The interagency pain research coordinating committee (IPRCC) recently held its inaugural meeting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The group, created by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), serves as a federal advisory committee and was formed as part of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to enhance research efforts and promote collaboration across the government.
“We have a remarkable collection of members, bringing an extraordinary range of views and perspectives on pain,” said NINDS director Dr. Story Landis, who chaired the meeting. “Congress is looking to us to work together to coordinate the federal government’s pain research effort.”
IPRCC consists of 7 federal members and 12 non-federal members (6 from scientific/medical communities; 6 from public/stakeholder groups).
“The burden of pain in the 21st century is enormous,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, in welcoming remarks. “Reducing this burden is going to take a lot of work, research and coordination. We hope to gain from your expertise and to expand our focus of pain research through effective partnerships. This group will help in propelling pain research forward.”
Collins also gave the group its charge from the Affordable Care Act. IPRCC will develop a summary of pain care research advances supported or conducted by the federal government and identify critical gaps in basic and clinical pain research.
Committee member Dr. Sean Mackey of Stanford University provided an overview of the Institute of Medicine’s 2011 report, Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research.
“NIH has already implemented a number of the IOM’s recommendations,” said Landis, giving an update on NIH’s response to the report:
- NINDS plans to establish an office to support all activities of the NIH Pain Consortium and the IPRCC. (NINDS is lead IC for NIH’s pain research.)
- The NIH Pain Consortium—which promotes research collaboration across ICs—has organized or funded a number of pain disorder conferences to identify gaps and opportunities and has established new trans-NIH working groups on chronic pain.
- NIH recently established an NIH-FDA leadership council to improve regulatory science and the drug development pipeline.
- NIH supports a wide range of interdisciplinary pain research efforts and currently supports longitudinal studies on a number of chronic pain conditions.
In addition to this work, Catherine Bushnell, Ph.D., an internationally recognized pain and neuroscience researcher, was recently been appointed scientific director of a new research program focusing on the role of the brain in perceiving, modifying, and managing pain. Based in the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health, this collaborative effort will complement basic science and clinical research efforts of other ongoing intramural neuroscience, imaging, and mental and behavioral health research programs.
“Dr. Bushnell’s work has profoundly changed the ways in which we understand and study this very important problem,” said NCCAM Director Josephine P. Briggs, M.D. “Under her leadership, this program will continue to work toward the development of better ways to safely and more effectively treat chronic pain, and advance research on the intersection and integration of pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches.”
Research projects will include investigating the role of the brain in pain processing and control, and how factors such as emotion, attention, environment, and genetics affect pain perception. The program will also explore how chronic pain produces changes in the brain that can modify how the brain reacts to pain medications like opioids.
“Dr. Bushnell is a pioneer in the field of pain research, and NIH is extremely fortunate to have her leading this research program,” said Michael Gottesman, deputy director for intramural research. “She and her team will add a novel and important component to NIH’s overall intramural neuroscience research community.”