Basic, Translational, and Clinical Pain Research

Black & White photo of lab researchers in lab

Chronic pain is a major health problem in the US affecting 100 million Americans. Based on the estimation of the American Pain Society, the annual US expenditure on pain (medical costs and lost wages) is near $600 billion, which is higher than that for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes combined.

The mission of the Pain Research Division in the Department of Anesthesiology is to identify novel genes and mediators underlying nociception and genesis of pathological pain using fly and mouse models and clinical samples. We investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms, as well as the behaviors associated with chronic pain, such as neuropathic pain and inflammatory pain. We also test new treatments both in animal models and human subjects, which will lead to new therapeutics for the prevention of and cure for pain.

The Pain Research Division occupies a newly renovated space consisting of 6,000 sq. ft. on the first floor of the Genome Science Research Building I (GSRBI), which was constructed as part of Duke’s Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy (IGSP).

The Pain Research Division is staffed by 7 Principal Investigators, 3 PhD students, 12 Postdoctoral Fellows, and 3 support staff, and its work is supported by over $10 million in research funds, including 5 NIH-funded grants and 2 DOD-funded grants.

Investigators in the division integrate multidisciplinary approaches, from basic molecular and cellular biology, electrophysiology, animal and fly behaviors to genetics, epigenomics, metabolomics and lipidomics. Investigators also carry out translational and clinical studies in the Duke and VA Hospitals.  Investigators in the Pain Research division closely work with clinicians at Duke Pain Medicine.