Rita Allen Foundation Award in Pain Spotlight
Michael D. Burton, PhD
The University of Texas at Dallas
Novel Models to Assess Sufficiency of Single Cell Paradigms in CB1R-Analgesia
How/why did you enter the field of pain?
My introduction into the pain field was quite serendipitous. In 2014 during my first postdoc at UT Southwestern with Joel Elmquist, I was working on a project that involved peripheral sensory neurons in the context of metabolism. As I conducted experiments, it became clear that these mice were different; they did not seem to exhibit pain in a similar way throughout their life and I was intrigued to find out more information about them. Luckily Dr. Elmquist was so supportive, he allowed me to seek a second postdoc mentor in the realm of pain and use these animals for that purpose. This is when I found my second postdoc mentor, Ted Price at UT Dallas in 2015. After I e-mailed Ted my interest and resources, within an hour of the initial e-mail we had a meeting set-up and within an hour after our first in-person meeting, the aims of my eventually funded K-award were taking shape with Ted’s help.
What does it mean for you to be a 2019 Rita Allen Foundation Award in Pain recipient?
To receive the 2019 Rita Allen Foundation Award in Pain is an overwhelming honor. It means that my ideas in understanding cellular mechanisms in cannabinoid signaling are robust and represents a clear need in project development and understanding in the field. The project serves to help resolve some debate about several aspects of cannabinoid signaling and with the support of the Rita Allen Foundation Award, begins to lay important groundwork for future related projects in my lab. I know how difficult the competition is for this award and I am truly humbled.
What is your favorite part of your work, and why?
My favorite part of work is that I get to come in the lab and do what brings me happiness to an unbelievable level every day. I’m excited to answer important questions in the pain and immunology field that have become central in our understanding of how various systems are involved in pain signaling and its perpetuation. My students are often asking me how I have so much energy and my answer is “you never get tired when you’re having fun”.