Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine - Pain and Neurosciences Research
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Research Overview

Critical Care Research

Pain and Neurosciences Research

Biomedical Innovation

Ethics and Health Policy

Clinical Research

Grant Funding


Translational Pain Research

Summary Science Features

Learn more about our work.

Research Facility and Staff

Clinical Research

The clinical part of the Center is located at 101 Merrimac Street, Boston, about a block from the Mass General main hospital. The Center has about 2,000 ft2, including three exam/study rooms, a reception area with eight seats, a conference room, and four offices. The Center has access to the Mass General central chemical lab for blood/urine tests and to other medical facilities such as MRI and fMRI.

The Center has MD investigators, study coordinators/office managers, study nurses, and research assistants. MD investigators are also attending physicians at the MGH Pain Center. The Mass General Pain Center has a large patient pool with a variety of pain conditions from both inpatient pain service and outpatient pain clinic. The Center also has access to a much larger patient pool from the Mass General clinical research patient database and to the Partners clinical research network that sends weekly information about research subject recruitment to Partner?s Healthcare-affiliated hospitals, including the Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women?s Hospital, Faulkner Hospital, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, McLean Hospital, North Shore Medical Center, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Partners Community Health Care, and Mass General institute of Health Professions.

Preclinical Research

The Center has a preclinical research site located at the Mass General East research facility. The preclinical research site has a space of about 2,000 square feet and a staff that includes seven post-doctoral fellows.

Research Funding

The Center is currently support by four NIH RO1 grants and several other grants from pharmaceutical companies. As one of only a few translational pain research centers in the United States, we welcome financial support from individual and/or organizational donations. Your help will enable our Center to pioneer new therapies in the treatment of intractable pain conditions. Your tax-deductible contribution will permit the Center to perform its important work.

Selected Publications

Preclinical Areas:

  • Mao J, Price DD, Mayer DJ, Lu J, Hayes RL. Intrathecal MK 801 and local nerve anesthesia synergistically reduce nociceptive behaviors in rats with experimental peripheral mononeuropathy. Brain Res 1992;576:254-262.
  • Mao J, Price DD, Hayes RL, Mayer DJ. Spatial patterns of increased spinal cord membrane-bound protein kinase C and their relation to increases in neural activity in rats with painful peripheral mononeuropathy. J Neurophysiol 1993;70:470-481.
  • Mao J, Mayer DJ, Price DD. Patterns of increased brain activity indicative of pain in a rat model of peripheral mononeuropathy. J Neurosci 1993;13:2689-2702.
  • Mao J, Price DD, Hayes RL, Lu J, Mayer DJ, Frenk H. Intrathecal treatment with dextrorphan and ketamine potently reduce pain-related behaviors in a rat model of painful peripheral mononeuropathy. Brain Res 1993;605:163-168.
  • Mao J, Price DD, Mayer DJ. Thermal hyperalgesia in association with the development of morphine tolerance: roles of excitatory amino acid receptors and protein kinase C. J Neurosci 1994; 14:2301-2312.
  • Mao J, Price DD, Mayer DJ. Experimental mononeuropathy reduces the antinociceptive effects of morphine: implications for common intracellular mechanisms involved in morphine tolerance and neuropathic pain. Pain 1995;61:353-364 (with editorial).
  • Mao J, Price DD, Mayer DJ. Mechanisms of hyperalgesia and morphine tolerance: A current view of their possible interactions. Pain 1995; 62:259-274.
  • Mao J, Price DD, Zhu J, Lu J, Mayer DJ. The inhibition of nitric oxide-activated poly(ADP-ribose) synthetase attenuates transsynaptic alteration of spinal cord dorsal horn neurons and neuropathic pain in the rat. Pain 1997;72:355-366.
  • Mayer DJ, Mao J, Holt J, Price DD. Cellular mechanisms of neuropathic pain, morphine tolerance, and their interactions, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 1999; 96:7731-7736.
  • Mao J. NMDA and opioid receptors: their interactions in antinociception, tolerance, and neuroplasticity, Brain Res Rev 1999; 30:289-304.
  • Mao J, Mayer DJ. Spinal cord neuroplasticity following repeated opioid exposure and its relation to pathological pain, Ann NY Acad Sci 2001; 933:175-184.
  • Mao J, Sung B, Ji RR, Lim G. Chronic morphine induces down-regulation of spinal glutamate transporters: implications in morphine tolerance and abnormal pain sensitivity, J Neurosci 2002; 22:8312-8323.
  • Mao J, Sung B, Ji RR, Lim G.  Neuronal apoptosis associated with morphine tolerance: evidence for an opioid-induced neurotoxic mechanism, J Neurosci 2002; 22: 7650-7661.
  • Sung B, Lim G, Mao J: Altered expression and uptake activity of spinal glutamate transporters following peripheral nerve injury contributes to the pathogenesis of neuropathic pain in rats. J Neurosci 2003; 23:2899-2910.
  • Wang S, Lim G, Zeng Q, Yang L, Sung B, Mao J. Expression of spinal glucocorticoid receptors following peripheral nerve injury contributes to neuropathic pain behaviors in rats. J Neurosci 2004; 24:8595-8605.
  • Wang S, Lim G, Zeng Q, Yang L, Sung B, Mao J. Neuronal glucocorticoid receptors modulate the expression and function of spinal NMDA receptors after peripheral nerve injury. J Neurosci 2005; 25:488-495.
  • Lim G, Wang S, Zeng Q, Sung B, Mao J: Central glucocorticoid receptors contribute to the mechanisms of morphine tolerance. Anesthesiology 2005; 102:832-837.
  • Lim G, Wang S, Zeng Q, Sung B, Mao J: Evidence for a long-term influence of previous morphine exposure on morphine tolerance: a role of central glucocorticoid receptors. Pain 2005; 114: 81-92 (with Editorial).
  • Lim G, Wang S, Zeng Q, Sung B, Yang L, Mao J. Expression of spinal NMDA receptor and PKCg after chronic morphine is regulated by spinal glucocorticoid receptors. J Neurosci 2005; 25:11145-11154.
  • Wang S, Lim G, Yang L, Sung B, Mao J. Downregulation of spinal glutamate transporter EAAC1 following nerve injury is regulated by central glucocorticoid receptors in rats. Pain 2006; 120:78-85.
  • Sung B, Wang S, Zhou B, Lim G, Yang L, Zeng Q, Lim JA, Mao J. Altered spinal arachidonic acid turnover after peripheral nerve injury regulates regional glutamate homeostasis and neuropathic pain behaviors in rats. Pain, 2007; 131:121-131.
  • Wang S, Lim G, Mao J, Sung B, Yang L, Mao J. Central glucocorticoid receptors regulate the upregulation of spinal cannabinoid receptors after peripheral nerve injury in rats. Pain, 2007; 131:96-105.
  • Gu X, Wang S, Yang L, Sung B, Lim G, Mao J, Zeng Q, Chang Y, Mao J. Time-dependent effect of epidural steroid on pain behavior induced by chronic compression of dorsal root ganglion in rats. Brain Res 2007; 1174:39-46.
  • Gu X, Wang S, Yang L, Sung B, Lim G, Mao J, Zeng Q, Chang Y, Mao J. A rat model of radicular pain induced by chronic compression of dorsal root ganglion in rats. Anesthesiology 2008; 108: 113-121 (with editorial)

Clinical Areas:

  • Price DD, Mao J, Frenk H, Mayer DJ. The N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist dextromethorphan selectively reduces the temporal summation of the second pain in man. Pain, 1994; 59:165-174 (with editorial).
  • Mao J, Chen L. Systemic lidocaine for neuropathic pain relief: a critical review, Pain 2000; 87:7-17.
  • Mao J, Chen L. Gabapentin in pain management 2000; Anesth & Analg, 91:680-687.
  • Mao J. Translational pain research: bridging the gap between basic and clinical research, Pain, 2002; 97:183-187.
  • Mao J. Opioid-induced abnormal pain sensitivity: Implications in clinical opioid therapy. Pain, 2002; 100:213-217.
  • Ballantyne J, Mao J. Opioid therapy for chronic pain. New Eng J Med, 2003; 349:1943-1953.
  • Hord ED, Stojanovic MP, Vallejo R, Barna SA, Santoego-Palma J, Mao J: Multiple Bier blocks with labetalol for complex regional pain syndrome refractory to other treatments. J Pain Sympt Manage 2003; 25:299-302.
  • Cohen S, Mao J: Is the analgesic effect of systemic lidocaine mediated through opioid receptors? Acta Anaesthesiol Scan 2003; 47:910-911.
    Cohen S, Chang AS, Larkin T, Mao J: The IV Ketamine Test: A predictive response tool for oral dextromethorphan treatment in neuropathic pain. Anesth Analg 2004; 99:1753-1759.
  • Mao J. NMDA receptor and pain management. Int J Pain Med & Palliative Care, 2005, 3:101-104.
  • Mao J. Central glucocorticoid receptor: a new role in the cellular mechanisms of neuropathic pain, Rev Neurosci, 2005, 16:233-238.
  • Mao J. Opioid therapy and opioid-induced pain: implications in headache treatment. Current Pain and Headache Reports, 2006, 10:67-70.
  • Cohen S, Larkin T, Mao J. The IV ketamine test predicts subsequent response to an oral dextromethorphan treatment regimen in fibromyalgia patients ? A clinical trial. J Pain, 2006; 7:391-398.
  • Mao J. Opioid tolerance, dependence, and opioid-induced hyperalgesia. Psychiatric Annals, 2006; 36:398-403.
  • Chang G., Chen, L. Mao J. Role of opioid tolerance and opioid-induced pain sensitivity in clinical opioid use. Medical Clinics of North America 2007; 91:199-211.


  • Mao J (Editor): Translational Pain Research, Volume I, Nova Sciences Publishers, New York; 2006.
  • Mao J (Editor); Translational Pain Research, Volume II, Nova Sciences Publishers, New York; 2006.

Office Information

Department of Anesthesia,
Critical Care and Pain Medicine
Gray-Bigelow 444
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114

Public Transportation Access: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes