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M. Catherine Bushnell, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator, Pain and Integrative Neuroscience Branch

M. Catherine Bushnell, Ph.D.

M. Catherine Bushnell, Ph.D., holds a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the American University, Washington, D.C., and received postdoctoral training in neurophysiology at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She then spent 12 years at the University of Montreal and 16 years as the Harold Griffith Professor of Anesthesia at McGill University before returning to NIH in 2012. She has been president of the Canadian Pain Society and treasurer and press editor-in-chief of the International Association for the Study of Pain and is currently a councilor for the Society for Neuroscience. Among her honors are the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Pain Society and the Frederick Kerr Basic Science Research Award from the American Pain Society. Her research interests include forebrain mechanisms of pain processing, psychological modulation of pain, and neural alternations in chronic pain patients.

Research Interests

The general mission of Dr. Bushnell’s program is to understand the brain’s role in perceiving, modifying, and managing pain, with a special emphasis on nonpharmacologic modulation of pain. The Pain and Integrative Neuroscience (PAIN) Branch at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health contains both clinical and basic science programs. Current clinical studies use sensory and physiological testing, functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to address mechanisms of nonpharmacologic modulation of pain in healthy volunteers and chronic pain patients, mechanisms underlying reduced pain perception in yoga practitioners, and neural mechanisms underlying emotional touch. Members of the basic science team are evaluating the effects of environmental factors on brain anatomy and neurotransmission in nociceptive models.

Selected Publications