Enhancing Career Development in Clinical Pain Research

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The Research Need

Research to establish best practices in clinical pain management is urgently needed to reduce the risks of opioid medications, but there is a limited pipeline of clinical pain researchers to meet NIH’s long-term goals of providing effective non-opioid options for the treatment of pain conditions. The HEAL Initiative’s commitment to enhancing pain management through an innovative and robust clinical pain research field has been constricted by institutional barriers for clinicians interested in pursuing research.

About the Program

The NIH K24 award mechanism is designed to provide investigators with protected time to mentor junior investigators in patient-oriented research. Through the NIH HEAL Initiative, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke will provide support for researchers taking part in one of HEAL’s clinical pain programs to implement mentoring plans to provide junior investigators with the tools and skills needed for an independent clinical pain research career. Mentoring plans include aspects such as:

  • Fostering the research interests and experiences of residents and fellows
  • Supporting programs that draw Ph.D. laboratory-based and translational scientists into more clinical research
  • Ensuring diversity within the pain research workforce, in terms of both demographics and professional background
  • Advising trainees and junior investigators on NIH submissions
  • Guiding early investigator career development

Program Details

Five awards were provided to experienced pain researchers participating in the Early Phase Pain Investigation Clinical Network (EPPIC-Net), the HEAL Biomarker program, Pragmatic Studies for Pain Management without Opioids (PRISM), the Hemodialysis Opioid Prescription Effort Consortium (HOPE), and the Pain Management Effectiveness Research Network Program. The junior investigators will be exposed to a broad range of research, such as biomarker validation studies and trials of potential treatments for a wide range of pain conditions.

Research Examples

Mentees will take part in research activities such as:

  • Training in clinical trial start-up, regulatory documentation, recruitment and retention plans, study visits, and monitoring of study progress within the EPPIC-Net program
  • Deep phenotyping of patient populations within the HEAL Biomarker program
  • Trainee-led projects that take advantage of infrastructure developed as part of parent grants
  • Participation in a large, multidisciplinary randomized trial with a novel design and studying personalized medicine interventions

  • University of Rochester – New York
  • Stanford University – California
  • John Hopkins University – Maryland
  • University of Illinois at Chicago – Chicago

Funded Projects

Mentorship of Junior Investigators on HEAL-SKOAP
Sep 20, 2021
Promoting high-quality chronic pain treatment trials through mentorship of junior investigators: A focus on study conduct and method development
Sep 20, 2021
Providing training in effective non-opioid options for the treatment of pain conditions
Sep 20, 2021
Mentoring in discovery and validation of clinical chronic pain biomarkers
Sep 20, 2021
Mentorship in Precision Pain Medicine via the Early Phase Pain Investigation Clinical Network
Sep 20, 2021