New Multidisciplinary Pain Program at NIH

New Multidisciplinary Pain Program at NIH

A new NIH collaborative research program that focuses on the role of the brain in perceiving, modifying, and managing pain will complement basic science and clinical research efforts of other ongoing intramural neuroscience, imaging, and mental and behavioral health research programs. The program is based in the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Catherine Bushnell, PhD, an internationally recognized pain and neuroscience researcher from McGill University in Montreal, has been appointed scientific director.

The program will work toward developing better ways to safely and more effectively treat patients with chronic pain and advance research on the intersection and integration of pharmacological and nonpharmacological approaches. Research projects will include investigating the role of the brain in pain processing and control and how emotion, attention, environment, genetics, and other factors affect pain perception. The program also will explore how chronic pain produces changes in the brain that can modify how the brain reacts to opioid analgesics and other pain medications.

More than 100 million persons in the United States have chronic pain conditions, at an estimated annual cost of close to $635 billion for treatment and lost productivity, according to the Institute of Medicine. Although tremendous progress has been made in drug treatment for patients with acute pain, there are pressing needs for better understanding of and treatments for chronic pain, it was noted.

For additional information, call NCCAM's Clearinghouse (toll-free) at (888) 644-6226 or visit the NCCAM Web site at For more information about the NIH and its programs, visit

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