Chronic pain is a significant issue in health care delivery, affecting 116 million Americans at a conservative cost of $560 billion. This application seeks renewal of support for an interdisciplinary training program in pain research at the University of Iowa. The program has been highly successful in terms of increasing collaborations among trainers and mentoring pre- and postdoctoral trainees of exemplary quality to independent funding and careers. The program will continue to study the cellular, molecular, pharmacological, physiological and anatomical mechanisms that subserve acute and chronic pain while further strengthening the clinical and translational work begun during the previous award. The 16 core program faculty are NIH-funded investigators with complementary expertise in the fields of molecular, cellular and systems neurobiology. They comprise a balanced representation of basic and physician scientists, as well as bench and patient-based research. Each trainer has a strong record of training both predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows and will also mentor a subset of junior trainers of great promise. Support is requested for two predoctoral and two postdoctoral trainees for this award period. In line with our goal to strengthen translational research, the postdoctoral positions will be primarily targeted for MD, MD/PhD, PT/PhD or DPT trainees, but will also accept PhD trainees with a strong interest in translational research. These individuals will benefit from a period of protected time to learn the elements of research and/or to restart their research programs in advance of a faculty level appointment. Two nurse scientists continue as adjunct trainers to pursue collaborations in clinical and translational research programs developed in the last award period. In the next funding period, the program proposes to build a stronger relationship with members of the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science who have expertise in patient-centered outcomes research and comparative effectiveness research. This approach will recruit new faculty to the training program and increase attractiveness to clinicians. The training program provides a highly structured and diverse program of didactic coursework, including monthly seminars, weekly journal clubs and biweekly work-in-progress meetings, that is coupled with research training in a highly collaborative and inter-active environment. All courses, as well as mechanisms of interaction and trainee evaluation are established. The overall goal of the training program is to provide our trainees with (1) an individualized curriculum that provide a solid knowledge base appropriate to their career plans;(2) rigorous training in the elements of scientific investigation including the formulation of research hypotheses, experimental design and analysis;(3) mastery of two to three research techniques;(4) opportunities to develop their verbal communication skills;(5) experience in the construction of manuscripts and grant proposals;and (6) the ability to interact and collaborate with basic and clinical investigators boh within and outside the institution who are actively engaged in research. Trainees in this program will acquire the knowledge, experience, and skill sets necessary for successful transition to an independent research career in academia, industry or government.
Chronic pain continues to exact a huge toll on the individual, their family and society. The recent Institute of Medicine report on pain estimates that chronic pain affects ~116 million persons and generates $635 billion in costs every year. New pharmacologic treatments and behavioral strategies for the management of chronic pain are clearly needed. These advances will require a greater understanding of the mechanisms by which acute pain transitions to chronic pain and the mechanisms that maintain chronic pain. This multidisciplinary training program is designed to train a cadre of investigators, at the predoctoral and postdoctoral levels, who are equipped to undertake studies as independent investigators at both the bench and the bedside, and potentially with patient populations.
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