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Core Faculty

Interdisciplinary Training Program in Biobehavioral Pain Research

Areas of Expertise

The interaction of neuroscience, behavioral/social science, and clinical research in forging the interdisciplinary study of pain and pain-related disability. Fellows will broaden their existing conceptualization of pain, incorporating a second area of expertise, to embark upon a program of integrative pain research.

Directors: Gayle Page (SON) and Jennifer Haythornthwaite (SOM)

Core Faculty Pain Research Expertise
  Neuroscience Behavioral/Social Clinical Research
Jerilyn Allen, RN, ScD, FAAN    
Joan Bathon, PhD    
Luis Buenaver, PhD  
James Campbell, MD  
Renan Castillo, PhD    
Michael Caterina, MD, PhD    
Xinzhong Dong, PhD    
Kevin Fontaine, PhD    
Yun Guan, MD, PhD    
Jennifer Haythornthwaite, PhD  
Ahmet Höke, MD, PhD    
Roger Johns, MD    
Sharon Kozachik, RN, PhD    
Beth Murinson, MD    
Gayle Page, RN, DNSc, FAAN    
Srinivasa Raja, MB  
Lee Riley, III, MD    
Matthias Ringkamp, MD, PhD    
Michael T. Smith, PhD  
Yuan-Xiang Tao, MD, PhD    
Gary Wand, MD  
Stephen Wegener, PhD  
Myron Yaster, MD    


Jerilyn K. Allen, RN, ScD is Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the School of Nursing with joint appointments in the School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Allen is an expert in the design and conduct of clinical intervention research, particularly as it relates to health promotion, health disparities and cardiovascular health. Additionally, her expertise in patients’ recovery from cardiac events, cardiac rehabilitation and cardiovascular disease in women encompasses the role and differentiation of pain as a primary symptom.

Joan M. Bathon, MD is a Professor of Medicine and the Deputy Director of the Division of Rheumatology at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. She conducts research on mechanisms and manifestations of inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. As a mentor for the K23 awards of Drs. Robert Edwards and Dr. Susan Bartlett, both behavioral scientists, Dr. Bathon has made a significant commitment to the integration of behavioral/social science to the understanding of pain and its relief in patients with arthritis.

Luis F. Buenaver, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Buenaver is a licensed clinical psychologist, certified in behavioral sleep medicine, whose clinical practice centers on pain management and the evaluation and treatment of sleep disorders (particularly chronic insomnia). Dr. Buenaver has presented and published on topics including factors contributing to chronic pain and sleep disorders. His research focuses on pain and sleep: (1) studying and designing interventions to alter behavioral and psychological mechanisms that contribute to chronic pain and associated disability, and (2) understanding the role of sleep disturbance in chronic pain to learn how sleep loss and factors that drive sleep disturbance contribute to pain, disability, and negative mood.

James N. Campbell, MD is a Professor in the School of Medicine in the Department of Neurosurgery. As the Director of the Blaustein Pain Treatment Center, Dr. Campbell has played a pivotal role in developing the intellectual pain community at JHMI. He is renowned for his biomedical research focusing on the psychophysics of pain, nociceptor physiology, peripheral nerve injury, PET studies of mu-opiate receptors, and surgical interventions for pain.

Renan C. Castillo, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management who focuses on disability and trauma outcomes, particularly with regard to trauma, psychologic and demographic predictors of clinical recovery, functional outcome and patient satisfaction. Dr. Castillo is currently working on instrument development for the diagnosis of postsurgical pain (Orthopaedic Trauma Association funding) and identifying occupational low back pain patients at risk for failure to return to work (Injured Workers Insurance Fund funding). His thesis work showed that pain early in the recovery process is the single most important predictor of overall long term outcomes following major orthopedic injuries. As Project Director for the Lower Extremity Assessment Project (LEAP), the Trauma Survivors Network (TSN) evaluation study, the NextSteps evaluation study, and the Trauma Stages of Change study, he has overseen the recruitment and follow-up of thousands of trauma patients in trauma centers across the country. Dr. Castillo has substantial expertise in psychometrics, having participated in the validation of the Sickness Impact Profile ICF domains as part of his dissertation work, the Trauma Stages of Change Questionnaire, and the Hopkins Rehabilitation Engagement Rating Scale.

Michael J. Caterina, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Biological Chemistry, and is the 2005 awardee of the prestigious Patrick D. Wall Young Investigator Award from the International Association for the Study of Pain. His biomedical research is focused upon understanding how ion channels of the transient receptor potential (TRP) family contribute to thermosensation and mechanosensation in both neuronal and nonneuronal cells. This work has implications for pain sensation as well as innocuous somatosensation

Zinzhong Dong, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience. His laboratory is studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying small-to-medium diameter C-fiber mediation of dorsal root ganglia (DRG) initiation of pain, itch and gentle touch. Dr. Dong has taken a multi-method approach using mouse genetics, behavioral assays, electrophysiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology to study the functions of genes in somatosensation. Since some of these genes are exclusively expressed in DRG neurons, Dr. Dong’s laboratory has used them as molecular tools to study the axon projection patterns of neurons expressing these genes. Based upon this functional and circuitry analysis, he believes he has the molecular handles essential for studying all three somatosensations initiated by these DRG neurons.

Kevin R. Fontaine, PhD is an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology. His work at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center focuses on promoting health behaviors in adults with rheumatic diseases including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. He also conducts epidemiologic analyses related to the prevalence of exercise and physical activity among adults with arthritis. Additionally, Dr. Fontaine has worked with hundreds of overweight and obese adults using a variety of treatment modalities ranging from lifestyle modification to gastric bypass surgery.

Yun Guan, PhD, MD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology/Critical Care Medicine in SOM at the Johns Hopkins University. The long-term goal of his research is to elucidate fully the peripheral and central mechanisms of chronic pain and to develop better strategies and novel targets for pain treatment. His research is multidisciplinary in nature and encompasses electrophysiological, molecular biological, immunocytochemical, and behavioral pharmacological approaches. His major on-going research projects include: 1) To assess the therapeutic utility of MrgC agonist for the treatment of neuropathic pain and to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the drug action (NIH); 2) To explore the mechanisms of mu-opioid receptor-mediated analgesia in neuropathic pain, with particular emphasis on roles of mu- and delta-opioid receptor interaction in peripheral morphine tolerance (NIH); 3) To study the mechanisms and identify the optimal stimulation parameters for spinal cord stimulation-induced analgesia in pre-clinical models of neuropathic pain (Medtronic, inc); 4) To establish in vivo electrophysiologic recording and imaging techniques with which to examine the functions of distinct subgroups of DRG neurons in acute pain and chronic pain conditions (Brain Science Institute). Dr. Guan has published near 40 articles and reviews in peer-reviewed journals such as: Anesthesiology, Pain, Journal of Neuroscience, Cell, Nature, and PNAS.

Jennifer A. Haythornthwaite, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the SOM will be the Program Co-Director. Dr. Haythornthwaite is a Clinical Psychologist and conducts clinical pain research into the psychosocial factors that influence people’s adaptation to pain and conducts clinical trials to evaluate psychological and pharmacological treatments for pain. She is a past recipient of a Mid Career Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research (K24 NS02225) from NINDS to mentor junior pain researchers. Since receiving that award, she has mentored 10 post-doctoral fellows in clinical pain research, 4 of whom have pursued academic careers with pain research as a primary focus. Since arriving at JHUSOM in 1992, Dr. Haythornthwaite has had an active postdoctoral training program, having trained 17 postdoctoral fellows, all of whom were Clinical Psychologists trained broadly in Behavioral Medicine. Although many of these positions were funded through clinical services, many of these individuals obtained expertise in the conduct of clinical pain research and have since pursued careers in pain. Previous postdoctoral fellows have included Dr. Robert Edwards, who joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and received a Patient-Oriented Research Career Development award from NIAMS (K23 AR051315), for which Dr. Haythornthwaite was a primary mentor; Dr. Edwards remains on the part-time faculty at JHUSOM and recently moved to Harvard Medical School. In addition to the training of psychology postdoctoral fellows (see above), Dr. Haythornthwaite has mentored a number of other junior faculty in the conduct of clinical pain research studies and the integration of behavioral science into their research protocols. In addition, a large number of JHU undergraduate students have rotated through her laboratory, gaining exposure to clinical pain research prior to pursuing graduate education in medicine, psychology, or neuroscience.

Ahmet Höke, MD, PhD is a Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Neurology and Neuroscience. Dr. Höke is an established investigator whose laboratory focus is the basic biology of peripheral axons and Schwann cells and disorders affecting the peripheral nervous system. He uses in vitro and in vivo models of peripheral neuropathies such as HIV-associated sensory neuropathies and toxic neuropathies to study the mechanism of axonal damage and develop therapeutic targets for drug development. He also utilizes engineered stem cells as therapeutic gene delivery tools to promote axonal regeneration in chronically denervated nerves as seen in many degenerating disorders of the peripheral nervous system such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and inherited neuropathies.

Roger A. Johns, MD, is a Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine. His biomedical research focuses on two cellular and molecular aspects of pain: (1) the role of the nitric oxide (NO) guanylyl cyclase signaling pathway in mechanisms of anesthesia and analgesia; (2) the interaction between the PSD-93/chapsyn-110 PDZ domain and NMDA receptors in central mechanisms of chronic pain and mechanisms of antinociception resulting from the deletion ofPSD-93/chapsyn-110 in chronic pain states, and 3) efficacy and mechanisms of stem cell therapy for chronic pain associated with spinal cord injury.

Sharon L. Kozachik, RN, PhD is to begin her appointment as Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University July 1, 2009. She was appointed as a fellow in the Interdisciplinary Training Program in Biobehavioral Pain Research in the first cohort July 2006. She successfully achieved individual National Research Service Award (grant NR010660) funding beginning December 2007. Dr. Kozachik’s research efforts are focused upon establishing the mutual causality between sleep and pain, and employs rats instrumented for electroencephalographic/electromyographic recording and a model of chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain. Sleep is well known to interfere with pain sensitivity and pain is well known to interfere with sleep; however, these two substantial symptoms have not been investigated experimentally. As a junior faculty and recent postdoctoral fellow with Drs. Page and Smith, Dr. Kozachik brings to the Steering Committee a keen understanding of the challenges in obtaining interdisciplinary training, the issues pertaining to career development, and dedication to the Interdisciplinary Training Program in Biobehavioral Pain Research.

Beth B. Murinson, MD, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Neurology and Director of Pain Education in Neurology. She is a core faculty member in the Johns Hopkins Colleges Advisory and Clinical Skills Program and leads a multidisciplinary team seeking to understand how medical trainees learn most effectively about pain (Murinson et al. 2008). She has studied medical education at both University College London and JHU. Her laboratory research focuses upon the development of a novel animal model of neuropathic pain with the goal of identifying innovative approaches to the treatment of neuropathic pain. Dr. Murinson is a gifted and innovative educator who will facilitate the involvement of fellows in the range of educational resources and experiences.

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Gayle G. Page, RN, DNSc, FAAN, is Professor, Independence Foundation Chair in Nursing Education, and Director of the Center for Nursing Research and Scholarship in the School of Nursing. Dr. Page has conducted biobehavioral studies investigating the metastatic, immune and neuroendocrine consequences of perioperative pain (Page et al. 2001, R01 NR03915), and more recently, the impact of early postnatal pain on responses to both painful and nonpainful stress in the mature animal (Page et al. 2005, R01 NR07742). Both of these research projects reflect her interdisciplinary training as a doctoral student in the University of California Los Angeles SON, where she conducted her dissertation research in the Department of Physiologic Psychology, and her postdoctoral studies in Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. This training embodies the perspective heralded “Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral and Clinical Sciences” (Institute of Medicine 2000). Dr. Page’s current efforts are directed toward studying susceptibility to and resilience against persistent pain development, particularly with regard to sleep and stress responsivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (R21 NR 010590). Dr. Page’s conceptualization of pain as an exquisite stressor exemplifies her scientific flexibility as her training in the biobehavioral consequences of stress can be broadened to other phenomena that are stress-inducing. This ability to conceptualize has enabled her to mentor pre- and postdoctoral fellows and early career faculty in a broad array of populations.

Srinivasa N. Raja, MB is a Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine. His research interests over the last 15 years have involved basic science and clinical studies on neuropathic pain. More recently, Dr. Raja has been involved in complementary and alternative medicine research investigating the role of dietary constituents in relief of chronic pain and has several published reports on the analgesic effects of soy and tart cherry in models of neuropathic and cancer pain. He and Dr. Haythornthwaite collaborate in the conduct of an ongoing clinical trial of pharmacological and psychological treatments for pain due to temporomandibular joint disorders (R01 DE13906) and a new trial that is funded internally by the Oncology CAM Center on the impact of soy protein supplementation in preventing pain following thoracotomy.

Lee H. Riley, III, MD is an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Neurosurgery, and the Director of the Orthopaedic Spine Division in the School of Medicine. He is currently studying the effect of fear avoidance on outcomes following spine surgery and racial differences in healthcare utilization in patients with spine conditions. Dr. Riley is a committed member of the Scoliosis Research Society, the Cervical Spine Research Society and the North American Spine Society and actively involved in the clinical care of patients with spinal conditions.

Matthias Ringkamp, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience. His research interests are the neurobiology of nociceptive afferents, peripheral neuronal mechanisms of neuropathic pain and peripheral mechanisms that underlie histaminergic and non-histaminergic itch. In his research he uses psychophysical, behavioral and electrophysiological techniques to record neuronal activity in small myelinated and unmyelinated primary afferent nerve fibers in models of peripheral nerve injury and a model of SIV neuropathy which mimics pathological changes observed in tissues from HIV infected patients. Dr. Ringkamp hypothesizes that the development of spontaneous activity in nociceptive primary afferent nerve fibers, and the sensitization of these afferents may play crucial roles for the induction and maintenance of neuropathic pain.

Michael T. Smith, PhD, is Associate Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He is the director of JHU Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program. Dr. Smith is also the Director of the Center for Mind Body Research (CMBR) Psychophysics and Ambulatory Measures Core and oversees the experimental pain testing laboratories that provide CMBR investigators access to state-of-the-art pain testing methodologies, electronic diaries of pain, sleep, mood, and other outcomes, and ambulatory polysomnography monitoring. These capabilities have been integrated into the research designs of many post-doctoral fellows. Dr. Smith provides ongoing supervision and oversight, as well as substantial expertise, in the design and conduct of studies of sleep and clinical pain. His research focuses on investigating the neurobehavioral causes, consequences, and treatments of insomnia and sleep loss, particularly as they relate to chronic pain and hyperalgesia. Dr. Smith’s current research projects include studies of the effects of insomnia on pain modulation in osteoarthritis and the effects of behavioral and pharmacologic interventions for insomnia on pain sensitivity and clinical pain.

Yuan-Xiang Tao, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine. Dr. Tao is an established investigator in the physiology of pain with extensive experience in studying the roles of synaptic glutamate receptors (e.g., NMDA and AMPA) and their interacting neuronal PDZ domain proteins in chronic pain. His laboratory routinely uses molecular biological, biochemical, behavioral, and morphological techniques. Dr. Tao’s current research projects include: (1) synaptic receptor trafficking in chronic pain; (2) expression and function of non-coding RNAs in neuropathic pain; and (3) the role of local RNA translation in chronic pain and morphine tolerance. Long-term goals of his laboratory are to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie the development and maintenance of chronic pain and morphine tolerance, and to develop novel therapeutic strategies for prevention and/or treatment of chronic pain.

Gary S. Wand, MD is Riviere Professor in Endocrinology and Metabolism and Professor of Psychiatry as well as Director of the Endocrine Training Program at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Wand conducts both basic and clinical research. He has a special research interest in understanding genetic determinants of the stress response and how excessive stress hormone production contributes to neurobiological disorders including addiction. Dr. Wand is principal investigator on two R01 grants and is a recipient of the National Institutes of Health Merit Award. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and 40 chapters and reviews. Dr. Wand was elected to The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and the American Association of Physicians.

Stephen T. Wegener, PhD is an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Director, Division of Rehabilitation Psychology and Neuropsychology. Dr. Wegener is interested in the use of self-management interventions to reduce pain and pain-related disability among individuals with pain following a spinal cord injury, amputation, severe lower extremity injury and occupational injury. He has three active clinical trials investigating the use of cognitive-behaviorally based self-management programs for reducing secondary disability including pain following these types of injury. In conducting a clinical trial for pain management using opioid treatments, Drs. Haythornthwaite and Wegener have found that patients who experience chronic pain evaluate treatments differently and are less willing to pursue certain types of medical treatments and more willing to pursue non-pharmacological treatments for chronic pain (Haythornthwaite et al. 2003b).

Myron Yaster, MD, is a Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine and the Richard J. Traystman Professor of Pediatric Anesthesiology, Critical Care Medicine, and Pediatrics. He has been at the forefront of studies that demonstrated that the newborn infant responds to pain, work that dates since the 1980’s. Dr. Yaster’s current research efforts are directed toward the effective treatment of acute pain.

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