More than 100 million Americans suffer from migraines, arthritis and other chronic pain conditions with an annual economic toll of nearly $600 billion in medical bills and lost productivity. To help address this problem, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Affordable Care Act, to create a new Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee. Its members, announced Feb. 13, 2012, by the National Institutes of Health, include biomedical researchers, representatives from nonprofit public advocacy organizations, and representatives of seven federal government organizations that deal with pain research and patient care.
The appointee from UCSF School of Nursing, Christine A. Miaskowski, R.N., Ph.D., is the American Cancer Society clinical research professor and the associate dean for academic affairs at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing. She also is the Sharon A. Lamb Endowed Chair in Symptom Management Research in the Department of Physiological Nursing. Her research focuses on the evaluation of the harmful effects of unrelieved pain and the development of strategies to improve pain management.
The committee (website: http://iprcc.nih.gov/) will work to identify critical gaps in basic and clinical research on the symptoms, causes, and treatment of pain and will recommend federal research programs in these areas. The focus will be to coordinate pain research activities across the federal government with the goals of stimulating pain research collaboration, fully leveraging the government resources dedicated to supporting pain research, and providing an important avenue for public involvement. The committee will explore public-private partnerships to broaden collaborative, cross-cutting research and consider best practices in disseminating information about pain to public and professional audiences.
“Pain is a universal condition, a serious and costly public health issue, and a challenge for family, friends, and health care providers,” said Story Landis, Ph.D., director of NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the committee chair. “This committee will play an important role working with federal agencies spearheading pain research. I am pleased that its membership reflects a great depth and wide range of both scientific expertise and effective public advocacy.”
The committee appointees include leading federal officials together with six non-federal scientists, physicians, and other health professionals, as well as six members of the general public who are representatives of leading research, advocacy and service organizations.