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NCCIH Research Blog

Pain Consortium Symposium Features Digital Technologies for Pain Management and Research

July 6, 2020

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NCCIH Research Blog Team,

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

On June 3, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pain Consortium held its annual symposium, which highlights a significant topic relevant to pain and offers current information and perspectives on chronic pain and pain research. The mission of the Consortium is to enhance pain research and promote collaboration among researchers across NIH institutes and centers with a focus on pain. 

The theme for 2020 was “Technologies for Improved Understanding and Management of Pain.” This year, the symposium was held as a virtual 1-day meeting; the videocast and agenda are archived online. As many readers know, NCCIH has a research focus on pain; we support and conduct pain projects at the NIH labs on campus, fund research through grants around the United States, and provide pain-related information to the public, health care providers, and others. 

NCCIH Director Helene Langevin, M.D. is one of the five members of the Pain Consortium’s Executive Committee, and Wen Chen, Ph.D., Chief of our Basic and Mechanistic Research in Complementary and Integrative Health Branch, is the Center’s representative. The symposium’s NCCIH-connected segments included the following: 

  • The keynote address was given by Sean Mackey, M.D., Ph.D., Redlich Professor and chief of the Division of Pain Medicine at Stanford University and an NIH and NCCIH grantee. Dr. Mackey focuses his research on the factors that cause pain to become chronic, novel methods to prevent chronic pain, and novel therapies to alleviate it. 
  • Speaker Beth Darnall, Ph.D. is a pain management psychologist who directs the Stanford Pain Relief Innovations Lab and leads clinical trials at Stanford on behavioral medicine for pain. One of her NCCIH-funded projects is a single-session, low-cost intervention to help alleviate pain in the context of chronic low-back pain. 
  • Dr. Langevin presented the Mitchell Max Award for Research Excellence to an early-stage investigator for the best poster presentation. We congratulate recipient Ana Moreno, Ph.D., an NIH grantee and founder and chief executive officer of Navega Therapeutics. Dr. Moreno researches and develops gene therapies for chronic pain. 
  • Sudhuman Singh, Ph.D., a visiting postdoctoral fellow in NCCIH’s Division of Intramural Research, was a finalist for the Mitchell Max Award. Dr. Singh is a member of the Section on Behavioral Neurocircuitry and Cellular Plasticity, headed by Yarimar Carrasquillo, Ph.D.
  • Twelve posters were selected for the symposium poster session. Among them was a poster by Yuanyuan (Kevin) Liu, Ph.D., who now leads the Somatosensation and Pain Unit (part of the Sensory Biology lab), a collaboration between NCCIH and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. 

The range of digital technologies presented at the symposium was broad—from websites, apps, and social media to voice assistance, natural language processing, wearables, sensors, digital therapeutics, and tracking/monitoring devices. Related challenges, such as how to achieve more reach and engagement across the digital divide, were also discussed. We hope you find the day’s offerings of interest.

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