2013 Frederick W.L. Kerr Basic Science Research Award
Michael J. Iadarola, PhD
Dr. Iadarola is a senior research scientist in the Department of Perioperative Medicine, Clinical Center, NIH. He received his doctoral training at Georgetown University Medical School, receiving a PhD in Pharmacology. His thesis research investigated antiepileptic agents that acted on the acid inhibitory transmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid. Dr. Iadarola was a postdoctoral fellow at the Duke-VA Neurology Research Laboratories where he continued research in antiepileptic drugs using aliphatic and aromatic substituted barbiturates and the in vitro hip¬pocampal slice preparation. He received additional postdoctoral training as a Pharmacology Research Associate Trainee (PRAT) of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. While a PRAT fellow, Dr. Iadarola was located in the National Institute of Mental Health, working in the William A. White Building at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, DC. He conducted research in the Laboratory of Preclinical Pharmacology under the direction of Dr. Erminio Costa and Dr. Hsiu-Ying T. Yang on neuropeptide bio¬chemistry and neurobiology. There he identified a fundamental role for the endogenous opioid peptide dynorphin and was one of the first to demonstrate that persistent pain states regulate gene expression in the spinal cord. Subsequently, he moved to the neurobiology and anesthesiology branch of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
Dr. Iadarola also is a senior investigator in the Anesthesiology Research Laboratories of the Department of Perioperative Medicine, Clinical Center, NIH, where he investigates mechanisms of pain transduction in primary afferent nociceptive neurons with a focus on the noxious heat-, inflammation-, acid-, and capsaicin-responsive ion channel TRPV1. This research examines the role of TRPV1 in transducing pain signals in vitro and in vivo in acute and inflammatory pain states and assessment of thermo-responsive fibers A-delta and C-fibers. Subsets of both populations contain TRPV1. The in vitro studies led to the use of resiniferatoxin, an ultrapotent analog of capsaicin (the active “hot” ingredient in hot pepper) to delete TRPV1 sensitive neurons or nerve fibers for pain control. This approach is now being used in the aforementioned Phase I clinical trial to treat intractable pain in patients with advanced cancer. A second new approach to TRPV1 pharmacology, positive allosteric modulation, is also being explored, and several lead compounds have been identified. Because of the critical role of TRPV1-expressing neurons in pain transduction a new “pain transcriptomics” program was initiated to sequence every messenger RNA expressed by TRPV1 neurons using next generation RNA-Seq. These studies have led to the elaboration of the TRPV1 nociceptome and complete transcriptome analysis of inflammatory and nerve injury models, and further sequencing of distinct DRG neuronal populations.
This award and lectureship were established in 1987 in honor of Frederick W. L. Kerr, a founder of the American Pain Society, to recognize individual excellence and achievement in pain scholarship. Since then, the Kerr medallion has been presented to 25 outstanding pain professionals—researchers and clinicians—whose career achievements have made important contributions to the field of pain.