Although research has vastly increased our knowledge regarding the basic mechanisms of acute, inflammatory and neuropathic pain, relatively little is known about the processes involved in the transition from acute to chronic pai. The goal of this COBRE application is to develop a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence that will significantly contribute to the scientific understanding of the neurobiology of chronic pin and sensory function, facilitating the discovery and development of novel therapies. The proposed research center will build around a core group of neuroscientists, pharmacologists and chemists at the University of New England (UNE) whose research is focused on understanding the neurobiology of pain. The COBRE will provide the junior investigators with a career development plan, mentorship, and research infrastructure that will facilitate gaining independent investigator status. Furthermore, new faculty recruitment is designed to strengthen our medicinal chemistry capabilities in collaboration with the College of Pharmacy. In building the chemistry group, the efforts in this COBRE are consistent with the concept of bringing innovative chemistry as a bridge between basic knowledge of pain and therapy. These efforts will provide Center scientists with novel compounds that can be used as valuable tools to explore the pathophysiology of chronic pain and ultimately may be advanced as clinical candidates in partnerships developed within the biopharmaceutical setting.
Specific Aim 1 will increase the number of neuroscience investigators at UNE to create a critical mass of researchers necessary to sustain a vibrant and competitive research center.
This Aim will be accomplished by fostering the pain related research programs of four current UNE junior faculty members who have not received R01 or comparable Research Project Grant support. In addition, we will recruit and hire an additional three investigators whose research programs will complement those of the existing faculty.
Specific Aim 2 will expand neuroscience research infrastructure at UNE, providing access to core facilities that allow investigators to carry out cutting edge research on the neurobiological processes involved in the development of chronic pain.
This Aim will be accomplished through the renovation of laboratory space, the purchase of core behavioral, imaging and histology equipment, and funding of key support personnel. Completion of these Aims will develop the research careers of a multidisciplinary group of junior investigators, and establish the core facilities and equipment necessary to constitute a competitive research center.
Chronic pain continues to be a major health, social and economic problem throughout the world, affecting an estimated 1 in 3 individuals. Current therapies for chronic pain offer only modest efficacy and/or have serious side-effects. As a result, there is a need to focus on treating pain, on preventing the development of chronic pain, and on research and development of novel treatments (including restoration of lost function and improvement of quality of life).
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