News Release

Monday, February 13, 2012

Members of new Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee announced

More than 100 million Americans suffer from migraines, arthritis and other chronic pain conditions with an annual economic toll of nearly $600 billion in medical bills and lost productivity. To help address this problem, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Affordable Care Act, to create a new Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee. Its members, announced today by the National Institutes of Health, include biomedical researchers, representatives from nonprofit public advocacy organizations, and representatives of seven federal government organizations that deal with pain research and patient care.

The committee will work to identify critical gaps in basic and clinical research on the symptoms, causes, and treatment of pain and will recommend federal research programs in these areas. The focus will be to coordinate pain research activities across the federal government with the goals of stimulating pain research collaboration, fully leveraging the government resources dedicated to supporting pain research, and providing an important avenue for public involvement. The committee will explore public-private partnerships to broaden collaborative, cross-cutting research and consider best practices in disseminating information about pain to public and professional audiences.

“Pain is a universal condition, a serious and costly public health issue, and a challenge for family, friends, and health care providers,” said Story Landis, Ph.D., director of NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the committee chair. “This committee will play an important role working with federal agencies spearheading pain research. I am pleased that its membership reflects a great depth and wide range of both scientific expertise and effective public advocacy.”

The committee appointees include leading federal officials together with six non-federal scientists, physicians, and other health professionals, as well as six members of the general public who are representatives of leading research, advocacy and service organizations.

After tracking the work of several government agencies that conduct and support pain research, the committee will develop a report on scientific advances in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of chronic and acute pain.

In addition to Dr. Landis, the following federal agency representatives will serve on the committee:

  • Martha J. Somerman, D.D.S., Ph.D., is director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the NIH.
  • Charles G. Helmick III, M.D., is a senior medical epidemiologist with the Arthritis Program at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Audrey N. Kusiak, Ph.D., is a portfolio manager in the Rehabilitation Research and Development Service at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Research and Development, where her portfolio includes research on spinal cord injury, pain, regenerative medicine and translational neural repair.
  • Bob Andrew Rappaport, M.D., is director of the Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia, and Addiction Products in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • Richard Ricciardi, Ph.D., N.P., is a health scientist in the Center for Primary Care, Prevention, and Clinical Partnerships at HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and a pediatric and family nurse practitioner.
  • Maj. Gen. Richard W. Thomas, M.D., D.D.S., most recently served as the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Surgeon General. His current assignment is commanding general, Western Region Medical Command.

Non-federal researchers appointed to the committee:

  • Ronald Dubner, D.D.S., Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, Baltimore, where he chaired the Department of Biomedical Sciences from 1995 to 2003. He conducts research on pain mechanisms and the development of new pharmacological strategies for acute and chronic pain. Dr. Dubner was previously president of the American Pain Society and chief editor of the international journal Pain.
  • Carmen R. Green, M.D., is professor of anesthesiology, obstetrics and gynecology, and health management and policy at the University of Michigan's schools of Medicine and Public Health, Ann Arbor. Her research agenda focuses on access to health and pain care, pain assessment, management and outcomes, minority and women's health, clinician decision making and health policy. She also conducts studies on health and pain disparities due to age, race/ethnicity, gender, class and geography.
  • Sean Mackey, M.D., Ph.D., is chief of the Division of Pain Management and associate professor of anesthesiology, neurosciences and neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif. His studies integrate advanced neurobehavioral, psychophysical and neuroimaging techniques to elucidate and characterize the underlying mechanisms of pain.
  • Christine A. Miaskowski, R.N., Ph.D., is an American Cancer Society clinical research professor and the associate dean for academic affairs at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing. She also is the Sharon A. Lamb Endowed Chair in Symptom Management Research in the Department of Physiological Nursing. Her research focuses on the evaluation of the harmful effects of unrelieved pain and the development of strategies to improve pain management.
  • Michael A. Moskowitz, M.D., is professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School affiliated with the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology, Boston. His laboratory in the Neuroscience Center at Massachusetts General Hospital conducts studies related to migraine, stroke and traumatic brain injury. Dr. Moskowitz also is a past president of the International Headache Society and the Society for Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism.
  • Wally R. Smith, M.D., is professor and chairman of the Division of Quality Health Care and scientific director for the Center on Health Disparities at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, where he is also vice chair for research in the Division of General Internal Medicine. His research interests include pain in sickle cell disease and studies centered on health disparities, health services, physician decision making and managed care quality.

Appointees from public advocacy organizations:

  • Terrie Cowley is president and co-founder of the TMJ Association, Milwaukee, Wis., a nonprofit organization established in 1989. Ms. Cowley has worked as a patient representative with several government agencies, including the Institute of Medicine, the NIH and the FDA.
  • Elizabeth B. Gilbertson is chief of strategy for Unite Here Health, Aurora, Ill., and serves on the board of directors for the nonprofit National Committee for Quality Assurance, Washington, D.C. She is a past president of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union Welfare Fund.
  • Tamara K. Liller is president of the National Fibromyalgia Partnership, Linden, Va., a nonprofit organization established in 1992 and dedicated to disseminating medically accurate, quality resource information on fibromyalgia to patients, health care professionals and the general public.
  • Tina M. Tockarshewsky is president and chief executive officer of The Neuropathy Association, New York City, a nonprofit organization providing patient support, neuropathy education, awareness and advocacy as well as promoting research into the causes of and cures for peripheral neuropathies.
  • Mary Vargas, J.D., is chair of the board of directors for the American Pain Foundation, Baltimore, and partner at Stein & Vargas, LLP, Baltimore, a national law firm focusing on discrimination on the basis of disability.
  • Christin Veasley is executive director for the National Vulvodynia Association, Silver Spring, Md., a nonprofit organization that serves women with chronic vulvar pain and related pain disorders, as well as medical professionals and scientists interested in research on vulvodynia.

The committee is expected to meet at least once a year, with members slated to serve overlapping three-year terms. The first meeting will be held March 27, 2012.

NINDS is the nation's leading funder of research on the brain and nervous system. The NINDS mission is to reduce the burden of neurological disease — a burden borne by every age group, by every segment of society, by people all over the world.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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