Postdoctoral Fellow Receives APS Award

The American Pain Society (APS) has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Xin Zhang, MD, PhD, the Young Investigator Travel Award for its 36th Annual Scientific Meeting!

Funding from this award will allow Dr. Zhang the opportunity to travel to Pittsburgh and present his poster abstract, titled “Sustained Activation of β2- and β3ARs Leads to Phosphorylation of Neuronal MAPKs and Activation of Glial Cells in Spinal Cord and DRG.” Co-authors of this project include director of The Nackley Lab, Dr. Andrea Nackley, and undergraduate researchers in the lab, Harrison Ballard and Julia Kozlowski. The APS  acknowledges the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) for support of the Young Investigator Travel Award program.

As noted in the abstract, functional pain syndromes, such as fibromyalgia and temporomandibular disorder, are associated with enhanced catecholamine tone and decreased catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT; an enzyme that metabolizes catecholamines) activity. Consistent with clinical syndromes, The Nackley Lab has shown that sustained 14-day delivery of the COMT inhibitor OR486 in rodents results in pain at multiple body sites that persists for three weeks following OR486 cessation.

Results of this study suggest that treatments targeted towards βAR and MAPK signaling pathways may prove useful in the management of functional pain syndromes.

Dr. Zhang is a postdoctoral fellow with The Nackley Lab, part of Duke Anesthesiology’s Center for Translational Pain Medicine which is dedicated to unraveling the causes of painful conditions to better improve patient care.