Future Leaders in Pain Research
2006 Grant Recipient: Jill C. Fehrenbacher, PhD
University of Texas Health Science Center—San Antonio
San Antonio, TX
Sex-Dependent Modulation of Clinical Outcomes Following Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
Please state which institution you are currently conducting research.
Indiana University School of Medicine
How did receiving the Future Leaders in Pain Research Grant impact your career in pain research?
The Future Leaders in Pain grant supplied the start-up money for a clinical research project. This project taught me a great deal about organizing and conducting clinical research in pain. In addition, the grant provided me with some financial independence to experience being a principle investigator, albeit on a smaller scale.
What is your current research focus? Briefly describe the importance of this work and how it advances the APS goals, mission, and your own personal development.
Approximately 40% of patients who receive chemotherapy develop sensory neuropathy, which can manifest with a variety of symptoms including mechanical and cold allodynia, numbness and tingling, loss of proprioception, and/or long-lasting burning pain. Unfortunately, for some patients this toxicity may be severe, function-limiting, and sometimes irreversible, even after cessation of drug administration. Since there is currently a lack of effective therapies to manage the symptoms and pain associated with the neurotoxicity, some patients must discontinue therapy, limiting the likelihood of effectively eliminating the cancer. There is a dire need to find pharmacological agents that can reduce the incidence or severity of chemotherapy-induced neurotoxicity so that patients have a better chance of completing their course of treatment and improved quality of life. The lack of these agents is due, in large part, because the mechanisms of neurotoxicity remain unknown. My laboratory is currently focusing on identification of the mechanisms for taxane-induced neuropathy. We are collaborating with a breast cancer oncologist who has performed GWAS analysis to identify potentially important novel proteins in the development of neuropathy. The project examining chemotherapy-induced neuropathy is the most clinically relevant research that I have conducted and there is a great personal satisfaction that our research might improve the quality of life for cancer patients who are already challenged with so much.
Are you still an APS member? If yes, do you feel that it has been of value to your professional development?
Yes; I am still a member of the APS. I feel that the APS meetings are a valuable opportunity to meet with other researchers interested in pain in a more intimate setting.