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Inna Belfer, M.D., Ph.D.

Program Director, Basic and Mechanistic Research in Complementary and Integrative Health Branch

Division of Extramural Research

Inna Belfer, M.D., Ph.D.

Phone: 301-435-1573


6707 Democracy Boulevard II, Suite 401 Bethesda, MD 20892 (Courier Service - 20817)

Inna Belfer, M.D., Ph.D., is a program director in the Basic and Mechanistic Research in Complementary and Integrative Health Branch at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). She joined NCCIH in March 2018. She oversees part of the NCCIH pain portfolio, with a focus on mechanisms underlying the effects of mind and body approaches and natural products on pain management. In addition, Dr. Belfer leads research programs related to genetic, genomic, and epigenetic mechanisms of complementary and integrative health approaches; neural mechanisms of meditative movement practices such as yoga, tai chi, and qi gong; cannabinoids and pain; and sleep and pain. 

Dr. Belfer currently participates in a number of National Institutes of Health (NIH)-wide activities, including the NIH Pain Consortium and the NIH Common Fund pain project. She is NCCIH representative on the Joint National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) Data Access Committee for data access oversight for genomic studies in the database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP) or other controlled-access NIH databases. In addition, she serves as NCCIH Liaison for the United States Association for the Study of Pain (USASP) Special Interest Group on Complementary and Integrative Health.

Dr. Belfer earned her medical degree from the Moscow Medical University in Moscow, Russia, and became a clinical neurologist specializing in epilepsy and chronic pain conditions. She then earned a doctor of philosophy in neurobiology from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. Under the tutelage of Drs. Ze’ev Seltzer and Marshall Devor at Hebrew University, she studied common mechanisms underlying epilepsy and chronic phantom pain in rodents and humans. Dr. Belfer did her postdoctoral training in human genetics and clinical pain at the NIDCR pain and neurosensory mechanisms branch under the mentorship of Dr. Mitchell Max. Prior to joining NCCIH, Dr. Belfer worked as a staff scientist in the NIDCR intramural program; associate professor of anesthesiology and human genetics and director of the molecular epidemiology of pain program at the University of Pittsburgh; clinical reviewer for novel analgesics at the Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia, and Addiction Products of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and a program officer/health scientist administrator at the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health, overseeing the research portfolio on pain and opioid addictions and the development of the Science of Sex and Gender online course module IV.

Dr. Belfer has published on the relationship between gene polymorphisms and complex phenotypes such as pain, psychiatric disorders, and addictions; biobehavioral aspects of acute and chronic pain; phenomics of human pain; sex-specific genetic effects on pain; and genomic predictors of the transformation of acute pain into a chronic condition. Her articles have appeared in Science, Cell, Nature Medicine, Nature Neuroscience, Pain, Pain Medicine, Brain, PLoS Genetics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Science Translational Medicine. Dr. Belfer has served on numerous national and international grant review panels, presented at national and international conferences, and organized seminars, workshops, and roundtables on pain and related conditions.

Dr. Belfer's Blog Posts