So NIH has released an intention to begin a new funding opportunity for “Transformative” R01s. Included in the focus is the transition from acute to chronic pain. This “transition” is a mysterious one and the fact of the matter is that we know very little about how or why this happens. It appears that NIH has been persuaded that we need to know more about this and that such knowledge may help us design more effective analgesics or even compounds that can prevent such a transition.
A few quick-hit points:
1) I am familiar with the back story on the work to get such a directive into the NIH roadmap and it has been a long, hard fought process. Kudos to those who put this proposal together and saw it through.
2) This is a big step for the field. As I have mentioned before, pain research has been struggling for funding and general NIH attention of late despite the obvious clinical importance (more people see docs for pain treatment than any other reason).
3) Hopefully this will be a stepping stone to ramp up the NIH pain consortium. Once upon a time there was a huge pain research presence at NIH. Although increasing the number of pain-oriented labs at NIH may never happen (and may not be the best way to go), I see no down side to utilizing the pain consortium to increase the NIH focus on pain research (and to get into some congressional offices to talk about the importance of pain research).