UNC to lead $16 million research study on pain disorders

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been selected as the lead research site for a five-year, $16 million research program that aims to reveal risk factors and genetic markers for chronic pain conditions such as jaw-related disorders, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and lower back pain.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been selected as the lead research site for a five-year, $16 million research program that aims to reveal risk factors and genetic markers for chronic pain conditions such as jaw-related disorders, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and lower back pain.

The Orofacial Pain Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment II (OPPERA II) program will conduct follow-up assessments of 3,200 adults from the OPPERA I program and enroll 3,000 new participants. The investigators will assess behaviors, psychological characteristics, genetic factors, and other biological mechanisms that contribute to the onset and persistence of common chronic pain conditions.

“Chronic pain is a substantial health problem — one that we’re just starting to truly understand — that plagues more than 100 million U.S. citizens,” said William Maixner, PhD, DDS, director of the Regional Center for Neurosensory Disorders at UNC’s School of Dentistry. “OPPERA II is critical to furthering our knowledge about human pain conditions. Once we better understand the causes of chronic pain and how one type of pain condition relates to another, we’ll be better able to treat those who suffer daily from these disorders.”

Maixner and Gary Slade, PhD, distinguished professor in the department of dental ecology, will serve as program directors. Battelle Memorial Institute’s Center for Analytics and Public Health will serve as the program’s coordinating center.

The funding, by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, will be split among the study’s four recruitment sites: the UNC School of Dentistry’s Regional Center for Neurosensory Disorders, the University of Florida at Gainesville, the University at Buffalo, N.Y, and the University of Maryland at Baltimore. Other organizations assisting with the research are the University of Washington and Harvard University.

Source: University of North Carolina

More in Periodontal Complications