Pain Research

Division of Pain Research

The U-M Department of Anesthesiology is actively involved in acute and chronic pain research. Current investigations within the Division of Pain Research include genetic predictors of acute and chronic pain sensitivity, additives to local anesthetics for peripheral nerve blockade as well as mechanisms and risk factors for peripheral nerve injury; biomarkers in interstitial cystitis, intrathecal drug delivery systems and new therapies for migraines. The pain research opportunities are virtually endless, with ongoing planned collaboration with other departments in the medical school and university.  

Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research

The University of Michigan has a world-class functional imaging center and a top engineering school. The addition of this Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center to the department brings a group of experienced, internationally-renowned researchers in the field of centrally-mediated pain. The center is is committed to improving recognition, understanding and management of disorders distinguished by symptoms of chronic pain and fatigue. We are dedicated to providing current, evidence-based information to health care providers, patients as well as patients' family and friends. Our research focuses on exploring the underlying neurobiologic mechanisms that drive these disorders, as well as testing new and existing interventions. Our goals are to advance the understanding and treatment of these illnesses and to educate the public as well as the medical and scientific community.

Our Faculty

Chad Brummett, M.D.

Chad Brummett, M.D. Division of Pain Research Director Clinical Research Director [email protected] Dr. Brummett is the Director of the Division of Pain Research and, more broadly, is the Director of Clinical Research in the Department of Anesthesiology. His interests include predictors of chronic post-surgical pain as well as failure to derive benefit from interventions and surgeries done primarily for pain. In particular, Dr. Brummett is interested in the impact of a fibromyalgia-like or centralized pain phenotype on surgical outcomes and prediction of response to interventions for chronic pain (e.g. Epidural steroid and facet injections). He also leads an institution-wide initiative to create a biorepository for research of genetic factors associated with the development of disease and response to treatment. In addition, Dr. Brummett was the first to describe the use of peripheral perineural dexmedetomidine, and his early research focused on the efficacy, safety and mechanisms of dexmedetomidine added to local anesthetics for peripheral nerve blocks. He has since translated that work to humans. Please see his recent publications.

Daniel Clauw, M.D.

Daniel Clauw, M.D. Professor of Anesthesiology [email protected] Daniel Clauw is a Professor of Anesthesiology. Medicine (Rheumatology) and Psychiatry at the University of Michigan. He serves as Director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center. Until January 2009 he also served as the first Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research within the University of Michigan Medical School, and PI of the UM Clinical and Translational Sciences Award (CTSA). He attended the University of Michigan for both undergraduate and medical school studies and then completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology Fellowship at Georgetown University. He joined the faculty at Georgetown University in 1990, and while there, founded the Georgetown Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, and served as the Division Chief of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy, and Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine. Since moving to UM in 2001, Dr. Clauw has continued his commitment to the clinical care and research into chronic pain, having become an internationally known expert in the central nervous system contributions to chronic pain states, with over 200 publications in conditions such as fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, low back pain, osteoarthritis, vulvodynia, and endometriosis. He is also an active mentor, serving as the primary mentor for 17 individuals on NIH K awards since returning to Michigan. Please see his recent publications.

Jenna Goesling, Ph.D.

Jenna Goesling, Ph.D. Professor of Anesthesiology [email protected] Jenna Goesling is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesilogy at the University of Michigan. Her interests include understanding the behavioral and psychological factors that impact chronic pain, promoting health behavior change (e.g., smoking cessation), and developing individualized interventions specific to opioid use. Please see her recent publications.

Richard Harris, Ph.D.

Richard Harris, Ph.D. Assistant Professor [email protected] Richard Harris is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine Division of Rheumatology at the University of Michigan. His background is in basic science and clinical research in alternative medicine. He received his B.S. degree in Genetics from Purdue University in 1992 and his Ph. D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from UC Berkeley in 1997. He is a graduate of the Maryland Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine and has received an MS degree in Clinical Research Design and Statistical Analysis at the University of Michigan. Dr. Harris is currently investigating the neurobiological mechanisms of both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic (acupuncture/acupressure) treatments for chronic pain and fatigue conditions. His recent investigations have focused on the role of brain neurotransmitters and their receptors in humans with chronic pain. He is a member of the American Pain Society and a co-President for the Society for Acupuncture Research. Please see his recent publications.

Steven Harte, Ph.D.

Steven Harte, Ph.D. Assistant Research Scientist [email protected] Steven Harte, Ph.D., is an Assistant Research Scientist in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Internal Medicine/Rheumatology at the University of Michigan. His research interests include multimodal sensory processing and integration in chronic pain, and the development and application of quantitative sensory testing methods for pain measurement. He received his Ph.D. in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience from Wayne State University and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan. He is a member of the American Pain Society, the International Association for the Study of Pain and the Society for Neuroscience. Please see his recent publications.

Afton Hassett, Psy.D.

Afton L. Hassett, Psy.D. [email protected] Afton Hassett is a licensed clinical psychologist and an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Michigan. She received her BFA from Colorado State University and her doctorate from Alliant International University in San Diego, CA. As a principal investigator at the Chronic Pain & Fatigue Research Center, she conducts interdisciplinary research related to exploring the role of cognitive, affective and behavioral factors in chronic pain populations. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and is a leader in the field of resilience and pain research. Her work has focused on exploring positive emotions and affective balance in people with pain; health-related quality of life in adult and pediatric rheumatology patients; and novel interventions to promote resilience and self-management for individuals with chronic pain. Her most exciting and innovative positive health research involves developing resilience-enhancing activities to promote well-being and the sparing of premature cellular aging in patients with chronic pain (telomere research), as well as developing scalable “prehabilitation” programs for surgical patients to try before surgery to optimize post-surgical outcomes including sparing opioid use. She is committed to education for individuals at many levels including patients, undergraduate and graduate students, medical residents, post-docs, physicians and other health care providers. Dr. Hassett is the Director of Clinical Pain Research at the Back & Pain Center and the Past President of the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals – a division of the American College of Rheumatology. Current funding sources include National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the University of Michigan. Please see her recent publications

David Williams, Ph.D.

David Williams, Ph.D. Professor of Anesthesiology, Medicine (Rheumatology), Psychiatry and Psychology [email protected] David A. Williams, Ph.D., is Professor of Anesthesiology, Medicine (Rheumatology), Psychiatry, and Psychology at the University of Michigan where he also serves as the Associate Director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, Co-Director of Research Development within the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR), and is on the senior faculty of the Neurosciences Program. Please see his recent publications.

For More Information

Chad Brummett, M.D.

Director of Clinical Research
Director of Pain Research

Daniel Clauw, M.D.

Director of Translation Research
Director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center