Expert to Talk About Neurological Basis of Pain and Its Control

Academic Senate Selects Allan Basbaum to Deliver Translational Science Lecture at UCSF on April 17

UCSF's Allan Basbaum talks about "The Science of Pain" as part of Mini Medical School for the Public at UCSF on March 15, a series sponsored by the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine and presented on video by UCTV.

Allan Basbaum, PhD, FRS, professor and chair of the Department of Anatomy at UCSF, has been selected by the Academic Senate as the recipient of the Second Annual Faculty Research Lecture in Translational Science. 

In selecting Basbaum to receive this award, the Academic Senate recognizes the contributions of faculty who translate bench science to a bedside clinical practice directly benefiting both patients and legions of other clinicians worldwide. A pioneer in the pain field, Basbaum studies the neurobiology of pain and it control. 

The UCSF community is invited to hear Basbaum’s lecture, “The Neurological Basis of Pain and Its Control,” on Tuesday, April 17, from 3:30 to 5 p.m., in Cole Hall on the UCSF Parnassus campus.

Allan Basbaum, PhD, FRS

Allan Basbaum, PhD, FRS

Following a landmark 1978 article co-written by Basbaum and UCSF's Howard Fields that provided the first insights into the neural circuits through which endogenous opioids (endorphins) can prevent pain, Basbaum went on to make extraordinarily innovative use of anatomical, behavioral, and genetic approaches to delineate the circuitry and neural substrates contributing to pain sensation and pain control.

The development of persistent pain following tissue or nerve injury results to a great extent from profound reorganization of CNS circuits. These changes contribute to a state of hyperexcitability that underlies the clinical condition of allodynia (whereby normally innocuous stimuli become painful) a hallmark of persistent pain. Basbaum’s work has defined many aspects of the central nervous system plasticity (maladaptive) that enhances the transmission of pain messages to the brain. His studies also mapped the circuits that are activated in the setting of persistent injury, and many of the molecules that can be targeted in order to treat chronic pain.

Most recently, he has turned to a revolutionary approach to treating the intractable neuropathic pains that arise from nerve injury. These studies involve transplantation of embryonic nerve cell precursors into the spinal cord of adult mice. The transplants integrate into the host tissue and reestablish the inhibitory controls that are lost following nerve injury and that underlie the persistent neuropathic pain condition.

Basbaum is a member of the W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Integrative Neuroscience at UCSF. He graduated from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and received his PhD degree from University of Pennsylvania. He did postdoctoral research at the University College London, then at UCSF, eventually joining the faculty. Basbaum is a member of the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the United Kingdom. He is presently Editor-in-Chief of Pain, the journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain.

The event will be simulcast live for those unable to attend in person. The link will be available on the Academic Senate website the week prior to the event – it will also be sent around to this [email protected] listserv.  Following the lecture, a reception will be held in the Medical Sciences Building area near the Nobel Pirze wall.

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