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Petra Schweinhardt, PhD, M Chiro Med
Prof. Dr. med.

Petra Schweinhardt, PhD, M Chiro Med

Head of Chiropractic Research
Head of Chiropractic Medicine
German, English, French

Honors and awards

  • 2013-2016 Canada Research Chair (CRC) Tier II “The Neurobiology of Chronic Pain”
  • 2010-2014 Salary Award (Bourse de chercheur-boursier “Junior 1”) – Fonds de la recherche en santé Quebec
  • 2010 Early Career Award Canadian Pain Society
  • 2009 International Association for the Study of Pain Early Career Award


  • 2019 - 2021 EUR 56'934 European Center for Chiropractic Research Excellence: Phenotyping low back pain - a prospective observational pilot study
  • 2019 - 2021 CHF 200 000 Zurich University – Clinical Research Priority Program: Pain – from phenotypes to mechanisms
  • 2019 EUR 56'934 EuroSpine Task force: Back Pain Phenotypes and Relation to Outcome
  • 2019 - 2023 CHF 632'000 Funding agency: SNF Role: PI The influence of danger signals on nociceptive processing: from healthy subjects to chronic pain patients
  • 2018 CHF 3´400 Funding agency: SNF Role: Co-Investigator Spine Tango Conservative - Workshop
  • 2017 - 2018 EUR 200´000 Funding agency: PRODEX (Foundation of the European Space Agency) Role: Co-Investigator The effect of changing gravity on spinal stiffness
  • 2016 - 2017 CAD 40'000 Funding agency: FRQ-S Network for Oral and Bone Health Research Role: Co-Investigator Transition from acute to chronic painful temporomandibular disorders: a prospective cohort study
  • 2008 - 2016 USD 2.8 million As an independent investigator at McGill, in the form of operating funds, infrastructure awards, and salary support

Scientific projects

  • Sensitization along the neuraxis and its potential to explain clinical back pain phenotypes
  • The role of danger and safety signals in sensitizing the pain processing system
  • The influence of pain chronicity on outcome
  • Localized vs. widespread pain and hypersensitivity and implications for outcome

Other activities

Talks and Media


  • Schmerzkategorien – nozizeptiv – neuropathisch – noziplastisch. Update Schmerzmedizin für die Praxis; Swiss Paraplegic Center, Nottwil, Switzerland
  • Interactions between pain and reward. Inaugural Meeting of the SGSS SIG CANoP, Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Pain sensitization and the contribution of supraspinal factors. Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior, University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany,
  • Interactions between pain and reward. Research colloquium Institute of Systems Neuroscience, University of Hamburg, Hamburg Germany


  • The interaction between pain and reward from the human perspective. Symposium, World Congress on Pain, Boston, USA
  • Psychosocial factors play an important role in chronic pain – but which role exactly? Pain Mechanisms and Therapeutics Conference, Taormina, Sicily
  • How much pain reduction matters for neck pain patients undergoing chiropractic treatment? European Chiropractor Union Conference, Budapest, Hungary
  • Basic pain mechanisms – generalized hypersensitivity and spatial pain extent as proxies for central sensitization. European Chiropractor Union Conference, Budapest, Hungary
  • Structural changes in the brain in chronic back pain patients. 8th NEUROspine meeting Bern, Switzerland
  • Special Guest Lecture – Supraspinal pain modulation. 5th Annual General Meeting and Conference of The Royal College of Chiropractors, London, England


  • Pain from the human perspective. International Fall Meeting of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bochum, Germany
  • Multivariate Decoding of Sensorimotor Brain Activity during Lumbar Pressure Stimulation accurately identifies chronic low back pain. European Chiropractor Convention, Cyprus May
  • The role of the medial prefrontal cortex in pain – the human perspective. Symposium The medial prefrontal cortex and pain. Annual Meeting of the American Pain Society, Pittsburgh
  • Supraspinal Pain Processing and Modulation. Schmerzkaleidoskop. CE activity Dentistry.St Moritz
  • Multivariate decoding of sensorimotor brain activity during lumbar pressure stimulation accurately identifies chronic low back pain patients. European Chiropractic Union Convention, Cyprus
  • Chronic pain from the perspective of the brain. Colloque de Formation, Lausanne


  • Refresher course "Brain circuits in acute and chronic pain". 16th World Congress of Pain, Yokohama, Japan
  • Basic science of acute and chronic pain. Post-graduate course ‘Current knowledge in the diagnosis, epidemiology, biomarkers and management of orofacial pain’, Montreal, Canada.
  • Grey matter alterations in chronic pain – where do we stand? Keynote lecture at the 36th Annual Meeting of the Australian Pain Society, Pert, Australia.
  • Pain and the reward circuitry: Interactions in acute and chronic pain. Keynote lecture at the 36th Annual Meeting of the Australian Pain Society, Pert, Australia.
  • Behavioral and neurophysiological interactions between pain and reward. Linkoeping University, Sweden.
  • Behavioral and neurophysiological interactions between pain and reward. Mini-symposium Zurich University, Switzerland.


  • Is a responsive default mode network required for successful working memory task performance? Research Seminar, University of Montreal.
  • Tagesanzeiger - On our study on increasing placebo effects.
  • Wie Schmerz entsteht (‘Pain generation‘). FachMedetage 04/15, symposium for lawyers, Zurich, Switzerland.
  • Musculoskeletal Pain: Translating basic models and mechanisms. Symposium at the 34th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Pain Society, Palm Springs, U.S.A.
  • Interactions between pain and reward - behavioral and neurophysiological findings. Pain Seminar Series Center for Pain Research and Innovation, School of Dentistry, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.


  • Imaging pain processing in the brain – the case of the interaction between pain and reward. Key note speaker Pain Day, University of Bochum.
  • Pain and Motivation. Neurobiology of Pain and Itch meeting, San Francisco, U.S.A.
  • Featured in the National ME/CFS Action Network newsletter
  • Imaging pain in health and disease. University of Minnesota.
  • The Clinical Management of Acute and Chronic Pain – Basic Science. McGill Faculty of Dentistry, Continued Education Program.
  • Chronic pain. Université de Montreal, Faculty of Dentistry Retreat.


  • Imaging pain and reward systems. CIHR Teambuilding workshop on Orofacial Pain, Dorval, Quebec, Canada.
  • Neurophysiological and neurochemical underpinnings of the interaction between pain and reward. Pharmacology and Toxicology Seminar, University of Zuerich, Switzerland.
  • Supraspinal pain processing and modulation. 1er Curso de Dolor Crónico de la Facultad de Ciencias Biomédicas, Buenos Aires, Argentina (web-based lecture).
  • The pain-reward connection: evidence form human volunteers. Canadian Pain Society Annual Conference, Winnipeg, Canada
  • Pain-reward interactions in human volunteers. 46th Annual Winter Conference on Brain Research, Breckensridge, U.S.A.
  • Spying on the brain – cerebral brain alterations in chronic pain. Pain lecture series of the Center for Pain Research at Pittsburgh University, U.S.A.


  • Functional and structural MRI techniques for the investigation of pain. Refresher course, 14th World Congress of Pain, Milan, Italy
  • Brain alterations in patients with chronic pain. 1st OMFS Research Day, McGill University
  • Annals of Neurology - on the state of imaging in regard to its role in helping understand/diagnose pain.
  • The changing image of pain. J. Earl Wynands Royal College Keynote lecture, 53rd Annual McGill Anesthesia Update


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Outpatient chiropractic clinic
+41 44 386 57 06

Chiropractic Medicine

A scientifically based method of treatment, chiropractic is a form of alternative medicine that can be used instead of or in addition to other medical or surgical treatment and physiotherapy. Experienced chiropractors treat patients with many different diseases and conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system. At the same time, the outpatient clinic is a training centre for future chiropractors.

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