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Grant Funds Chronic Pain Study at Duquesne University

About 116 million Americans live with chronic pain. It is the most common reason to seek medical treatment, and costs businesses $600 billion annually in medical costs, sick time and reduced productivity. At any time, about 20 to 30 percent of U.S. residents are coping with chronic pain.

For 10 years, Duquesne University professor Dr. Jelena M. Janjic has been one of them. As assistant professor of pharmaceutics in the Mylan School of Pharmacy, she conducts research in ways to improve therapy for chronic pain patients.

Janjic and Dr. John Pollock, associate professor in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Science at Duquesne, have formed the Duquesne University Chronic Pain Research Consortium, which recently received an Interface Seed Grant for $100,000 from the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative. Additional funding has been provided by the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Science and the Mylan School of Pharmacy to explore the molecular biology of nerve cells as they respond to pain.

Since the consortium formed in Spring 2011, it has grown to include 17 faculty from the schools of pharmacy, science and health science with expertise in pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, molecular imaging, animal behavior, pharmaceutics, immunology, neuroscience, neuropharmacology and neurobiology. They will focus on the way the immune system, stress and pain systems interact for patients with cancer pain, neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia and regenerative therapies.

"It is a great range of talent, all eager to work collaboratively in a real way," said Janjic, who studies theranostics, (combining therapy and diagnostic imaging) to explore how drugs can be made more effective by being delivered to specific tissues in new imaging-supported ways. She realized that her research into cancer theranostics could also relate to the cellular and molecular mechanisms of chronic pain.
Pollock saw connections between her work and his work in tissue engineering and regeneration therapy, particularly the interaction between the immune system and the peripheral nervous system with a specific focus on TRP (calcium channel) gene expression.

Dr. Benedict Kolber, a new assistant professor of biological sciences, fit right into the group, with a research interest in the interaction of stress and pain in the central nervous system using physiology, molecular biology, optogenetics and behavior.

"We had a good cohort of people who were doing related studies," said Dr. Pollock.

"We need to provide people who are managing and living with chronic pain more ways to reduce and eliminate pain," she said.

Duquesne University
Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic research universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. The University is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review for its rich academic programs in 10 schools of study for 10,000-plus graduate and undergraduate students, and by the Washington Monthly for service and contributing to students' social mobility. Duquesne is a member of the U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for its contributions to Pittsburgh and communities around the globe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges acknowledge Duquesne's commitment to sustainability.

This release was posted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 at 12:10 pm and is filed under Events, Research & Grants.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.