2019 Ig Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Prof. Francis McGlone & colleagues

This year’s Ig Nobel Peach Prize was jointly awarded to: Ghada A. bin Saif, Alexandru Papoiu, Liliana Banari, Francis McGlone, Shawn G. Kwatra, Yiong-Huak Chan, and Gil Yosipovitch, for trying to measure the pleasurability of scratching an itch. The researchers represent the UK, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the USA.

REFERENCE: “The Pleasurability of Scratching an Itch: A Psychophysical and Topographical Assessment,” G.A. bin Saif, A.D.P. Papoiu, L. Banari, F. McGlone, S.G. Kwatra, Y.-H. Chan and G. Yosipovitch, British Journal of Dermatology, vol. 166, no. 5, 2012, pp. 981-985.

The 10 Ig Nobel Prizes awarded yearly by Improbable Research honour achievements that make people LAUGH, and then THINK.

Prof. Francis McGlone was unable to attend the ceremony, but delivered an acceptance speech via recorded video, and also spoke to The Guardian who reported on the awards:

Britain’s pride was upheld by Francis McGlone, a researcher at Liverpool John Moores University, who shared the Ig Nobel peace prize. As part of an international team, McGlone helped map out which parts of the body are most pleasurable to scratch. The ankles ranked highest, the researchers found, and then the back and forearm.

I was over the moon when I heard. It’s nice for all of us. It’s an honour,” McGlone said on hearing he had won. “The thing that’s fascinated me for a long while now is why is scratching an itch so bloody nice?

But there is a serious side to the research, he said. “People always laugh about itching, but chronic itch is devastating. People with chronic itch will scratch until it bleeds because the pain is preferable to the itching.

By understanding which parts of the body are most prone to itch, and those which are most susceptible to relief, scientists hope to find new treatments for the condition. McGlone, who could not attend the ceremony, accepted the award in a video message recorded with a homunculus on his shoulder.

You can watch the whole ceremony online – (or skip to the Peace Prize award)

#IASAT2019 – Linköping, Sweden

Following on from the 2015 conference hosted by the SomAffect lab at LJMU, this year’s IASAT conference was hosted by our colleagues at the GRASP lab at Linköping University.

A number of SomAffect members attended, and presented:

Professor Francis McGlone chaired the 1st session – The “C Story: Pain, Itch & Pleasure”, introducing the three C fibres, and highlighting that these fibres do not operate in isolation. He called for the three international societies for Pain, Itch & Affective Touch to recognise each other, and collaborate.

Adarsh Makdani presented a talk on Itch, highlighting the relevance of itch, the peripheral mechanisms, and suggested that scratching should be considered an “Affective Touch”. He also presented data collected during his PhD, looking at the peripheral mechanisms of Itch in a rare case-study subject.

Dr. Andrew Marshall presented in the 2nd session, giving an overview of the spinal cord mechanisms of pain, itch, and pleasant touch & highlighting data collected at The Walton Centre, looking at the spinal cord projection of C fibres in a rare cohort of patients.

Dr. Paula Trotter was awarded a prize for her Data Blitz presentation, highlighting new research into touch perception in foster-care leavers. This data was collected as part of an undergraduate dissertation by LJMU students Shaunna Devine & Elizabeth Stockton; Shaunna presented a poster on the research at the conference.

The team were very happy to be a part of an excellent programme of speakers & presenters. More details can be found on the IASAT website.