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Pain is a critical problem in health care: it affects millions of individuals, costs billions of dollars, and is a major cause of morbidity, suffering, and suicide. No objective test for pain currently exists. Chronic pain (e.g., neuropathic pain) in particular is difficult to treat because we have little understanding of the altered plasticity in neural circuitry that precedes this condition. In addition, we do not have an objective method of diagnosing neuropathic pain. Finally, while peripheral mechanisms of neuropathic pain are far better understood than central mechanisms, "centralization" of pain produces changes in the nervous system including persistent pain, alteration in personality, depression and suicide, lack of motivation, and perhaps, an addictive state

The p.a.i.n. group focuses on the discovery of novel pain pathways (Systems Biology), mapping the CNS response/s in neuropathic pain and analgesics (Biotherapeutics), and developing novel high-throughput methods for evaluating analgesics (Predictive Medicine). The vision is to produce methods for objective evaluation of chronic pain and methods for evaluation of therapeutics.


The objectives of the program are:

  • To evaluate processing of pain in healthy subjects and patients with chronic pain
    • Define novel pain pathways
    • Define emotional and motivational components of pain
  • To CNS regions involved in analgesic effects of drugs in health and disease
    • Define new targets
    • Novel mechanisms for analgesic targets
  • To develop surrogate human models of human disease
    • Testing of drugs in phase 1 trials with decrease risk for development
  • To define optimal preclinical models for evaluating analgesics
    • Basis for preclinical evaluation
    • Equivalence in health and disease
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