I have an interest in the development of neuroscience technologies for clinical use. My primary areas of research are neuroimaging and brain stimulation. I am currently involved in several projects:
1) Characterizing Chronic Low Back Pain
Low back pain is one of the most common types of chronic pain. Individuals with low back pain experience a range of symptoms that limit various aspects of daily life. Research from our lab found brain regions in structural MRI scans that differ between healthy research volunteers and research participants with chronic low back pain. Additional research using pain questionnaires, sensory testing, and MRI scanning is intended to further understand the neurobiology of low back pain. Such an understanding can advance the diagnosis and treatment of low back pain.
2) Characterizing Pain Processing with Long-Term Opioid Use
Opioids are a large class of medications used primarily for treating pain. While opioids can be quite effective for pain with short-term use, the effects with long-term use are less clear. Patients with chronic pain or in methadone maintenance programs may use opioid medications for a long period of time. Research using pain questionnaires, sensory testing, and MRI scanning is intended to further understand pain processing with long-term opioid use. Such an understanding can inform the use of opioids for treating pain.
3) Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation for Reducing Pain
There are many new types of non-invasive stimulation, such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS). Such stimulation is generally safe for research to study brain function, and TMS is even FDA approved as a therapy for depression. Research is intended to understand if non-invasive stimulation can alter pain in patients, such as volunteers with chronic low back pain or with complex regional pain syndrome.