AUSTIN, Tex., May 20, 2011 – An unprecedented level of federal funding for pain research, some $400 million, was allocated in 2010 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through provisions of the American Recovery and Investment Act and the Affordable Care Act to help accelerate advances in pain research, prevention and treatment. The NIH pain care agenda was presented today Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Pain Society (APS),


In a plenary presentation, Patricia Grady, PhD, RN, director, National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) at the National Institutes of Health said pain is an urgent priority at NIH because it is the most frequent reason to seek health care services, is the leading cause of disability, has inestimable medical, social and economic costs, and often severely diminishes quality of life for patients and their families.” Dr. Grady is one of co-chairs of the NIH Pain Consortium comprised of Institutes that have distinct pain research portfolios.


“The NIH seeks to facilitate collaborations and research translation by increasing awareness of pain research across the scientific community. We are very interested in pursuing public-private partnerships when feasible, particularly those involving multidisciplinary participation,” said Grady.


Grady explained that the key areas of focus for pain research across NIH include:
• Identifying the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms of the pain response
• Improving the way we manage and treat pain, with the goal of reducing the impact of pain on an individual’s ability to function and to enjoy life
• Analyzing the individual genetic and environmental differences that affect the way pain is experienced and treated in different people, and
• Studying the emotional and biobehavioral aspects of pain perception and pain management.


She added that NINR promotes multidisciplinary pain management within its broad program of basic and clinical research. One area of emphasis is exploring technologies such as gene chips in pain studies that can allow researchers to study molecular-genetic mechanisms of pain and analgesia, identify new targets for analgesic compounds, and test the efficacy and adverse reactions of developmental and current analgesics.


“These discoveries from genetics research will increase our understanding the interrelationship of personal genetic makeup and an individual’s response to pain. Further, this research will move us closer to developing new medicines to treat pain more safely and effectively,” Grady explained.


NINR also is supporting the Maryland Center for Pain Studies at the University of Maryland School of Nursing in interdisciplinary pain research on the basic mechanisms of underlying cancer pain and development of novel therapeutics to alleviate it.