World-Renowned Pain Researcher Joins Duke Anesthesiology

We are pleased to announce that William Maixner, DDS, PhD, a world-renowned pioneer in pain research, and his team have joined Duke Anesthesiology as of January 1, 2016 to further expand our excellent clinical and research program in pain medicine. Dr. Maixner joins us from the School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), where he was the Mary Lily Kenan Flagler Bingham Distinguished University Professor.

Dr. Maixner will lead the Center for Translational Pain Medicine within the Department of Anesthesiology. This center will incorporate basic science, clinical research, and pain management with the goals of: 1) understanding the pathophysiological processes that mediate persistent pain conditions and translating new discoveries into clinical practice, 2) creating high-quality educational programming for clinical and research professionals and the public, and 3) providing high-quality comprehensive, primary and specialized care to individuals with a variety of acute and chronic pain conditions. In addition, the center will aim to develop a common portal of entry by which patients will benefit from a multidisciplinary approach to the management of a variety of pain conditions. Complementing the existing Duke Pain Medicine Clinic, a treatment facility for orofacial pain will also open its doors in the Brier Creek area in early 2016.

After completing his BA, PhD, and DDS at the University of Iowa, Dr. Maixner was a research fellow at the National Institute of Dental Research. From 1985-2015, he was faculty at UNC-CH, rising from Assistant Professor in Prosthodontics to Professor in the Departments of Endodontics and Pharmacology. He also served as Co-Director of the Oral and Maxillofacial Pain Program, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Dentistry, and Director of the Center for Pain Research and Innovation (CPRI). In 2013, he received the New York College of Dentistry Distinguished Scientist Award and the Wilbert E. Fordyce Clinical Investigator Award from the American Pain Society. He has published more than 200 manuscripts and book chapters and has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 1986. In 2005, Dr. Maixner was the principal investigator on the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research’s (NIDCR) $19 million, seven-year OPPERA study to examine pain produced by temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders. In 2012, the NIDCR awarded Dr. Maixner and his team an additional $16 million in funding to support the study (called OPPERA II) for an additional five-year period. Dr. Maixner’s primary research focus is on biological, environmental, and genetic factors involved in pain transmission and modulation. Dr. Maixner considers chronic pain to be a “hidden epidemic” and has therefore campaigned for more research support amongst colleagues, sponsors, health organizations, and congressional committees: www.help.senate.gov/hearings/pain-in-america-exploring-challenges-to-relief.

Other members of Dr. Maixner’s team who have joined Duke Anesthesiology include:

  • Andrea (Andi) Nackley, PhD – Dr. Nackley was previously an Associate Professor in the School of Dentistry, Department of Endodontics at UNC-CH. Her present research goals are to identify and characterize signaling processes that drive persistent pain conditions, evaluate the potential functionality of common genetic polymorphisms that interact with environmental events to produce persistent pain conditions, identify biological markers that predict the development of persistent pain conditions, and create individualized pain management strategies.
  • Shad Smith, PhD – Smith also joins us from the UNC-CH School of Dentistry, Department of Endodontics, where he was a Research Assistant Professor. Dr. Smith’s research focuses on the genetic basis of persistent pain disorders.
  • Jongbae (Jay) Park, KMD, PhD – Park was formerly a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine, UNC-CH. He is a licensed acupuncturist and expert on integrative medicine, herbal medicine research, technology development in rehabilitation, and acupuncture for lower back pain, stroke, joint injury and other conditions.
  • Sandra O’Buckley – With over twenty years of research experience, Sandra joins us from UNC-CH School of Dentistry, where she was a Research Specialist for the Center for Pain Research and Innovation. She joined Dr. Nackley’s laboratory as the lab manager in July 2012. Sandra has predominantly worked with viral vectors and basic biochemical assays, and her current focus is analyzing data from her most recently completed rodent study, ‘Management of post-operative pain following third molar extractions’ and the translation into human use.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Maixner and his team to Duke Anesthesiology and to Duke Medicine!