Chronic pain conditions often persist long after the initial insult has resolved, implying significant changes in the nervous system. There is increasing evidence for interactions at several levels of the nervous system, from the periphery to the brain, changes that underlie the development of chronic pain. Such a multi-level mechanism is expected from the symptoms of patients suffering from chronic pain.

Our basic research is concentrated in areas that provide insights into fundamental aspects of chronic pain conditions and complement activities in clinical research and practice. The faculty in all sections interact informally and in collaborative projects, allowing them to synthesize information from all areas and contribute critical insights from multiple perspectives. 

Our research labs focus their work on problems identified by our clinical team as critical to advance improvements in patient care.

  • What are mechanisms of amplification in pain pathways that we can target to reverse pain sensitization?
  • How does a history of chronic pain alter the nervous system, and how can we use that information to develop therapies specific to clinical pain?
  • How does a history of chronic pain change how the body responds to analgesic therapies?
  • How do neuromodulation therapies (spinal cord and DRG stimulation, deep brain stimulation) lead to analgesia, and can we learn from advances in neuroscience to improve these therapies?
  • What are the interactions between the immune system and nervous system that amplify pain?
  • What cells and circuits uniquely contribute to acute and chronic pain?
  • What are the unique aspects of human biology that present barriers in developing new therapies for people based on preclinical models?

Our researchers use these clinical questions as guiding principles in our search to develop new, safer therapies to reduce the burden of chronic pain.