Logo for University of Iowa Health Care This logo represents the University of Iowa Health Care



The Pain Research Program at the University of Iowa has been in existence for more than 15 years. Its faculty are internationally recognized for the seminal advances they have made in our understanding of the neurobiology of acute post-operative pain, musculoskeletal pain, migraine and the bulbospinal regulation of acute and chronic pain.

Many hold or have held leadership positions in national societies and key editorships for society journals. The program is recognized for its highly collaborative nature (see figure below), as well as the breadth and depth of its expertise (behavioral genetics in Drosophila to clinical trials of non-pharmacological approaches to pain management) and the diversity of its faculty. The structure of the program facilitates integrative research among its cadre of basic scientists, physician researchers, nurse researchers and physical therapy researchers who are based in multiple colleges, including the Carver College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Public Health and the College of Engineering.

Each laboratory brings complementary intellectual and technical strengths with strong interests in transitioning observations from the clinic to the laboratory, and from the laboratory to the clinic. The expertise of the faculty includes molecular and cellular biology, single cell and single fiber electrophysiology, immunohistochemical analysis, animal behavior, genetics, proteomics, imaging, quantitative sensory testing and clinical trials.

The Pain Research Program also provides a strong training and education program supported by a T32 award from the NIH.

The award, “Interdisciplinary Training Program in Pain Research,” provides up to two years of support for two PhD predoctoral trainees and two years of postdoctoral support to provide two clinician scientists (MD/PhD, DPT/PhD) with protected time to develop their independent research program. Kathleen Sluka and Yuriy Usachev are the program directors for this award.

The Pain Research Program hosts visiting faculty on a monthly basis providing faculty and trainees alike the opportunity to broaden their knowledge of the field and to discuss their research with other pain researchers. Biweekly meetings also bring faculty and trainees together for presentations of work-in-progress. Under the direction of Kathleen Sluka, the program provides additional training through a series of graduate courses designed to give an overview of pain from the basic science, clinical management and clinical research perspectives. These courses include: Introduction to Pain; Clinical Connections: Pain Management and Syndromes; Molecular, Cellular and Neural Mechanisms of Pain; Methodology in Clinical Pain Research.

The Pain Research Program is a collaborative and interactive group of researchers with interactions between many faculty trainers.

Interactions between pain faculty