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Steven P. Cohen, MD

Steven P. Cohen, MD

Department of Anesthesiology/Critical Care Medicine

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
550 North Broadway, Suite 301
Baltimore, MD 21205
Phone: 410-955-1818
Fax: 410-614-7597
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Dr. Steven P. Cohen obtained his medical degree at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, completed an anesthesiology residency at Columbia University, and a pain management fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Currently, he is Professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD, and Associate Professor of Anesthesiology & Critical Care Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He is also the Director of Medical Education for the Pain Management Division at Johns Hopkins and Director of Pain Research at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Dr. Cohen has been very active in teaching and pain research in recent years, having published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in the past 9 years. Among his major contributions are the development of a new FDA-approved technique for treating sacroiliac joint pain (lateral branch radiofrequency denervation), for which Dr. Cohen published the first reports of this technique as well as the first controlled study, inventing the intravenous ketamine test to help determine treatment strategy in patients with chronic pain, and performing the first studies evaluating the local administration of tumor necrosis factor inhibitors for pain treatment. His recent placebo-controlled, dose-response and concurrent animal safety study evaluating epidural etanercept was named one of the top 3 pain research papers in 2009 by Anesthesiology, the leading journal in the specialty. Some of his more recent work has focused on comparative-effectiveness studies and improving pain care in wounded soldiers. These include establishing that MRI does not improve outcomes in patients with sciatica scheduled for epidural steroid injections, outcome data from the first pain clinic ever established in a combat zone (the most highly publicized article in Anesthesiology), and conducting epidemiological studies evaluating a wide range of pain conditions. These articles have been featured in some of the top general medical journals including Lancet, CMAJ, BMJ, Annals of Internal Medicine, and Archives of Internal Medicine. Dr. Cohen is currently the Principal or Senior Investigator on over a dozen studies, including several multicenter clinical trials. He is also first author on the Pain chapter in the latest edition of Cecil Textbook of Medicine, one of the premier medical textbooks in the world.

Dr. Cohen plays an active role in many organizations. He currently serves on the Editorial Boards of Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine, Pain Medicine, Pain Physician, and half a dozen other journals, and on the Advisory Board of the American Pain Foundation. He has been on the organizing committees for the 2009, 2010, and 2011 American Academy of Pain Medicine Annual Meetings, and is the Chair-elect for the 2013 Annual ASRA Pain Meeting.

In addition to his academic work in pain management, Dr. Cohen is a colonel in the Army Reserve, and the Chief, Anesthesia & Operative Services at the 48h Combat Support Hospital in Maryland. He also serves as the Reserve Liaison to the Pain Management Consultant to the U.S. Army Surgeon General. Over the past 3 years, Dr. Cohen has briefed or presented data on pain management issues in service members several times to the U.S. Congress and high-ranking general officers. His research was instrumental in the passage of the 2008 Military Pain Care Act, and he continues to serve as an inaugural member of the first U.S. Army Medical Advisory Board.

Professional Activities

  • American Pain Society
  • American Society of Anesthesiologists
  • American Society of Regional Anesthesia
  • American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians
  • Association of University Anesthesiologists
  • International Spinal Intervention Society
  • Maryland State Society of Anesthesiologists

Selected Publications

  1. White RL, Cohen SP. Return-to-duty rates among coalition forces treated in a forward-deployed pain treatment center: A prospective observational study.  Anesthesiology 2007; 107:1003-8 (with editorial).
  2. Cohen SP, Strassels SA, Foster L, Marvel J, Williams K, Crooks M, Gross A, Kurihara C, Nguyen C, Williams N. Comparison of fluoroscopically guided and blind corticosteroid injections for greater trochanteric pain syndrome: Multicentre randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2009; 338: b1088 (with editorial).
  3. Cohen SP, Bogduk N, Buckenmaier CC III, Dragovich A, Griffith S, Kurihara C, Raymond JL, Williams N, Yaksh TL. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-response, and preclinical safety study evaluating transforaminal epidural etanercept for sciatica. Anesthesiology 2009; 110: 1116-26 (with editorial; selected as one of top 10 articles of year in Journal).
  4. Cohen SP, Nguyen C, Kapoor SG, Anderson-Barnes VC, Foster L, Shields C, McLean B, Wichman T, Plunkett A. Back pain during war: An analysis of factors affecting outcome. Arch Intern Med 2009; 169:1916-23 (with editorial, featured on CBS News and multiple websites).
  5. Cohen SP, Brown C, Kurihara C, Plunkett A, Nguyen C, Strassels SA. Diagnoses and factors associated with medical evacuation and return to duty for service members participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom: a prospective cohort study. Lancet 2010; 375:301-9 (cover article with commentary; featured in NY Times and multiple foreign languages).
  6. Cohen SP, Williams KA, Kurihara C, Nguyen C, Shields C, Kim P, Griffith SR, Larkin TM, Crooks M, Williams N, Morlando B, Strassels SA. Multicenter, randomized, comparative cost-effectiveness study comparing 0, 1, and 2 diagnostic medial branch (facet joint nerve) block treatment paradigms before lumbar facet radiofrequency denervation.  Anesthesiology 2010; 113:395-405 (with editorial).
  7. Cohen SP, Brown C, Kurihara C, Plunkett A, Nguyen C, Strassels SA. Diagnoses and factors associated with medical evacuation and return to duty among nonmilitary personnel participating in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. CMAJ 2011; 183:E289-95 (featured in U.S. News & World Report and Newsday).

Laboratory Members/Key Associates

Research Assistant
Connie Kurihara, RN, Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Brett Bahn
Haroon Hameed
Chitra Ram
Nelson Tang

Jianren Mao, MD, PhD (Massachusetts General Hospital)
Paul Pasquina, MD (Dept. of orthopedic Surgery, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center)
Jeff Gambel, MD (Dept. of orthopedic Surgery, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center)
Tony Yaksh, PhD (UCSD)
Steven Hanling, MD (Naval Medical Center-San Diego)
Ivan Lesnik, MD (Naval Medical Center-San Diego)
Hieu Hoang (Brooke Army Medical Center)
Kevin Guthmiller (Brooke Army Medical Center)
Conner Nguyen ( Landstuhl Regional Medical Center)
Ronald White (Landstuhl Regional Medical Center)
Yakov Vorobeychik, MD, PhD (Penn State-Hershey)
Scott Griffith, MD (Dept. of Anesthesiology, WRNMMC)
Thomas Larkin, MD (Dept. of Anesthesiology, WRNMMC)
Rick Fisher, DO (Dept. of Anesthesiology, WRNMMC)
David Jamison, MD (Dept. of Anesthesiology, WRNMMC)
Chester Buckenmaier III, MD (Defense & Veteran's Pain Management Initiative)


  • Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster (1995, 1996)
  • Overseas Service Ribbon with Oak Leaf Cluster (1994, 1999)
  • Meritorious Service Medal (1999)
  • Global War on Terrorism Service Medal (2003)
  • Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device (2003, 2005, 2007)
  • Army Achievement Medal (2007)
  • Grand Rounds, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School (April 2008)
  • ASIPP Lifetime Public Service Award (2009)
  • Order of Military Medical Merit (2010)
  • Radio talk show conference on: "Medicine Unplugged: Military Doctors & Interrogation of Prisoners of War"