Story Landis, PhD
Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke/National Institutes of Health
2013 Keynote Address—The Future of Pain Research: Challenges and Opportunities
Please give us a brief description of your current area of specialty. What sparked your interest in your field?
I am a developmental neurobiologist by training. I was particularly interested in how, during development, functionally appropriate synapses form in the nervous system. For the past 17 years, I have devoted my time to science administration, first as the scientific director of the intramural program at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and then for the past 9 years as director of NINDS, responsible for both intramural and extramural activities.
What is the one thing you hope APS attendees will take away from the information you present during your keynote address at the annual meeting?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds a broad range of investigations into the basic mechanisms of pain as well as translational projects aimed at better treatments and clinical studies, both epidemiological and interventional. My talk will highlight a number of important advances and lay out opportunities for future progress.
In your opinion, what is spurring pain research in our current healthcare climate?
It is important to recognize that the ultimate goal of all individual research programs and the nation’s collective pain research efforts is to improve care for people with pain. As such, the urgent need to bring research advances into the clinic can be met only through action at all levels and from all stakeholders. No single entity, including NIH, has adequate resources to meet this challenge. Fortunately, many organizations and individuals contribute enormous efforts toward this end.
The Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, a newly established entity in the pain research arena, is providing a platform for stakeholders with diverse interests to identify opportunities and gaps in the federal pain research portfolio. All of these efforts to translate research into clinical practice need to be enhanced by better communication between researchers and clinicians, increased collaboration among private and public funding sources of pain research, more sharing of knowledge and resources between industry and public entities, and greater outreach to and from professional societies and patient groups on research findings.
Our healthcare system faces huge hurdles in providing integrated and multidisciplinary care for millions of people with chronic pain. Overcoming barriers to providing integrated pain management can only be achieved through consolidated efforts at many levels. A crucial part of those efforts is support of pain research aimed at developing, validating, and assessing multidisciplinary approaches. Successful steps have been taken by NIH and other federal agencies to support and encourage collaborative and multidisciplinary programs that span basic through clinical pain research. Funding announcements and special programs encourage nonpain researchers to partner with experts in the pain field, workshops bring together diverse expertise, grants are awarded to assess efficacy of multidisciplinary interventions, and multifaceted research projects to understand and treat chronic pain conditions are supported. Such research efforts are helping to build a foundation for implementation of more integrated and effective approaches to pain management.
Featured in the March 2013 Issue of E-News