Adult & Pediatric
Pain Lab at Stanford  


Research Focus

The goal of the Adult and Pediatric Pain Lab at Stanford is to better understand chronic pain, and to develop new and better treatments for controlling pain. We work with both adults and children, and use a variety of research approaches, including neuroimaging and pharmaceutical, to better understand pain.

Current Projects

Effects of opioids on the human brain

In this large project funded by the National Institute for Drug Abuse, we are using neuroimaging scans to assess how prescription opioid analgesics change the human brain. We are scanning both individuals who are starting to take opioids for pain, and individuals who are stopping their opioid use. We hope to develop ways for predicting who is at risk of becoming addicted to opioids, as well as those who are at risk of other adverse side-effects.
More details about this study can be found here.

Daily immune monitoring in men with Gulf War Illness and Fibromyalgia

In this project, funded by the Department of Defense, we are taking daily blood samples and symptom reports to identify biomarkers for Gulf War Illness, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue syndrome.

We are currently recruiting males who served in the first Gulf War in 1991 – for more information please click here.

We are currently recruiting males with Fibromyalgia and/or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – for more information please click here.

Daily immune monitoring of pain and fatigue in women

This project, funded by the Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation, and Infection (ITI), is designed to identify novel predictors of daily fluctuations in pain and fatigue. Chronic pain and fatigue often vary from day to day. By measuring immune measures daily, we hope to identify specific biomarkers for bad days. The data may allow us to develop blood tests for conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, and may even allow us to identify new targets for effective therapies.

Low-dose naltrexone in Fibromyalgia and Gulf War Illness

We are studying the effectiveness of low dose naltrexone (LDN), in treating chronic multisymptom illnesses. We believe the drug may work by suppressing the activity of microglia in the brain and spinal cord, preventing the release of inflammatory cytokines. We have completed a second study on LDN for fibromyalgia, and are preparing the manuscript for that study. Our work is funded by the American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association, and private gifts.

Predicting placebo and nocebo effects

Placebo and nocebo effects (patients feeling better or worse for reasons other than the effects of the drug) make clinical trials difficult to conduct, and results difficult to interpret. We are developing, with Dr. Sean Mackey of the SNAPL lab, a tool that can predict these effects before they occur. We hope that such a scale will allow clinical trials of all sorts (medicine, surgery, psychotherapy) to be conducted more accurately, and with a lower cost.


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