Pain is the primary reason people seek medical attention and the societal cost of chronic pain is more than diabetes, cancer and heart disease combined. More importantly, chronic pain affects as much as a third of the population of the United States creating tremendous suffering and disability in our population. Despite these facts, very little is known about how pain becomes chronic and current treatments are often ineffective. Our goal is to alleviate the burden of chronic pain through basic research, therapeutic discovery and education.
Our laboratory is interested in the fundamental principles underlying neuronal plasticity leading to chronic pain. We aim to develop novel therapeutics based on these discoveries with the potential to either prevent the development of or permanently reverse chronic pain states. We focus on two major areas: plasticity in peripheral nociceptive neurons following injury and plasticity in central nervous system circuits that results from persistent stimulation of peripheral nociceptors. We utilize molecular, biochemical, genetic, behavioral, imaging and electrophysiological techniques combined with an overarching interest in pharmacology and drug discovery to tackle this problem.