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NCCIH Research Blog

Funding Opportunity for a Research Network To Promote Studies of Sickle Cell Disease Pain—Technical Assistance Webinar on June 14, 2023

May 19, 2023

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

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

Deputy Branch Chief

Basic and Mechanistic Research in Complementary and Integrative Health Branch

Program Director

Division of Extramural Research

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

View biographical sketch

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) will hold a technical assistance webinar on June 14, 2023, from 2 to 3 p.m. ET, for potential applicants who are interested in the funding opportunity Research Network to Promote Multidisciplinary Mechanistic and Translational Studies of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) Pain (U24, Clinical Trial Optional). This funding opportunity aims to develop compelling research frameworks and model systems that will:  

  • Support interdisciplinary collaborations
  • Initiate pilot projects to test novel mechanistic hypotheses in high-priority research areas 
  • Develop novel technologies and methodologies to study pain in the organ(s) typically impacted by SCD 

SCD is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders predominantly impacting an underserved minority population in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this lifelong disease affects approximately 100,000 Americans, occurring among about 1 out of every 365 Black or African American births, and among about 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic American births. 

Pain is the most common complication of SCD and the top reason why people with SCD go to the emergency department or hospital. People with SCD can experience acute pain, chronic pain, or both. On a clinical level, SCD pain is a multiorgan problem that may affect the liver, spleen, kidney, intestine, chest, hands, or genitals. Chronic SCD pain may be manifested in the legs or gallbladder. Many SCD patients report severe headaches and central pain due to strokes. Recently, several studies have reported musculoskeletal pain in patients with SCD, which is believed to reflect acute and chronic injuries to muscles, joints, bones, or the associated central nervous system. These pain conditions in SCD have not been addressed with sufficient scientific research. 

Current barriers in SCD pain research include limited opportunities to integrate research across multiple disciplines; limited opportunities to connect SCD pain researchers and experts from other pain fields; limited platforms for dissemination of knowledge among SCD pain researchers and between researchers, clinicians, and patients; and limited diversity and inclusion of underrepresented researchers. There is an unmet need to facilitate collaborations among hematologists, organ biologists, pain experts, physiologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, geneticists, microbiologists, immunologists, behavioral scientists, and clinicians. NCCIH’s funding opportunity for a multidisciplinary SCD pain research network may help address many of these barriers. The application deadline is October 1, 2023 (letter of intent is due September 1, 2023).

We welcome potential applicants to register for the June 14 webinar. At the webinar, NCCIH program and review staff will discuss important application considerations and review requirements; there will be ample time for questions from participants. (Note: Attendance at the webinar is optional and is not a requirement for applicants.)

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