The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently launched a new multidisciplinary research program focusing on the role of the brain in perceiving, modifying, and managing pain. Based in NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, this collaborative effort will complement basic science and clinical research efforts of other ongoing intramural neuroscience, imaging, and mental and behavioral health research programs.
NIH has appointed Catherine Bushnell, PhD, an internationally recognized pain and neuroscience researcher, scientific director of the program. Under Bushnell, the program will continue to work toward the development of better ways to safely and more effectively treat chronic pain, and advance research on the intersection and integration of pharmacological and nonpharmacological approaches.
Research projects will include investigating the role of the brain in pain processing and control, and how factors such as emotion, attention, environment, and genetics affect pain perception. The program also will explore how chronic pain produces changes in the brain that can modify how the brain reacts to pain medications such as opioids.