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Chronic pain affects millions of people worldwide, creating financial burdens as a result of both healthcare costs and lost productivity. It can be caused by mechanisms such as inflammation, tissue injury, and nerve injury and stems from a variety of disorders, including arthritis, cancer, HIV, and physical trauma. In the Johns Hopkins Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, investigators take advantage of multiple research modalities to explore the molecular underpinnings that lead to the development and maintenance of chronic pain and to generate novel therapeutic possibilities. Our faculty employ behavioral, electrophysiological, and molecular techniques to address issues of central vs. peripheral nervous system involvement in chronic pain. Some components of the pain pathway that are under investigation include membrane-associated guanylate kinases (MAGUKs), which help to organize key pain-related proteins at the post-synaptic membrane; molecular turnover of AMPA and NMDA receptors during chronic pain conditions; and the role of alpha-2A adrenoceptors in pain mediation. In addition, a number of novel approaches to treating chronic pain are being investigated. For example, mechanisms of peripheral mu-opioid receptor–mediated analgesia are being studied, and differentiated stem cells are being explored as a method to treat spinal cord injury–associated pain. In the arena of complementary and alternative medicine, investigators are studying the potential pain-reducing benefits of naturally occurring flavonoids. These and many other ongoing projects place the department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine center stage in the struggle to reduce the debilitating effects of chronic pain.

In conjunction with the Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine has created a Pain Research Core that will assist investigators in utilizing cutting-edge behavioral techniques to study pain mechansims and test new therapies. To learn more about the Pain Research Core or submit a proposal for a research project, please click on the following link: Pain Research Core

Cohen, Steven – Professor. Research Focus: enhancing the diagnostic capability and treatment options for lower back pain. PAIN

Gottschalk, Allan – Associate Professor. Research Focus: investigating the mechanism of chronic pain associated with nerve injury, also known as neuropathic pain. PAIN

Guan, Yun – Associate Professor. Research Focus: identifying the peripheral (primary sensory neuron), spinal (secondary sensory neuron) and supraspinal (descending pain modulation) mechanisms of chronic pain and developing better strategies and novel targets for treatment of pathological pain conditions. PAIN

Johns, Roger – Professor. Research Focus: investigating the mechanisms that underlie anesthesia, analgesia, chronic pain, and inflammatory lung disorders (such as pulmonary hypertension and asthma). CARDIOVASCULAR, PAIN, PULMONARY

Monitto, Connie – Assistant Professor. Research Focus: studying the impact of epigenetic gene regulation on the development of resistance to chemotherapeutic agents in cancer; pediatric pain management. PAIN

Raja, Srinivasa – Professor. Research Focus: investigating the mechanism of chronic pain associated with nerve injury, also known as neuropathic pain. PAIN

Wu, Christopher – Professor. Research Focus: the effect of regional anesthesia and analgesia on mortality, morbidity, and patient-oriented outcomes; acute and postoperative pain management; obstetric anesthesia and analgesia. HEALTH OUTCOMES AND SAFETY RESEARCH, PAIN

Yaster, Myron - Richard J. Traystman Distinguished Professor. Research Focus: optimizing pediatric pain management. PAIN, PERIOPERATIVE