UT Dallas launches new $11.3M neurological center to research origins of pain


University of Texas at Dallas' Ted Price, PhD, has been awarded $11.3 million on behalf of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to launch a new research center to study origins of pain over the next five years, according to a Dec. 8 report in The Dallas Morning News. 

The Human Nociceptor and Spinal Cord Molecular Signature Center will focus on genesis of pain on a cellular and molecular level to find new ways of treating pain. 

Dr. Price, the Ashbel Smith Professor of Neuroscience at UT Dallas, will work alongside Patrick Dougherty, PhD, the H.E.B. Professor in Cancer Research in the department of pain medicine at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Michele Curatolo, MD, PhD, director of the interventional pain program at University of Washington Medicine in Seattle. The three all have studied the specialized nerve cells near the root of the spine — human dorsal root ganglia — to explore causes of chronic pain. 

The team will study this nerve cell tissue to categorize peripheral nervous system neurons and observe how nociceptors react in chronic pain disorders. Nociceptors are the parts of a nerve cell that respond to pain stimuli. 

"While we may understand pain pretty well in animals at this point, we don't understand why that information translates, or fails to translate, to humans," Dr. Price told the publication. "The point of this initiative is to gain fundamental understanding of why that animal work isn't translating and to use that information to do a better job of developing pain therapeutics that can stop pain at its source."

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