Discovery and Validation of Novel Targets for Safe and Effective Treatment of Pain


Overreliance on prescription opioids for the management of chronic pain conditions, despite their poor ability to provide very effective pain relief, has contributed to the recent epidemic of deaths and addictions due to opioid overdose. This program seeks to accelerate the scientific discovery and/or validation of novel treatment targets for acute and chronic pain conditions, which would accelerate the development and optimization of effective non-addictive medications for pain, and reduce reliance on opioids.   

This program will:

  • Enable the basic science discovery of biological targets in the peripheral and central nervous system, as well as in the immune system and other tissue systems in the body that are critically involved in the detection and transmission of pain under disease conditions.
  • Accelerate rigorous validation of discovery-based targets for development of effective treatments for pain, with minimal side effects and little to no abuse/addiction liability.
  • Establish multiple pain therapeutic targets for small molecules and biologics such as antibodies and cell-based therapies that could fast-translate to optimization and clinical studies and testing in humans.   
  • Use multiple approaches and reproducibility testing in multiple laboratories, in order to justify significant investment in further development of effective therapeutics.    

Supporting NIH Institutes and Centers


  • National Pain Strategy
  • Federal Pain Research Strategy
    Morrone LA, Scuteri D, Rombolà L, Mizoguchi H, Bagetta G. Opioids Resistance in Chronic Pain Management. Current Neuropharmacology. 2017;15(3):444-456.
  • Mifflin KA, Kerr BJ. The transition from acute to chronic pain: understanding how different biological systems interact. Can J Anaesth. 2014 Feb;61(2):112-22.
  • Yekkirala AS, Roberson DP, Bean BP, Woolf CJ. Breaking barriers to novel analgesic drug development. Nature reviews Drug discovery. 2017;16(8):545-564. doi:10.1038/nrd.2017.87.


Michael L. Oshinsky, Ph.D.

D.P. Mohapatra, Ph.D.

This page last reviewed on August 2, 2019