Scientific Advisors

This prestigious group of scientists, who with their diverse areas of expertise guide the CPRA’s efforts to encourage the highest caliber of research and attract scientists of distinction to study Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions. The distinguished members of the Scientific Advisory Council for the CPRA include the following.


Allen W. Cowley, Jr., Ph.D., Professor and Chairman of Physiology, Medical College of Wisconsin

Research Focus: Renal physiology, cardiovascular physiology and genetics & genomics

Dr. Cowley is deeply committed to advancing the scientific understanding of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and coexisting pain conditions. For 20 years, he’s chaired The TMJ Association’s Scientific Advisory Committee, as well as chaired all seven of TMJA’s Scientific Meetings. Dr. Cowley’s scientific research focuses on obtaining an integrated understanding of the complex diseases of hypertension and kidney diseases using genomic and physiological approaches coupled with computer modeling. Given the historical lack of basic scientific research in the field of TMD and coexisting conditions, his experience with complex cardiovascular and renal diseases has provided a framework that can be broadly applied to these complex diseases.    


Allan I. Basbaum, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco

Research Focus:Neurological basis of pain and its control

Dr. Basbaum’s laboratory examines the mechanisms through which tissue and nerve injury produce changes in the peripheral and central nervous system that result in persistent pain. Of particular interest are the circuits that are altered in the setting of chronic pain. Key to their laboratory’s studies is the multidisciplinary approach that they take to the problem, using molecular, neuroanatomical, pharmacological and behavioral analyses. Most recently, they have turned their attention to the possibility of overcoming the neurological (persistent pain) consequences of peripheral nerve damage by transplanting embryonic cortical inhibitory precursor cells into the spinal cord. To date his group has demonstrated that the cells integrate into the host and can ameliorate the persistent pain associated with nerve damage.


Daniel Clauw, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology, Medicine (Rheumatology) and Psychiatry, University of Michigan

Research Focus: Pain Management, Anesthesiology

Dr. Clauw oversees a multidisciplinary clinical research team that performs both mechanistic studies and clinical trials on chronic conditions characterized by pain and fatigue, including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and gulf war illness. Dr. Clauw and his team have been instrumental in establishing that these systemic conditions, as well as regional pain syndromes such as interstitial cystitis, low back pain, and irritable bowel syndrome, all have common pathogenic and clinical features. One of the group’s primary interests is the study of central and peripheral pain processing using functional MRI and other tools, demonstrating that many patients with these conditions have a widespread disturbance in pain processing.


Ronald Dubner, D.D.S., Ph.D., Professor of Neural and Pain Sciences, University of Maryland Dental School

Research Focus: Descending brain stem modulation of persistent pain and spinal cord neuronal plasticity, neural and glial interactions, and mechanisms of persistent orofacial pain

Dr. Dubner’s research approach looks at molecular, neurochemical and physiological changes in the peripheral and central nervous system following tissue and nerve injury and the development of new pharmacological strategies for controlling acute and persistent pain. Of particular research interest is descending brain stem modulation of persistent pain and spinal cord neuronal plasticity, neural and glial interactions and mechanisms of persistent orofacial pain.


Martin Frank, Ph.D., Executive Director, American Physiological Society

Research Focus: Physiology

Dr. Frank received his Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics from the University of Illinois, Urbana, in 1973 working under Dr. William W. Sleator. He served as a research associate in the Cellular Physiology Laboratory, Michigan Cancer Foundation, Detroit, and in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Michigan State University, East Lansing. In 1975, he joined the Department of Physiology, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC, as an assistant professor. From 1978-1985, he served as the Executive Secretary, Physiology Study Section, Division of Research Grants, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.  From 1983-1985, he was a member of the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.  In 1985, Dr. Frank accepted a position as the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the American Physiological Society, a non-profit scientific association.  Dr. Frank manages a staff of 78 with an annual budget of $19 million. Dr. Frank is experienced in budget development and administration, program development and implementation, publication production and circulation, personnel management and evaluation, meeting and convention planning, Congressional relations and public speaking, fundraising, educational development and strategic planning.


Howard J. Jacob, Ph.D., HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Huntsville, Alabama

Research Focus: Genetics & genomics, renal physiology, cardiovascular physiology, quantitative genetics, genetic dissection of complex disease, disease interaction/target organ damage, integrative physiology, NextGen sequencing, and personalized medicine

Dr. Jacob is working toward establishing a scalable whole genome sequencing process that will allow doctors to use the technology for the millions of patients it could benefit. Throughout the course of nearly two decades at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Howard Jacob, PhD, served as Founding Director of the Human and Molecular Genetics Center and Professor of Physiology, and was awarded the Warren P. Knowles Chair of Genetics. Previously, he was on the faculty at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Jacob received his PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Iowa, and he completed post-doctoral fellowships in functional genomics and molecular genetics/genomics at Harvard Medical School, Stanford University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  


Jon D. Levine, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Neuroscience, University of California, San Francisco

Research Focus: Pathophysiology of Pain

Dr. Levine’s lab investigates signal transduction mechanisms for mechanical, thermal and chemical stimulus-induced activation of sensory neurons, as well as the mechanisms that underlie sensitization of responses to these stimuli.


Alan R. Light, Ph.D., Research Professor of Anesthesiology, Adjunct Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Utah

Research Focus: Neurobiology of pain and fatigue pathways

Dr. Light’ s current research focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of muscle pain and fatigue, and the plasticity they undergo following inflammation, injury and in disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.





Richard B. Lipton, MD, Edwin S. Lowe Chair and Professor of Neurology, Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health, Director, Montefiore Headache Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Research Focus: Headache/migraine

Dr. Richard Lipton is a neurologist and epidemiologist with a special interest in migraine, comorbid pain disorders and psychiatric conditions, and migraine diagnosis and treatment.  He is a Past President of the American Headache Society. He chaired the Migraine Classification Committee for the International Headache Society and has led numerous epidemiological studies and clinical trials.


Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, Redlich Professor of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine; Neurosciences; and Neurology, Stanford University
Research Focus:
Pain Medicine, Chronic Pain, Acute Pain, Neuropathic Pain, Low Back Pain, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Facial Pain, and Anesthesia

Dr. Mackey leads a multidisciplinary group of researchers whose mission is “To Predict, Prevent and Alleviate Pain through Science, Education and Compassion”. They achieve this through a combination of advanced neuroimaging, psychophysics, neurobehavioral and outcomes methods. Their work involves both mechanistic studies in humans as well as clinical trials of novel and safe therapeutic agents. They work to identify factors that cause people to develop chronic pain after surgery or an injury – and develop interventions to prevent that chronification. Their group has developed an open source (free) outcomes platform to study real-world patients to identify what works, for whom and why.


Emeran A. Mayer, MD, Director, Center for Neurobiology of Stress, Division of Digestive Diseases, University of California, Los Angeles
Research Focus: Functional gastrointestinal disease, neurobiology of stress

Dr. Mayer is the director of the Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress, and co-Director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center at UCLA. He has a career long interest in clinical and research aspects of brain body interactions, and is recognized as one of the leading investigators in the world of chronic visceral pain and of the brain gut axis. He has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1989. He is the principal investigator of several NIH grants, including a NIH Center grant on sex differences in functional GI disorders, a consortium grant on brain bladder interactions, and two RO1s on brain gut interactions in irritable bowel syndrome and the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy on the brain. He has published 330 peer reviewed articles in the leading GI and Neuroscience journals, including 100 reviews and book chapters and has co-edited three books.  


Ruby H.N. Nguyen, PhD, MHS, Assistant Professor, Division of Epidemiology & Community Health, University of Minnesota

Research Focus: Epidemiology and risk factors associated with vulvodynia and overlapping conditions  

Ruby Nguyen received her PhD and MHS in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University. Her current research focus centers around the epidemiology and risk factors associated with vulvodynia and chronic overlapping pain conditions. She also has general research interests in maternal, child and family health, the etiology of reduced fertility and infertility. She is currently examining a cohort of pregnant women with and without chronic vulvar pain.  


Philip A. Pizzo, MD, Professor of Immunology and Microbiology
Stanford University School of Medicine

Research Focus: Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, Pediatric Infectious Disease

For more than two decades, Dr. Pizzo’s work at the National Institutes of Health focused on childhood oncology, infectious diseases, and pediatric AIDS. He served as head of the Infectious Disease Section of the Pediatric Branch of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and chief of Pediatrics at the NCI. He and his co-workers helped change the paradigm for the understanding and management of these disorders. Most recently, Dr. Pizzo served as the Dean of the Stanford School of Medicine and chaired the IOM committee, Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research.


Suzanne D. Vernon, Ph.D., Scientist, Bateman Horne Center of Excellence

Research Focus: Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, patient-centered outcomes

Dr. Vernon led a team of scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where her research focused on chronic consequences of infectious disease.  Dr. Vernon went on to build a research program on chronic fatigue syndrome for the non-profit organization, CFIDS Association of America (now the Solve ME/CFS Initiative).  Within five years she recruited several new investigators into ME/CFS research, built a CFS-specific biobank and registry and spearheaded an era of patient-centered research.  Vernon now partners with the Bateman Horne Center of Excellence, where she’s developing a translation research program that researches severely ill patients.  This translation research program will be creatively disruptive and will include expert partners in personalized medicine, direct-to-consumer testing and computational biology.


Ursula Wesselmann, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Anesthesiology, Department of Anesthesiology/Division of Pain Management, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Research Focus: Pelvic/urogenital pain

Dr. Wesselmann has a long-standing interest in the neurobiological mechanisms of chronic pain syndromes in women. She is a clinical neurologist and experimental neurophysiologist with subspecialty training in pain management. Over the last 20 years, her NIH-funded studies have focused on the common theme of (1) elucidating peripheral and central pain mechanisms via neurophysiological, neuroanatomical and psychophysical paradigms in health and disease, specifically in females and (2) phenotyping subgroups of patients with pain syndromes based on different pathophysiological mechanisms, with the goal of identifying novel treatment strategies for these different phenotypes based on the underlying pathophysiology. 


Denniz Zolnoun, MD, MPH, Associate Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Research Focus: Vulvodynia, Clinical phenotyping of pain disorders 

Dr. Zolnoun is a clinical scientist whose research focuses on vulvodynia and clinical phentoyping of pain disorders. She’s developed and is testing the first set of sensory assessment instruments for pelvic muscle and vulvar mucosa. She has additional expertise in vulvovaginal and minimally invasive surgery, as well as chronic pain management.  

Share this page:



Share this page:

Donate ▸