Project Title: Changes in epigenetic mechanisms and symptom clusters associated with the resolution of persistent pain following spinal cord stimulation
Kimberly Stephens, MPH, PhD is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics/Division of Center for Applied Research and Evaluation in the UAMS College of Medicine. Dr. Stephens’s research is focused on understanding how epigenetic mechanisms contribute to the development, maintenance and resolution of chronic pain.
Chronic pain is a significant clinical and public health problem which is associated with adverse health outcomes such as decreased quality of life, altered mood and sleep patterns, and disability. Neuromodulation has emerged as a minimally invasive therapy effective for the treatment of refractory neuropathic pain conditions. The chronic pain patient population who seeks neuromodulation treatment is complex and constitutes a previously unstudied clinical model to study the resolution of chronic pain. We will be inviting patients seeking treatment at the UAMS Pain Treatment Center to participate.
We anticipate that our findings will provide a comprehensive assessment of how the epigenome changes following the resolution of persistent pain and how these changes impact gene expression upon resolution of pain. Therefore, we may improve our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie analgesia in long-standing pain. Ultimately, our findings may facilitate reductions in opioid use in chronic pain by identifying patients who may benefit from opioid sparing treatments like neuromodulation thereby improving long-term outcomes for complex chronic pain patients.
Dr. Stephens joined the UAMS faculty in 2019 after completing her postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University. She received her PhD at the University of California, San Francisco after working for several years as a Registered Nurse in critical care.
Johnathan Goree, MD, Director of Chronic Pain Division and Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, College of Medicine, UAMS
W. Brooks Gentry, MD, Professor, Department of Anesthesiology and the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, UAMS
Alan Tackett, PhD, Scharlau Family Endowed Chair for Cancer Research; Associate Director for Basic research, Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute; Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, College of Medicine, UAMS