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Pain Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE)

Publication about the PURE program

Kolber BJ, Janjic JM, Pollock J, K Tidgewell (2016). Summer undergraduate research: A new pipeline for pain clinical practice and research. BMC Med Educ. 2016 May 4;16(1):135.

2019 PURE Monday, May 20 to Friday, July 26, 2019

DUE DATE for Summer 2019 PURE is February 15, 2019 for external applicants and Duquesne University students.


Program Description

The Chronic Pain Research Consortium (CPRC) at Duquesne University welcomes undergraduate biology, pharmacy, chemistry, biochemistry, psychology, and health science majors interested in pain research to apply to the Pain Undergraduate Research Experience summer program. Applicants should apply through the PURE/NURE application page. Recomendation letters should be submitted through the Recomendation Letter Submission Page. This program is funded by a National Institutes of Health NINDS Summer Research Experience Grant and, previously, by the generous support of a Duquesne University Office of the Provost Interdisciplinary Research Consortia Grant. Other contributors have included the Dean's office of five different schools on campus and numerous departments and individual faculty members.

We highly encourage students whose backgrounds encompass diversity in culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, and economic background to apply. 

Program Objectives

The innovation of this program centers on involving students in basic science and clinical pain research at the undergraduate level. The objectives of this program are to:

  • Provide a means for students interested in biomedical research or medicine to participate in a full-time mentored research experience.
  • Connect undergraduate students with faculty mentors working on pain-specific basic science questions.
  • Stimulate pain research at Duquesne University by bringing together experts in the pain biology, chemistry, drug discovery and clinical fields with excellent undergraduate researchers.
  • Explore the physiological, chemical, and psychological components of pain disorders, treatments, and research.
  • Aid in the professional growth of undergraduate students and faculty mentors through interactions with individuals who are currently living with chronic pain.
  • Provide effective and meaningful discussions and training in ethics related to both the treatment and study of pain.

Program Details

Each undergraduate fellow will be paired with a faculty mentor for the summer. This faculty mentor will help guide the student through a summer research topic that will explore a timely and important question in the field of pain. Students will work in the research lab for the majority of their time in the summer. In addition, students will:

  1. Participate in a 6-week long ethics mini-course with the rest of the Summer Undergraduate Research Program.
  2. Attend a once per month pain journal club where they will discuss primary literature with faculty, students, and clinicians.
  3. Have the opportunity to interact with individuals that are currently living with chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and painful bladder syndrome. These interactions will help students understand the personal and practical aspects of managing pain. 
  4. Use a "pain empathy kit" developed here at Duquesne that simulates some of the sensations experienced by individuals living with chronic pain.
  5. Develop and present to local middle school students an educational pain demonstration as part of our Community Engaged Learning program.
  6. Receive a competitive summer stipend (typically >$4,000) and free on-campus housing.

Eligibility and Application Requirements

There are two parts to the application:

1. Statement of Goals: In 2 pages or less (1) describe your interest in scientific research (2) describe your interest in pain or pain research including information that might help us place you in a research lab (hint - Look at the faculty list below to find research you are interested in) and (3) tell us about your future scientific goals and how the program will help you achieve those goals.

2. Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV): (No page limit) Please include your educational background, extracurricular activities, previous research experience, and publications/presentations (if any).

All undergraduate science major students are eligible to apply for the PURE. However, students must identify a research mentor and pain-specific project in order to be considered for the program. A list of researchers at Duquesne University that are involved in pain research can be found in the CPRC personnel page. If you are interested in being considered for the PURE program, please indicate so in the application.

No prior research experience is necessary but a clear interest in pain research is necessary.

Application to the PURE program does not exclude students from being considered for the main 2018 Summer Undergraduate Research Program or the Neurodegenerative Undergraduate Research Experience (NURE)

PURE Application due dates:  External and Duquesne University students - February 15, 2019

PURE Alumni


Student (major) Home institution Faculty Mentor
Edward Hilton (biochemistry)             Duquesne University Dr. Benedict Kolber


Student (major) Home Institution Faculty Mentor
Abigail Cox (biology) Duquesne University Dr. Benedict Kolber (Natural Sciences)
Andrew DeMarco (biochemistry) Duquesne University Dr. Michael Cascio (Natural Sciences)
Jaclyn Fiedor (biology) Duquesne University Dr. Lynn Simko (Nursing)
Eun Joo Hong (pharmacy) Duquesne University  Dr. Jelena Janjic (Pharmacy)
Kara Jones (biology) Duquesne University Dr. Benedict Kolber (Natural Sciences)
Josie Kadjo (pharmacy) Duquesne University Dr. Jelena Janjic (Pharmacy)
Caela Long (neuroscience) Swarthmore College Dr. Benedict Kolber (Natural Sciences)
Ryan Sanders (biology) Duquesne University Dr. John A. Pollock (Natural Sciences)
Rachel Sweetnich (physcial therapy) Duquesne University Drs. Kim Szucs and Matt Kostek (Health Sciences)
Jordan Waddell Seton Hill University Dr. Jane Cavanaugh (Pharmacy)


Student (major) Home Institution Faculty Mentor
Abigail Cox (Biology) Duquesne University Dr. Benedict Kolber (Natural Sciences)
Marissa Behun (Biomedical Engineering) Duquesne University Dr. Benedict Kolber (Natural Sciences)
Amanda Garces (Chemistry) University of Havana Dr. Kevin Tidgewell (Pharmacy)
Connor Evans (Biomedical Engineering) Duquesne University Drs. Kim Szucs and Matt Kostek (Health Sciences)
Josh Pirl (Biology) Brown University Dr. Allyson O'Donnell (Natural Sciences)
Susan Weiner (Neuroscience) Drew University Dr. Jelena Janjic (Pharmacy)
Mia Furgurson (Biochemistry) Texas State University Dr. Michael Cascio (Natural Sciences)
Holly Furnari (Biopsychology) Carnegie Mellon University Dr. Alex Kranjec (Liberal Arts)
Mollie Renk (Health Sciences) La Roche College Dr. John Pollock (Natural Sciences)
Elisabeth DeMarco (Biology) Purdue University Dr. Lauren O'Donnell (Pharmacy)
Nathan Gartland (Pharmacy) Duquesne University Dr. Jane Cavanaugh (Pharmacy)


Student (major) Home Institution Faculty Mentor
Marissa Behun (Biomedical Engineering) Duquesne University Dr. Benedict Kolber (Biology)
Adam Gargano (Chemistry) Duquesne University Dr. Michael Cascio (Chemistry)
Youngrim Lee (Biology) Duquesne University

Dr. John Pollock (Biology)

Sarah Leep (Biology) Duquesne University Dr. Benedict Kolber (Biology)
Shannon Loftus (Biology) University of Scranton Dr. Jelena Janjic (Pharmacy)
Analise Zapadka (Biology) Duquesne University Dr. Benedict Kolber (Biology)


Student (major) Home Institution Faculty Mentor
Josh Baktay (Computer Science) Duquesne University Dr. Rachael Neilan (Math and CS)
Alyssa Brauckmann (Biology) Duquesne University Dr. John Pollock (Biology)
Antonion Lopez (Neuroscience) Boston University Dr. Benedict Kolber (Biology)
Wenceslao Martinez (Kinesiology) Western Michigan Unversity Dr. Matthew Kostek (PT)
Talia Salenger (Chemistry) University of Rochester Dr. Kevin Tidgewell (Pharmacy)
Sadie Riskus (Biology) Duquense University Dr. Benedict Kolber (Biology)
Meeraal Zaheer (Neuroscience) Vassar College Dr. Benedict Kolber (Biology)