Dayna L. Averitt, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Director of the Vivarium


Dayna L. Averitt, Ph.D.

GRB 113


Dr. Dayna Averitt earned her Bachelors degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001 and her PhD in Neuroscience in 2008 from Georgia State University. Under the mentorship of Dr. Anne Murphy, Dr. Averitt studied the neural correlates of sex differences in morphine analgesia. She then completed postdoctoral training at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio in 2011 under the mentorship of Dr. Ken Hargreaves studying serotonergic modulation of the TRPV1 population of trigeminal nociceptors. Dr. Averitt worked as a Principle Investigator at the United States Army Institute of Surgical Research at the San Antonio Military Medical Center for two years where she managed research projects on preemptive analgesia for nerve injury and peripheral analgesia for burn pain. In 2014, Dr. Averitt joined the faculty at the Texas Woman's University as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Averitt has published 20 peer-reviewed research articles under funding from the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health. The Averitt Neurosensory Research Lab is focused on studying sex differences in pain and analgesia.


Ph.D., Neuroscience, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, 2009
M.S., Clinical Investigation, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, 2011
M.S., Biology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, 2007
B.A., Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, 2001

Research Interests

Neuroscience; Neuroanatomy; Sensory Systems; Pain Mechanisms; Pain Management; Opioid and Non-opioid Analgesia; Inflammation; Sex Differences; Trigeminal System; Animal Models

Latest Articles

Neuronal and Glial Factors Contributing to Sex Differences in Opioid Modulation of Pain
Neuropsychopharmacology (2019)
Dayna L Averitt, Lori N Eidson, Hillary H Doyle, Anne Z Murphy

Sex differences and estrous cycle effects of peripheral serotonin-evoked rodent pain behaviors
Neuroscience (2018)
Sukhbir Kaur, William L Benton, Sirima A Tongkhuya, Cierra C.M.C Lopez, Dayna L Averitt

Local resiniferatoxin induces long-lasting analgesia in a rat model of full thickness thermal injury
Pain Medicine (2017)
Margaux M Salas, John L Clifford, Jessica R Hayden, Michael J Iadarola, Dayna L Averitt

Prior stress exposure increases pain behaviors in a rat model of full thickness thermal injury
Burns (2015)
Jennifer E Nyland, Samuel A McLean, Dayna L Averitt

Preemptive perineural bupivacaine attenuates the maintenance of mechanical and cold allodynia in a rat spinal nerve ligation model
BMC Anesthesiology (2015)
John L Clifford, Alberto Mares, Jacob J. Hansen, Dayna L. Averitt

The Neuroanatomy of Sexual Dimorphism in Opioid Analgesia. Invited Review in a Special Issue on The Importance of Sex in the Etiology, Presentation, and Treatment of Neurological Disorders.
Experimental Neurology (2014)
D. R. Loyd, A. Z. Murphy

State of the Science Review: Advances in pain management in wounded service members over a decade at war.
Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery (2014)
J. L. Clifford, M. Fowler, J. J. Hansen, B. P. Cheppudira, J. E. Nyland

A rat model of full thickness thermal injury characterized by thermal hyperalgesia, mechanical allodynia, pronociceptive peptide release and tramadol analgesia.
Burns (2014)
M. Fowler, J. L. Clifford, T. H. Garza, T. M. Slater, H. M. Arizpe

Current Projects

Sex Differences in Pain and Analgesia: Many chronic pain conditions occur predominantly in women and women are less sensitive to opioid-based pain medications. We have three major projects attempting to address this issue:
Sex Differences in Serotonergic Modulation of Trigeminal Pain. Pain conditions are exacerbated by hormone fluctuations, yet the effect of hormones on pain mechanisms remains controversial. The peripheral serotonin system and its activity at nerve endings that express an ion channel called TRPV1 represents one pain mechanism that may be modulated by hormones. We have a grant from the National Institute on Dental and Craniofacial Research to elucidate how hormones modulate the ‘pain-producing’ effects of 5HT on the TRPV1 population of sensory neurons.
Identification of Novel Non-Opioid Analgesics. In collaboration with Dr. Camelia Maier (TWU) and the Army, we are examining the analgesic effects of novel plant phytochemicals.
Sex Differences in the Neuroanatomy of Descending Pain Inhibition. In collaboration with Dr. Anne Murphy (Georgia State University), we are identifying novel neural pathways underlying sexually dimorphic descending pain inhibition in females.

Externally Funded Projects

Sex Differences in Serotonergic Modulation of Trigeminal Pain Year 1 of 3
GOV-National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) | $385,514.00 | 2018
Role: Principal Investigator

Internally Funded Projects

Studies on the Antioxidant Phytochemicals in Euphorbia bicolor (Euphorbiaceae) and their Mechanisms of Action in Reducing Inflammation and Pain
Research Enhancement Program Grant, Texas Woman's University | 2018
Research Grant

Teaching and Research Grant for Equipment and Technology (TARGET)
$8,000.00 | 2018
Research Grant

Teaching and Research Grant for Equipment and Technology (TARGET)
$120,000.00 | 2017
Research Grant

Estrogen Enhances the Pain-evoking Effects of Serotonin
Research Enhancement Program (REP) New Investigator Competition Grant, Texas Woman's University | $10,000.00 | 2017
Research Grant

Role of the 5HT2A receptor on Estrous-cycle Dependent Changes in Pain
Research Enhancement Program (REP) New Investigator Competition Grant, Texas Woman's University | $10,000.00 | 2016
Research Grant

Effects of Estrous Cycle on Trigeminal Pain
Research Enhancement Program (REP) New Investigator Competition Grant, Texas Woman's University | $10,000.00 | 2015
Research Grant

Professional Affiliations

  • American Association for Dental Research
  • American Pain Society
  • International Association for Dental Research
  • International Association for the Study of Pain
  • Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honor Society
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Texas Pain Research Consortium
  • Texas Society for Microscopy