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 in which may underlie the development of chronic pain. Such a multi-level mechanism is only to be expected from the symptoms of patients suffering from chronic pain. Our basic research will be concentrated in areas which are most likely to provide insights into fundamental aspects of chronic pain conditions, to complement activities in Clinical Research and Practice. The faculty in all sections will interact both informally and in collaborative projects, to allow them the opportunity to synthesize information from all areas and to contribute critical insights from multiple perspectives. Initially our research will focus on the interactions in the spinal cord and brain, to define cellular and molecular processes, and examine changes which may result in long lasting increases in nociceptive responses.
We propose to develop two complementary areas involving, first, molecular studies of gene expression in cells of nociceptive pathways and, second, transgenic mouse studies of functional consequences of gene expression. We anticipate that there will be extensive interactions with anatomists and physiologists throughout the Medical Center.
Development of this Section will require hiring additional faculty members to direct the research and provision of facilities.