Our Mission
+ Translational Pain Research
Current Pain Research Studies
Our Center
Research Interests
Helpful Links & Information
  How You Can Help

Translational Pain Research


The MGH Center for Translational Pain Research is a combined clinical and preclinical research facility, which is devoted to translational research on pain mechanisms and pain management. 



Clinical Pain Research



  1. Pharmacological and interventional management of neuropathic pain (e.g., complex regional pain syndrome, postherpetic neuralgia, diabetic neuropathy, spinal stenosis, low back pain with radiculopathy, and chemotherapy-related neuropathy) 

  2. Pharmacological and interventional management of inflammatory and nociceptive pain (e.g., osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, myofascial pain, axial lower back with facet joint disease, fibromyalgia) 

  3. Opioid-induced hyperalgesia: clinical diagnosis and management

  4. Quantitative sensory testing in clinical research and practice

  5. Depression and chronic pain

  6. Alternative medicine such as acupuncture and clinical pain management



A. Chronic Pain

Neuropathic PainComplex regional pain syndrome type I & II
Postherpetic neuralgia
Diabetic neuropathy
Low back and cervical spine pain with radiculopathy (e.g., disc herniation, post-laminectomy syndrome, spinal stenosis)
Trigeminal or occipital neuralgia
Chemotherapy-related neuropathy
Inflammatory/Nociceptive Pain
Degenerative joint disease/osteoarthritis (e.g., sacroiliac joint, hip joint, knee joint, hand joints)
Rheumatoid arthritis
Myofascial pain
Low back and cervical spine pain without radiculopathy (e.g., facet joint disease, discogenic disease)
Cancer-related Pain

B. Postoperative (acute) Pain

Orthopedic surgeries (knee or hip replacement; knee or hip arthroscopic procedures)
Abdominal surgeries

C. Patients on Opioid Therapy

            Cancer pain patients (both inpatient and outpatient)
            Chronic non-malignant pain patients

D. Other Pain Patients

            Chronic pain patients with depression
            Chronic pain patients with issues of substance abuse



The Center uses conventional research tools such as questionnaires, assessment tools for cognitive function, depression inventories.  The Center is also equipped to perform quantitative sensory testing, intravenous drug infusion, and other pain management procedures.  


The Center is located at 101 Merrimac Street, Boston, about a block from the MGH main campus.  The Center occupies about 1,464 sq. ft., including two exam/study rooms, a reception area with eight seats, a conference room, and several offices.  The Center has access to the MGH central chemical lab for blood/urine tests and other medical facilities such as MRI and fMRI.

The Center currently has a staff of two MD investigators, one study coordinator/research nurse, one study nurse, one research assistant, one office manager and research volunteers.  Both MD investigators are also attending physicians at the MGH Pain Center.  The Center is currently conducting three IRB-approved clinical research projects, which are funded by NIH RO1grant and other extramural funds.

The MGH Pain Center has a large pool of patients with a variety of pain conditions from both inpatient pain service and outpatient pain clinic.  The Center also has access to a much larger pool of patients from the MGH clinical research database and the Partner’s clinical research network, which sends weekly information of 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, Partner’s Community Health Care, and MGH institute of Health Professions.




  1. Neural and molecular mechanisms of neuropathic pain, opioid tolerance and dependence, and opioid-induced hyperalgesia
  2. Interactions between the cellular mechanisms of neuropathic pain and opioid tolerance
  3. Role of endogenous cannabinoids in the modulation of neuropathic pain
  4. Role of central glucocorticoid receptors in the neural and molecular mechanisms of pain and opioid tolerance
  5. Peripheral and central mechanisms of burn injury-induced pain


The Center has a preclinical research laboratory located at the MGH East research facility.  The laboratory occupies approximately 2,000 sq. ft. and has a staff including seven post-doctoral fellows.  Preclinical research is currently funded by several NIH RO1 grants.


The laboratory employs a variety of neuroscience research tools, including behavioral and pharmacological tools, autoradiography, ELISA, HPLC, patch clamping, cell culture, siRNA technique, Western blot, in situ hybridization, real-time PCR, EMSA, etc.

back to top

  2006 : Massachusetts General Hospital : 101 Merrimac Street,
Suite 610 : Boston : MA
Privacy : Site Map
Contact: Mary Houghton (617) 726-3744 : MGHpainresearch@partners.org