Division of Intramural Research
Pain and Integrative Neuroscience Branch
The general mission of Dr. Catherine Bushnell’s Pain and Integrative Neuroscience Branch program is to understand the brain’s role in perceiving, modifying, and managing pain, with a special emphasis on non-pharmacological modulation of pain. The PAIN Branch at NCCIH contains both clinical and basic science programs. Current clinical studies use sensory and physiological testing, functional MRI and TMS to address mechanisms of non-pharmacological 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.
Sickle Cell Research Collaboration with NHLBI
“Elucidating Pain Mechanisms in Sickle Cell Disease”-- Hematopoietic stem cell transplant and gene therapy in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) have each shown successful reversal of sickling conditions that underlie the painful vaso-occlusions that can lead to acute and chronic pain. However, a subpopulation of post-curative-therapy SCD patients continue to experience chronic pain despite successful reversal of SCD conditions. To elucidate the mechanisms underlying persistent pain after curative therapies in SCD populations, we, in collaboration with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), are evaluating endogenous pain modulation, central sensitization, tactile and pain sensitivity, and neural responses to evoked pain in SCD patients with and without chronic pain compared to matched healthy controls.
Dr. Bushnell holds a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the American University, Washington, D.C. and received postdoctoral training in neurophysiology at the 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. Read more about Dr. Bushnell.
Megan Bradson, Postbac IRTA
Megan Bradson is a postbac IRTA in the Pain and Integrative Neuroscience Branch. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 435-1721.
Laura Case, Ph.D., Special Volunteer
Laura Case, Ph.D., is a special volunteer in the Pain and Integrative Neuroscience Branch. She was previously a postdoctoral fellow in this lab. Her research uses functional magnetic resonance imaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and pharmacological manipulation to probe brain regions involved in affective touch. Dr. Case was recently awarded a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence grant to study the mechanisms underlying affective deep pressure touch. Dr. Case received her Ph.D. in Psychology and Cognitive Science from the University of California, San Diego in 2013. Her doctoral dissertation, conducted with Dr. Vilayanur Ramachandran, focused on the multisensory construction of body perception and differences in individuals with atypical body perception. Dr. Case earned a B.A. in philosophy and neuroscience from Wellesley College and completed a postbaccalaureate fellowship at NIMH, where she conducted research on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Contact Dr. Case at email@example.com or (301) 435-1720.
Eunice Chung, Postbac IRTA
Eunice Chung is a postbac IRTA in the Pain and Integrative Neuroscience Branch. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301)827-0020.
Eleni Frangos, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Eleni Frangos, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow in the Pain and Integrative Neuroscience Branch. Her research focuses on behavioral and neural pain mechanisms in healthy and chronic pain populations as well as non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical methods of pain modulation. Dr. Frangos attended Rutgers University – Newark and received her Ph.D. in Psychology-Behavioral Neuroscience in 2014, M.A. in Psychology in 2012, and B.A. in Biology in 2009. Her work at Rutgers, funded by the NIH Initiative for Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) fellowship program, provided the first functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) evidence that the vagus nerve is accessible non-invasively via the surface of the ear and the neck, which has therapeutic implications in pain, depression, and epilepsy. During graduate school, she held a 5-year Adjunct Professorship position at New Jersey City University where she taught Physiological Psychology and Senior Research Seminar.
Eleanor Goulden, Postbac IRTA
Eleanor Goulden is a postbac IRTA in the Pain and Integrative Neuroscience Branch. She can be reached at email@example.com or 301-435-5517.
Nicholas Madian, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Nicholas Madian, Ph.D., is a postdoc fellow in the Pain and Integrative Neuroscience Branch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 402-8078.
Binquan Wang, Ph.D., M.S., MRI Data Analyst
As a part of the Pain and Integrative Neuroscience Branch, Binquan (Bin) Wang, Ph.D., is involved in pain research and brain imaging of healthy volunteers and pain patients and overseeing the acquisition and analysis of neuroimaging data. Dr. Wang has worked as a program analyst at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, where he was involved in work in studies of traumatic brain injury.
Dr. Wang received degrees (B.S. and M.S.) in physics from Huashong University of Science & Technology, China, and a Ph.D. in applied physics from Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, China. Dr. Wang completed postdoctoral training in neuroimaging data acquisition and data analysis from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Contact Dr. Wang at email@example.com or (301) 451-2026.
Latoya Hyson, Biologist
- Case LK, Laubacher CM, Olausson H, Wang B, Spagnolo PA, Bushnell MC. Encoding of Touch Intensity But Not Pleasantness in Human Primary Somatosensory Cortex. Journal of Neuroscience. 2016 May 25;36(21):5850–60.
- Low LA, Bauer LC, Pitcher MH, Bushnell MC. Restraint training for awakefunctional brain scanning of rodents can cause long-lasting changes in pain and stress responses. Pain. 2016 Aug;157(8):1761–72.
- Case LK, Ceko M, Gracely JL, Richards EA, Olausson H, Bushnell MC. Touch Perception Altered by Chronic Pain and by Opioid Blockade. eNeuro. 2016 Mar 10;3(1).
- Davis KD, Bushnell MC, Iannetti GD, St Lawrence K, Coghill R. Evidence against pain specificity in the dorsal posterior insula. F1000Res. 2015 Jul 24;4:362.
- Ceko M, Gracely JL, Fitzcharles MA, Seminowicz DA, Schweinhardt P, Bushnell MC. Is a Responsive Default Mode Network Required for Successful Working MemoryTask Performance? Journal of Neuroscience. 2015 Aug 19;35(33):11595–605.
- Villemure C, ?eko M, Cotton VA, Bushnell MC. Neuroprotective effects of yoga practice: age-, experience-, and frequency-dependent plasticity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2015 May 12;9:281.
- Bushnell MC, Case LK, Ceko M, Cotton VA, Gracely JL, Low LA, Pitcher MH, Villemure C. Effect of environment on the long-term consequences of chronic pain. Pain. 2015 Apr;156 Suppl 1:S42–9.
- Thompson SJ, Millecamps M, Aliaga A, Seminowicz DA, Low LA, Bedell BJ, Stone LS, Schweinhardt P, Bushnell MC. Metabolic brain activity suggestive of persistent pain in a rat model of neuropathic pain. Neuroimage. 2014 May 1;91:344–52.
- Ceko M, Bushnell MC, Fitzcharles MA, Schweinhardt P. Fibromyalgia interacts with age to change the brain. Neuroimage Clinical. 2013 Sep 6;3:249–60.
- Bushnell MC, Ceko M, Low LA. Cognitive and emotional control of pain and its disruption in chronic pain. Nature Reviews Neuroscience.. 2013 Jul;14(7):502–11.
- Villemure C, Ceko M, Cotton VA, Bushnell MC. Insular cortex mediates increased pain tolerance in yoga practitioners. Cerebral Cortex. 2014 Oct;24(10):2732–40.