July 17, 2012
By Pamela Katz Ressler, MS, RN, HN-BC, adjunct faculty, Pain Research, Educationand Policy Program, Tufts University School of Medicine
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced a new multidisciplinary pain program that will be focused on the role of the brain in perceiving, modifying, and managing pain. The program, lead by internationally recognized pain researcher and neuroscientist, Catherine Bushnell, PhD, will be based in the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a part of the National Institutes of Health.
“Dr. Bushnell’s work has profoundly changed the ways in which we understand and study this very important problem,” said NCCAM Director Josephine P. Briggs, M.D. “Under her leadership, this program will continue to work toward the development of better ways to safely and more effectively treat chronic pain, and advance research on the intersection and integration of pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches.”
The NIH announcement of the pain program comes at a critical time in the growing burden of chronic pain in our society. The Institute of Medicine reports that more than 100 million people suffer from chronic pain conditions and nearly $635 billion is spent annually for treatment and lost productivity.
Research projects for the new program will include investigating how chronic pain produces changes in the brain that may modify how the brain reacts to pain medications, such as opioids; as well as exploring factors such as emotion, environment and genetics in pain perception.
The Tufts Pain Research, Education and Policy program faculty and students will look forward to future collaboration with this innovative new program.