Theory

In addition to hands-on training in experimental design, data analysis and interpretation that are integral to the research experience, training will involve establishment of a solid foundation in the current understanding of pain biology. This will be achieved through participation in formal courses, a weekly Pain Journal Club, bi-weekly Current Research on Pain (CROP) meetings, and monthly Pain Seminar Series. There are three existing courses offered by the PCPR and a fourth didactic course in development specifically for this training program. Pre- and post-doctoral trainees supported by this program will be required to participate in all four courses.

  • MSNBIO 2622 Mechanisms and Clinical Presentation of Pain (3 semester hours; offered spring semesters). This course provides registrants and attendees (e.g., CNUP and non-PCPR faculty with interest in some or all of the topics addressed, post-doctoral fellows not affiliated with the PCPR, etc.) with vocabulary and knowledge about anatomy, physiology, mechanisms and modulation of pain. This fundamental knowledge is complemented by assigned readings and presentations by clinicians about pain syndromes and pain management. In addition to pre- and post-doctoral trainees, the Pain Medicine Program's nine physician pain fellows also take this course. Accordingly, this centerpiece course is composed of a mix of research and clinically experienced trainers and trainees. 
  • MSNBIO 2651 Pain Journal Club (1 semester hour; offered every semester). This is a discussion-based course of assigned readings that examine pain mechanisms and management with emphasis on critical literature evaluation and topical developments in pain research. Program faculty and trainees choose papers for assignment and lead discussions in this weekly forum. In addition, one weekly journal club every semester will be a focused discussion led by a Center faculty member (or invited guest) on topics related to, for example, conflicts of interest, ethics and confidentiality in grant and manuscript reviewing, plagiarism, data integrity and record keeping, patient confidentiality, etc. 
  • MSNBIO 2682 Current Research on Pain (1 semester hour; offered every semester). This advanced graduate course is designed for trainees and fellows interested in current research on pain mechanisms, management and clinical presentation of pain. Presentations by course registrants and faculty form the basis for this bi-weekly, 1.5 hr forum. Trainees gain experience and feedback on their presentations while also sharing their most recent work. In this way Center faculty are regularly appraised of activities ongoing in other laboratories, from which suggestions of assistance to overcome problems often arise, leading to collaborative research efforts. Faculty also have used this forum for presentation and feedback on planned NIH grant applications (e.g., specific aims, preliminary data and planned experiments), which has been helpful to them and both instructive and eye-opening to trainees.
  • The fourth course, Pain Models - Rationale, testing and interpretation, is a new course that will focus on the design and analysis of pain models. This course will incorporate classroom presentations about various pain models (e.g., inflammatory, neuropathic, etc.) with hands-on demonstrations in the RBAC (Rodent Behavioral Assay Core). Classroom discussions will be based on assigned readings and include the relevant history and rationale for use of different tests/models, including critical assessment of strengths/weaknesses and limitations to interpretation of outcomes. Importantly, data acquisition, analysis and presentation will be included in evaluating the interpretability of outcomes. We anticipate this course would be offered fall semesters and accredited by the graduate college and SOM for 3 semester hours of graduate credit. A proposed course outline is appended.

In addition to the existing courses listed above, which also will be required of non-T32 supported preand post-doctoral trainees/fellows in laboratories of Center faculty, a monthly seminar series of extramural speakers and other special events are organized and hosted by the PCPR. The PCPR has been successful in winning two AAPM/Pfizer Visiting Professorships in Pain Medicine Awards, one to support the visit of Irene Tracey (Oxford University) in 2008 and another to support the visit of Martin Schmelz (University of Heidelberg) in 2011. Because these visiting professorships are of several days' length, they provide multiple opportunities for trainees to directly interact with the guests, who have been chosen because their areas of research are not presently represented within research projects of Center faculty.