Benedict J. Kolber, PhD
Department of Biological Sciences
Research and Educational Coordinator
Chronic Pain Research Consortium
How has membership in APS been of value to you and your professional development?
Membership in APS has been incredibly helpful to my professional development. I moved into the pain field during my postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Robert Gereau IV. Having come from another field, I initially struggled to grasp the breadth of the field and the researchers involved. Attending APS meetings over the past 4 years has allowed me to learn about the amazing work being done in the lab and clinic, and it has allowed me to network with experienced and accomplished researchers from around the world.
What is your area of specialty?
My lab specializes in understanding the interactions between pain and stress. In particular, we look at lateralization of brain areas in the modulation of pain and stress in animal models.
What has been a highlight of your work? Are you and your staff especially proud of a particular project or accomplishment?
During my postdoctoral work, I worked on identifying the lateralization of pain in the amygdala. Specifically, in rodents, the right amygdala seems to play a predominant role in the modulation of pain compared to the left amygdala. Now, as a faculty member, my lab is continuing to pursue this basic science question. In addition, we are also pursuing new therapeutic options for patients suffering from comorbid chronic pain and depression. Although these studies are ongoing and are at the basic science level, we hope that they will be helpful for patients in the long run.
What initially sparked your interest in working in your field?
My graduate work was in the field of depression and stress. What initially sparked my interest in pain was that we used nociceptive stimuli in our stress assays without really ever appreciating that they were painful stimuli. Looking into these stimuli, I realized that there was, relatively, little overlap between the basic science study of pain and stress even though there is a clear connection in the clinic.
Who is your favorite role model and why?
My favorite role model is my undergraduate research advisor. She has an empowering interest in scientific communication and an impressive ability to relate her science to students and to the public. Keeping in mind the needs of the public is an important burden that all basic scientists share. This is particularly relevant in the pain field, where our research must be constantly updated with the needs and experiences of patients.
Featured in the September 2013 Issue of E-News