Irene Tracey is Director of Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB) Centre, Nuffield Professor of Anaesthetic Science. Irene is a leading expert on using neuroimaging to study pain processing in the human brain. Until recently it has been difficult to obtain reliable objective information from normal subjects and patients regarding their subjective pain experience. Relating specific neurophysiologic markers to perceptual experiences induced by sensitisation, behavioural or pharmacological mechanisms and identifying their site of action within the Central Nervous System has been a major goal for scientists, clinicians, the pharmaceutical industry, and more recently society and the legal profession. With the advent of functional neuroimaging methods, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and electroencephalography (EEG) this has been made feasible.
Over the past 10 years her multidisciplinary team of scientists and clinicians has contributed significantly to a better understanding of nociceptive processing in the human central nervous system in the non-injured and injured state, as well as modulation of pain perception via pharmacological and psychological interventions. They are considered one of the premier pain imaging groups worldwide.