Colloca_Luana_4865 (1)

Luana Colloca
Associate professor, University of Maryland & Honorary Professor, University of Sydney, School of Psychology. 

Mechanisms of observationally-induced pain modulation: from placebo effects to virtual reality

Description: The capacity to activate endogenous opioid and nonopioid systems in concomitance with the administration of an intervention represents a fascinating phenomenon that is capturing the attention of scientists from different disciplines. This Lecture focuses on the neurobiology of placebo effects and virtual reality with an emphasis on relevant discoveries, new insights and developments.



Dr. Luana Colloca has conducted pioneering groundbreaking studies that have advanced scientific understanding of the psychoneurobiological bases of endogenous systems for pain modulation in humans including the discovery that social learning shapes placebo effects and that the vasopressin system is involved in the enhancement of placebo effects with a dimorphic effect. Currently, Luana leads an NIH-funded team at University of Maryland investigating the placebo/nocebo effect, how expectancy shapes pain response, social learning and pain. More recently, Colloca team has been working with virtual reality technology and clinical pain care to develop better management plans for acute post-operative pain.

Dr. Colloca holds an MD, a master degree in Bioethics and a PhD in Neuroscience.  She completed a post-doc training at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden and a senior research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, USA.  Dr. Colloca received several prestigious awards including the Wall Patrick International Award for basic research on pain mechanisms by the International Association for Study of Pain (IASP).

Dr. Colloca uses an integrative approach including psychopharmacological, psychobiological, brain mapping and behavioral approaches. Her research has been published in top-ranked international journals including Biological Psychiatry, Pain, JAMA, and Lancet Neurology. Her research has been also featured on The National Geographic, The New Scientist, Washington Post, Science daily, Boston Globe, The New Yorker, Nature, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, News and World Reports and USA Today.