The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Intramural Research Program (IRP) Pain Research Center, located within the NIH Clinical Center, is a multidisciplinary, trans-NIH initiative that is working to:
- Identify specific pain mechanisms,
- Determine the efficacy of nonopioid treatments, and
- Predict individual patient response to therapies and outcomes.
The mission of the NIH Pain Research Center is to create a pain phenotyping platform within the NIH Clinical Center to better understand mechanisms of diverse pain states, in order to recommend personalized therapies to better manage or prevent the development of chronic pain and opioid abuse.
David Shurtleff, Ph.D., is the Acting Director of the NIH Pain Research Center.
The Pain Research Center’s efforts focus on the urgent need to develop a pain phenotyping and brain imaging platform to support project-specific initiatives and serve the many patients at the Clinical Center who are experiencing intractable pain associated with their disease and/or treatment. The Pain Research Center collects a wide range of measures related to pain, thus allowing the clinicians at NIH to formally quantify patients’ pain and target it with effective novel nonopioid interventions. Common methodological approaches used in the Center’s research projects include quantitative sensory and autonomic testing, brain imaging, core questionnaires, and genetic sequencing.
Select list of current studies
Tools that may be shared
Examples of innovative collaborations
Interactive Pain Lecture Series – Educational series for NIH IRTA trainees
Clinical Research Fellowship in Translational Pain Medicine – Apply to receive training at NIH in human pain research.
Tackling Pain at the National Institutes of Health: Updates from the Bench, the Clinic, and the New NIH Pain Research Center (March 31–April 1, 2022).
NIH Intramural Blog: A One-Stop Shop for Pain Research (April 25, 2022).
NIH Intramural Blog: Pain Research Center Accelerates IRP Pain Research (May 05, 2022).
The center received a 2020 Director’s Challenge Award.
Participating Institutes or Centers at NIH
Currently, 11 NIH ICs participate in the NIH Pain Research Center.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Please use our online form to reach the Pain Research Center team.
To learn about research training positions, contact Eleni Frangos, Ph.D., Research Fellow and Lead Scientific Officer.
If you are a patient and would like more information about complementary and integrative therapies for pain, please contact the NCCIH Information Clearinghouse.
To participate (as a healthy volunteer or a patient) in NIH clinical trials on pain, please call 301-594-5731 or visit clinicaltrials.gov.