials on patients with neuropathic pain through our national cooperation within clinical neurophysiology.

Group leader: Kristian Bernhard Nilsen

Small fiber neuropathy and neuropathic pain

The main aim of this group is to study various conditions of neuropathic pain, such as small fiber neuropathy, CRPS and other types of nerve damage.

We apply standard  investigations, such as quantitative sensory tests and QSART (Quantitative Sudomotor Axon Reflex Test), and possess special competence in neurography, which allows registration from single C- pain fibers in awake patients.

Group leader: Ellen Jørum


The group studies the distribution and identifies risk factors of diagnoses within NEMU. The group has published several population-based studies on data from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT). Another example is the project "Back pain and sciatica - prognostic factors for clinical outcome", based on data from patients admitted to Department of Neurology OUS with the diagnoses of acute back pain. The latter project started as a quality register in 2012.

Group leaders: Ingrid Heuch and Synne Øien Stensland





Published Apr. 10, 2019 10:54 AM - Last modified Nov. 2, 2021 1:32 PM


Group leader


  • John Anker Henrik Zwart
  • Ellen Jørum
  • Sigrid Børte
  • Marianne Bakke Johnsen
  • Olaf Randall Fjeld
  • Daniel Gregor Schulze
  • Maria Dehli Vigeland
  • Lars Christian Haugli Bråten
  • Marie Udnesseter Lie
  • Margreth Grotle
  • Kjersti Storheim
  • Linda Margareth Pedersen
  • Bendik Winsvold
  • Ingrid Heuch
  • Kristian Bernhard Nilsen
  • Inge Petter Kleggetveit
  • Dagrun Sagafos
  • Lars Kristian Lunden
  • Maren Gjelle Guddal
  • Mads Peder Rolfsen
  • Eira Kathleen Ebbs
  • Astrid Lunestad
  • Monica Wigemyr
  • Alf Inge Hellevik
  • Amy Martinsen
  • Ingrid Fjeldheim Bånerud
  • Vibeke Siewers
  • Synne Øien Stensland
  • Kristin Ørstavik
  • Ida Løchting
  • Kaja Kristine Selmer
  • Elisabeth Gjefsen
  • Kathrine Holm
  • Helle Stangeland
  • Marianne Mørk
  • Tone Berge
  • Gøril Brevik Melbye
  • Kristina Gervin
  • Monica Baumann-Larsen
  • Hilde-Mari Seipajærvi
  • Synne Johannesen
  • Tone Hakvåg Rønning
  • Magnus Dehli Vigeland
  • Benedicte Alexandra Lie
Detailed list of participants