Visiting Scholars' Program

The Visiting Scholars’ Program is a free monthly event providing the perfect opportunity to hear from national and international experts in the field of pain. See who we have been previously privileged to have speak as part of this program here.

These events are held in the Kolling Building at Royal North Shore Hospital in St Leonards, Sydney.


This is a free event open to anyone with an interest in learning about pain.

2018 Calendar

















Presenter Professor Michele Sterling
Date Thursday 8th February 2018
Time 3.30-4.30pm
Venue Auditorium, Level 5, Kolling Building, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards
Prof. Michele Sterling.


Michele Sterling is Professor, Associate Director of the Recover Injury Research Centre and Director of NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Road Traffic Injury, The University of Queensland. She is a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and a Fellow of the Australian College of Physiotherapists. She is internationally recognised for her research on whiplash associated disorders. Michele’s research focusses on the mechanisms underlying the development of chronic pain after injury; predictive algorithms for outcomes and developing effective interventions for musculoskeletal injury and pain. She has editorial roles in several leading journals and textbooks, and is a widely published author. Michele is an elected member of the leadership Council of the International Association for the Study of Pain.




Pain, the brain and the microbiome

Presenter Dr Phil Austin
Date Tuesday 13th February 2018
Time 3.30-4.30pm
Venue Kolling Building, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards
Dr Phil Austin.


Phil Austin is a UK-trained researcher who holds a PhD in pain medicine. His research interests relate to multidimensional assessment of functional Gastro-Intestinal (GI) disorders, the assessment of central pain modulation and painful chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathies. Phil’s clinical areas of interest include the effects of work-related stress on the severity and duration of musculoskeletal pain in computer-workers. Phil also works as an adjunct tutor for the Masters' postgraduate degree program in Pain Management at The University of Sydney and the Master of Science in Clinical Management of Pain at the University of Edinburgh while also being involved in various areas of palliative care research at Greenwich Hospital in Sydney.





Putting Things Into Perspective: The U.S. Opioid Crisis

Presenters Prof. Gary Walco & Prof. Steven Weisman
Date Thursday 2nd August 2018
Time 4.30-5.30pm
Venue Auditorium, Level 5, Kolling Building, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards
Prof Gary Walco.


Gary A. Walco, PhD, ABPP is a Professor of Anesthesiology (adjunct in Pediatrics and Psychiatry) at the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Director of Pain Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital. He has conducted multiple studies on pain treatment and assessment in children and has published over 100 journal articles, book chapters, and books, including a text he co-edited, Pain in Children: A Practical Guide for Primary Care. Dr. Walco was the founder of the Special Interest Group on Pain in Infants, Children, and Adolescents for the American Pain Society and was the 2003 recipient of their Jeffrey Lawson Award for Advocacy in Children’s Pain Relief. He also received the Lee Salk Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contributions to pediatric psychology from the American Psychological Association in 2006. Dr. Walco currently sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Pain, the Clinical Journal of Pain (for which he is a past associate editor), and did so formerly for Pain, the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, and the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

Prof Steve Weisman.


Professor Steve Weisman currently holds the Jane B. Pettit Chair in Pain Management at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, where he is the Medical Director of the Jane B. Pettit Pain Management Center and the Palliative Care Program. In addition, he is Professor of Anesthesiology and Pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Weisman formerly established and directed pain management programs for children at both the University of Connecticut Health Center and Yale University School of Medicine. He has completed residency and fellowship training in Pediatrics, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and Anesthesiology. His clinical and research interests focus on the management of painful procedures and postoperative pain in children, especially those with cancer. The Jane B. Pettit Pain Management Center has recently introduced programs in acupuncture and mindfulness meditation for children. In addition, the Center has spearheaded a new institutional comprehensive pain management program known as the Comfort Zone™.





Towards Understanding Recovery from Head/Neck Trauma: Does Time Heal All Wounds?

Presenters Prof. James "Jim" Elliott PT, PhD, FAPTA
Date Thursday 25th October 2018
Time 4.00-5.00pm
Venue Auditorium, Level 5, Kolling Building, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards
Prof James Elliott.


Professor Jim Elliott completed his PhD at the University of Queensland, Australia (UQ) in 2007 and a post-doctoral fellowship (2010) also at UQ (CCRE-Spine and Centre for Magnetic Resonance). His interdisciplinary teams’ contributions to the field range from the identification of novel magnetic resonance imaging markers to quantify alterations in spinal cord anatomy and skeletal muscle degeneration as potential markers of poor functional recovery following trauma exposure to leading large interdisciplinary studies investigating the neurobiological mechanisms of persistent spinal pain (generally) and head/neck trauma from a motor vehicle crash (specifically).

He is currently a Professor of Allied Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney and the Northern Sydney Local Health District. Prior to this, Jim was a tenure-track Associate Professor in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, USA, where he remains an adjunct Professor and Principal Investigator of the Neuromuscular Imaging Research Laboratory.



Why is it so hard to define pain (as we all know what it is)?

Presenter Dr. Amanda C de C Williams
Open Q & A Dr. Amanda C de C Williams, Prof. Milton Cohen & Prof. Michael Nicholas
Date Thursday 8th November 2018
Time 4.30-5.30pm (20-30min presentation followed by a 20-30min Open Question & Answer Session)
Venue Auditorium, Level 5, Kolling Building, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards
RSVP No RSVP is required.
Dr. Amanda C de C Williams.


Dr. Amanda Williams is a Reader and Clinical Psychologist in Clinical Health Psychology, Research Department of Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology at the University College London and at the Pain Management Centre, National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery (University College London Hospitals). She has been active in research and clinical work in persistent pain for over 30 years, with interests in evaluation of psychologically-based treatments; in expression of pain and its interpretation by clinicians; and in pain from torture. In addition to her clinical and research work, she has also been actively involved in a charity for torture survivors and is now developing research and policy work with colleagues in the field. She is involved in several systematic reviews and meta-analyses on pain treatments, and in writing UK and European guidelines on best practice in managing pain; she is also pursuing experimental work concerning expression of pain and its (mis)understanding by others. She was a founding member of a special interest group in pain from torture, organised violence, and war in the International Association for the Study of Pain, and has spoken at several national pain conferences about recognition and treatment of pain in survivors of torture. Dr Williams has written over 120 papers and chapters on aspects of pain and psychology, presents at national and international pain meetings, and is on the editorial boards of several major pain journals. She is also on the Editorial Board of Pain for Psychology.

About the Talk

The IASP definition of pain has served us well for several decades, but it is beginning to wear thin, prompting suggestions that it should be revised. Its assertions were advanced at the time of formulation, but have become more widely accepted. However, it predates current neuroscientific understanding, and lacks any reference to the social element of the supposedly universal biopsychosocial model. The accompanying note (who reads it?) is confused and confusing, incorporating some of the compromises necessary to achieve agreement.

Pain belongs to everybody, so everybody has an opinion. The essential subjectivity of the current definition is problematic for those who concede pain in animals to which they do not attribute subjectivity. Dogs? Certainly. Rats? Perhaps. Crabs? ... Philosophers often mistakenly use the capacity for pain (or pain expression that a human observer understands) as a test of consciousness, but that, like subjectivity, is probably impossible to determine. Further, the purpose of a definition is to identify what is unique about the thing defined, so that it cannot be misidentified as something else, but pain is widely used analogously (mental pain, social pain), blurring its boundaries.

Amanda will describe the issues she and Ken Craig grappled with in their attempt to update the IASP definition, and the responses to it; this will be followed by discussion with Prof. Milton Cohen and PMRI's Prof. Michael Nicholas.