The overarching goal of this proposed training program is to integrate interdisciplinary and translational aspects of the current, rich training environment in pain research at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to exposure of trainees to fundamental principles of pain mechanisms and pain presentation, we will establish new program elements (clinical experiences, multi-laboratory projects, courses) that are typically very difficult for individual investigators to support. We are committed to an integrated approach to the study of pain because major breakthroughs in this field can only be achieved through multidisciplinary approaches, and thus will incorporate and facilitate interactions between  laboratories (horizontal integration) and  researchers and clinicians (vertical integration). Accordingly, horizontal and vertical integration will be essential components of this training program, which will consist of three core elements: 1) Research - Multidisciplinary research projects will not only be encouraged, but expected, as will exposure to clinical management of pain/pain-related problems. These integrations will be achieved through formation of multidisciplinary mentoring committees which will include at least one clinical faculty member among a four-member committee. 2) Theory - Trainees will participate in four required for-credit courses: Mechanisms and Clinical Presentation of Pain, Pain Journal Club, bi-weekly Current Research on Pain presentations, a new course Pain Models - Rationale, Testing and Interpretation as well as the monthly Pain Seminar Series, where trainees interact with prominent pain researchers. 3) Practice - Trainees will be exposed to the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain patients through a 2nd new course - Pain Perspectives - that will provide trainees the opportunity to shadow pain physicians as they interview, diagnose and manage chronic pain patients within the Pain Medicine Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Pain is the principal reason for seeking medical attention. It respects no boundaries, is not restricted to any one disease or medical discipline, is distributed across the life span and experienced by all irrespective of status (economic, educational, etc.) or gender. Many tissue insults lead to chronic pain states which are poorly managed because the mechanisms underlying pain are incompletely understood. Thus, there is a compelling need to enhance and broaden the training of the next generation of pain researchers.
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