More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, some like patient Bob Salathe who had extreme neuropathic pain. Transformational gifts from an anonymous couple established the Johns Hopkins Neurosurgery Pain Research Institute and two named professorships, held by Allan Belzberg, MD, FRCSC – who performed the DREZ surgery which alleviated Salathe’s pain – and by Michael Caterina, MD, PhD, whose lab focuses on sentry neurons in the skin and other tissues that trigger the sensation of pain.
The Neurosurgery Pain Research Institute was created to investigate controlling, preventing and eliminating neurosurgically related pain. There is a tremendous need to establish a scientific rationale for improving the understanding of chronic pain, and devising new approaches to alleviating and preventing it.
This Institute will perform basic scientific and clinical research into the mechanisms of different human chronic pain states as a basis for rational treatment of chronic pain. Our research is focused on neurological diseases that trigger pain and pain as a result of neurosurgical procedures.
Programs and Research
Our goal is to create an evidence-based clinical research center that will facilitate faculty members conducting clinical trials and outcome research. Program Aims:
- To develop a research infrastructure in the Johns Hopkins Department of Neurosurgery to facilitate pain-associated clinical research in brain tumor, cerebrovascular, spine, and neuro-oncology.
- To cultivate clinical research in advancing a better understanding of neurosurgical pain and pursuing optimal clinical pain management through clinical trials, including testing novel neurosurgical procedures, therapeutics and translating laboratory science into clinical practice to improve pain control, patient’s quality of life and overall survivorship.
- To develop statistical methodology and techniques specialized for neurosurgical clinical research and use state-of-the-art study design to meet current challenges in surgical trials.
- To participate in the neurosurgical residency training program ensuring that future generations of neurosurgeons trained at Johns Hopkins will have advanced clinical research skills and experience in neurosurgical pain management and clinical trials.
A pain management interdisciplinary team will serve in a consultative capacity with the clinical teams in the neurosciences functional unit. The pain management team will include a dedicated credentialed pain management nurse, a pain clinical specialist-pharmacist, and a pain-expert physician faculty leader. The program aims include:
- To test the hypothesis that by reducing the perioperative pain maximally will reduce the likelihood of a patient having a chronic pain problem.
- Improve patient satisfaction, comfort and treatment by improving the management of post-operative pain.
- Attend to the patient safety consequences of pain, as pain increases both fall risks and cognitive interference. Effective pain treatment requires the balancing of risks and benefits.
- Increase the interdisciplinary team’s proficiency, knowledge and understanding about pain management and the patient’s pain experience.
- Reduce delayed physical therapy and occupational therapy assessments due to inadequate pain control.
- Promote effective pain management across the continuum, including other evidence-based interventions and also the patient’s participation in pain control, i.e., transitions from clinic visit or from NCCU to inpatient units to home.
Co-founded and financed by the Blaustein Pain Research Fund and the Neurosurgery Pain Research Institute, PRC comprises two parts: the Cell Imaging and Electrophysiology Core and the Pain-related Quantitative Behavioral Core. The group's multidisciplinary team is dedicated to preclinical pain research, offering researchers state-of the-art resources for assays in the following areas:
- Studying pain mechanisms
- Identifying new drug targets
- Developing novel analgesics
- Crafting innovative strategies for pain treatment
The Neurosurgery Pain Research Grant Fund supports members of the Johns Hopkins neurosurgery faculty in their research to better understand, treat and prevent pain by the provision of one-year grants. Thanks to this support, our faculty has conducted research on the topics of:
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) as a treatment for acute pain, such as post-operative pain
- Contribution of different sodium channel isoforms to excitability and conduction in nociceptive primary afferent neurons of non-human primates to develop improved strategies for treating pain in humans.
- Active modeling of spinal cord stimulation to quantify effects on spatiotemporal properties of dorsal column activity, and to identify efficacious alterations.
- Pain-related genes in schwannomatosis
- Incidence and characteristics of spasticity after spinal cord injury
- Long-term pain control after lumbar spinal fusion
- Endoscopic and high-resolution imaging of human skull base anatomy to serve as a reference and surgical guide for less invasive procedures that reduce post-operative pain
- Functional and molecular characterization of nociceptor subtypes in non-human primates
The Johns Hopkins Neurosurgery Pain Research Institute
To Control, Prevent and Eliminate Pain
600 N. Wolfe Street
Phipps Bldg, Room 454
Baltimore, MD 21287
Administrative Program Coordinator of the Neurosurgery Pain Research Institute