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.
Dr. Maixner hopes that within five years, the CTPM is fully integrated into the health care system, that they have a sustainable research program, and that they have penetrated the medical curriculum to begin to be able to resolve some of the filters with respect to patient management and patient treatment. He is hopeful that he and the CTPM team will set a model at Duke for how pain should be managed, both at the tertiary care center and in the context of primary care, through research, education and patient care. Dr. Maixner hopes the creation of this new center helps improve patients’ lives by providing them with additional information as to why they have their chronic pain condition which will allow them to have better interactions with their clinicians, who in turn will be better educated about how to diagnose and treat pain patients.