Dental Influence at PAIN Day

This year, School of Dentistry students and faculty demonstrated their strong support for pain research at OHSU by attending the annual Pain Awareness and Investigation Network (PAIN) Day, held on April 11 in Vey Conference Center. The Network, established in 2011, brings together scientists and clinicians across the OHSU Schools with the goal of fostering collaborations and supporting research efforts related to pain. The Network’s motto is, “Discovery through Collaboration.”

Out of approximately 120 attendees of this year’s conference, more than 50 were from the School of Dentistry. At least four dozen dental students were accompanied by Dean Phillip Marucha, D.M.D., Ph.D., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Phyllis Beemsterboer, M.S., Ed.D., and two Integrative Biosciences faculty, Professor Curtis Machida, Ph.D., and Associate Professor Agnieszka Balkowiec, M.D., Ph.D.

The keynote speaker, William Maixner,  D.D.S., Ph.D., Director of the Center for Neurosensory Disorders at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, shared the results of his cutting-edge translational research in chronic trigeminal pain. 

“Trigeminal pain conditions are among the most difficult to treat and of most interest to dentists,” said Dr. Balkowiec. “It was an exceptional research presentation that has injected a large dose of excitement and hope for new developments in treatment of trigeminal pain conditions. Our students got an opportunity to appreciate the complexity of factors that contribute to chronic pain conditions, as well as the incredible amount of effort that is invested in every new discovery that they learn about in class.” 

Drs. Marucha and Balkowiec also met with Dr. Maixner prior to his seminar and discussed research collaborations. “Dr. Maixner and I share the same background in cardiovascular physiology,” said Dr. Balkowiec. “Until the meeting, I did not realize that there was a cross-talk between the cardiovascular and trigeminal systems. I am extremely grateful to Dr. Maixner for his advice to explore the influence of hypertension on chronic pain. Overall, Dr. Maixner’s visit was among the most scientifically-inspiring in my nearly 12 years with the School of Dentistry.”

After Dr. Maixner’s seminar, Dr. Balkowiec, who serves as PAIN Scientific Director and Chair of the Awards Committee, announced the 2014 winners of the Excellence in Pain Training Award, a new initiative to support pre- and postdoctoral trainees in pain research across the OHSU Schools.