Meet Your Speakers

Distinguished Speakers 2024

Ram Arudchandran, PhD

Program Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Division of Translational Research - Biomarkers

Presentation: Identification of Biomarkers and Biomarker Patterns to Enhance Pain Therapeutics Advancement

Bio: In his two-decade career within the pharmaceutical industry and government, including roles at the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Ram has overseen diverse biomedical research projects encompassing basic, clinical, applied, and product-oriented studies. Throughout his professional career, Ram has spearheaded interdisciplinary research teams focused on biomarker development, drug discovery, and product development. Presently, he serves as the Program Director of the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-Term) Biomarker Program at NINDS (The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke), where he oversees both NINDS and HEAL pain biomarker research portfolios.

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Nassib Chamoun, PhD

Founder, President & CEO, Health Data Analytics Institute

Committee Member, Beth Israel Lahey Health

Member, Board of Trustees, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham

Presentation: How clinicians can leverage AI for proactive pain triage

Bio: Nassib Chamoun is founder and CEO of Boston-based Health Data Analytics Institute (HDAI), a care optimization and provider enablement company powered by access to Medicare’s full dataset, machine learning, generative AI, predictive analytics, point of care technology and advisory services. Chamoun is a serial healthcare entrepreneur, researcher, and inventor who, as founder and CEO of Aspect Medical Systems, developed and commercialized the BIS™ technology, a global standard for anesthetic effect monitoring. Chamoun earned his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University and his Master of Science in Computer Engineering from Boston University.

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Jianguo Cheng, MD, PhD

Professor and Director, Pain Management Department, Cleveland Clinic Main


Presentation: State-of-the-Art Neuromodulation for Pain Management

Bio: Dr. Cheng, Professor of Anesthesiology, is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Multidisciplinary Pain Medicine Fellowship Program and Medical Director of the Cleveland Clinic Consortium for Pain (C3P). His clinical expertise, recognized by Best Doctors, Top Doctors in America, and 70 Best Pain Management Physicians in the US, focuses on novel therapeutic strategies to effectively treat complex pain conditions. His research focuses on understanding the neuroimmune mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain, developing novel therapeutics and multimodal biomarkers for chronic pain and opioid tolerance, and advancing pain care through new technologies in neuromodulation, electrophysiology, and sensorimotor integration in the spinal cord.

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Kathleen Derwin, PhD

Department Vice Chair and Associate Staff, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute and Orthopedic Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Main Campus; Director, Musculoskeletal Research Center, Cleveland Clinic; Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University; Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Cleveland State University

Presentation: Biomarkers of joint pain in osteoarthritis

Bio: My research program focuses on identifying demographic, disease, and surgical factors, as well as local biologic factors such as stem and progenitor cell characteristics, pain and inflammatory biomarkers, which influence healing and clinical outcomes following rotator cuff repair. Our aim is modification of key factors, either pre-operatively or through surgical treatment, leading to better clinical decision making, patient selection and improved outcomes.

Charles Djordjevic, PhD

Editor, Journal of Nursing Philosophy; Adjunct Professor, Lorain County Community College; Cardiovascular Surgical Nurse, Cleveland Clinic

Presentation: Personalized Medicine and Pain-Testimony: A broadly Bayesian approach to making sense of pain recognition

Bio: Dr. Djordjevic is a PhD philosopher and a BSN nurse. His major focus is on pain and intersubjectivity. He is currently working on several projects focused on pain-assessment including an attempt to harmonize neuroscientific research into predictive coding with Bayesian social epistemology.

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Raghavan Gopalakrishnan, PhD

Associate Staff, Center for Neuro-Restoration, Cleveland Clinic Main Campus

Presentation: Neurophysiology of pain affect in chronic pain patients

Bio: Our focus is on applying computational psychophysiology to study brain and behavior underlying chronic pain with the aim of improving diagnosis and developing non-addictive long term treatment solutions. We specifically use computational model-driven Magnetoencephalography (MEG) approach to unveil dynamic trends in polyrhythmic brain activity underlying latent behaviors such as fear and avoidance that inadvertently exacerbate pain and suffering.

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Salim Hayek, MD, PhD

Chief, Division of Pain Medicine/ Department of Anesthesiology, University Hospitals; Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine

Presentation: Intrathecal drug delivery

Bio: A large bulk of my research has been focused on controlling chronic pain through various interventional pain medicine approaches, particularly neuromodulation. The focus of my research is on intrathecal drug delivery. I have led a number of studies and participated in many trials including NIH sponsored studies, currently site PI on three NIH sponsored trials. I am a Past President of the North American Neuromodulation Society (NANS) and have led many initiatives have been involved in development of guidelines for safe and effective applications of neuromodulation interventions. 

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Smriti Iyengar, PhD

Program Director, Preclinical Screening Platform for Pain

Division of Translational Research

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke / National Institutes of Health; NIH HEAL Initiative 

Presentation:  (Translational Research)

Bio: Smriti Iyengar, Ph.D., is a Program Director in the Division of Translational Research, NINDS. She leads the Preclinical Screening Platform for Pain.  She is a neuroscientist with extensive research and drug development experience focused on neuro-disorders including pain and headache. She was formerly at Eli Lilly and Company, G.D. Searle and Company and Schering-Plough Inc. and is an adjunct Senior Research Professor the Department of Anesthesia, Indiana University School of Medicine.  Her drug discovery expertise includes target, lead and clinical candidate identification and characterization as well as translational and clinical development, regulatory strategy, launch and commercialization.  She played a key role in the development of duloxetine for pain and depression and has made significant contributions to >20 clinical candidates across a range of neuroscience targets, including CGRP and 5HT1F. She has served as a member of several  permanent and ad-hoc national and international committees established to evaluate research issues and to accelerate translational medicine in the area of pain, including ACTTION, IMI Europain, IMMPACT, TI Pharma translational pharmacology pain consortium and the Imaging consortium for drug development,  as well as a member of  several grant committees and cross functional strategy committees in neuroscience and pain. She is a Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

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Michael Jenkins, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University; 

Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University 

Investigator, Cleveland FES Center

Area of Study: Ocular Pain



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Audrey Kusiak, PhD

Scientific Program Manager, Spinal Cord Injuries/Disorders & Neuropathic Pain and Regenerative Rehabilitation Programs, Veterans Administration, Office of Research & Development 

Area of Study: Pain and Opioid Use Actively Managed Portfolio

Bio: Audrey Kusiak, PhD, is a Scientific Program Manager in the Rehabilitation Research and Development Service.  She received her doctoral degree in Neuroscience from the College of Medicine at the University of Florida and completed postdoctoral work in the at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry at Martinsried, Germany. She became an Intramural Research Training Award Fellow at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) in Baltimore, Maryland, and then a Research Scientist at the NIA. Prior to her current position, Dr. Kusiak was the Acting Director of the Defense Spinal Cord and Column Injury Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and a Program Analyst in the Repair and Plasticity Cluster at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. She represents VA ORD on theDepartment of Defense Congressional Directed Medical Research Program Chronic Pain Management Program, is a member of the NIH/DoD/VA Pain Management Collaboratory Executive Committee, and is the Team Leader for the ORD Pain and Opioid Use Actively Managed Portfolio.

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Robert Kirsch, PhD

Allen H. and Constance T. Ford Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering, School of Medicine, School of Engineering, Case Western Reserve University; Executive Director, Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Center; Biomedical Engineer, Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center

Presentation: Welcome to the Cleveland Pain Symposium 

Bio: Dr. Robert F. Kirsch, Ph.D. is the Allen H. and Constance T. Ford Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University and the Executive Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service “Center for Functional Electrical Stimulation”. He is the Principal Investigator of the Case-Coulter Translational Research partnership, a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), the Chair of the national BME Council of Chairs (2017), the Director of a NIBIB T32 training grant, and a member of advisory boards for a number of biomedical engineering departments, research centers, and training grants across the US and internationally. His research focuses on the restoration of arm movements to individuals with complete paralysis of arm muscles due to spinal cord injury or other neurological disorders using FES and high performance user command interfaces. He received a BS in electrical engineering (University of Cincinnati) and the MS and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering (Northwestern University), and completed post-doctoral research (McGill University).

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Steven Lewis, PhD

Professor, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University; Professor, Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University; Executive Committee Member & Investigator, Cleveland FES Center

Presentation: Role of the CSC-SCG complex in the analgesic actions of fentanyl in conscious Sprague-Dawley rats

Bio: One objective of my laboratory is to determine the role of the autonomic nervous system in mediating the pharmacological actions of opioids such as fentanyl. These studies employ in vivo physiological/pharmacological/electrophysiological methods as well as molecular biological approaches to determine the processes by which opioids interact with autonomic nerves. Our studies are showing that the cervical sympathetic chain (CSC)-superior cervical ganglion (SCG) complex plays a vital role in the expression of opioid analgesia and dependence.

Matthew McDonald

Director, R&D, Discovery, Data and Design, Boston Scientific

Presentation: Wholistic and personalized care with chronic pain therapies

Bio: Matt McDonald is the R&D director of Discovery: Data and Design for the Boston Scientific neuromodulation division based in Valencia, California. In Matt’s nearly 20-year career, he’s been engineering, designing, and planning products with elegant design at the forefront of his thinking. He leads a team advancing chronic pain care by taking a more holistic approach through wearables and apps.

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Brian Meshkin, PhD

Executive Chairman, Outcomeus, Inc.

Executive Chairman, Proove Genomics, Inc; 

Managing Partner, Profound Ventures LLC

Presentation: Precision Pain Management to Help Address the Dueling Public Health Crises of Chronic Pain & Opioid Overdose

Bio: Brian Meshkin is an award-winning entrepreneur and executive who founded an Inc. 500/Deloitte Technology Fast500 molecular diagnostics and outcomes research company which has created the world’s largest clinical-genetic biobank of over 153,000 patients with 28 billion clinical outcome datapoints.  Brian is a published researcher in the field of personalized pain management who has been the keynote speaker on the use of biomarkers, personalized medicine and big data to address opioid abuse and chronic pain at the National Institutes of Drug Abuse’s Annual Richard Denisco Seminar, the Canadian Consensus Conference on Pain Biomarkers, and a speaker at other pain society meetings.  As a social entrepreneur, Brian has been an activist successfully lobbying for the enactment of laws across the nation to prevent childhood injuries, served as an elected official, worked in innovation and corporate venture capital roles at Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly, and volunteered to help start, serve as a Board member, or event chairman for various non-profits including Safe Kids Worldwide, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), the Personalized Medicine Coalition, the Orange County Prescription Abuse Prevention Coalition (OCPAPC), and more.

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Michael Moffitt, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University; Investigator, Cleveland FES Center

Area of Study: Photo-Biomodulation

Presentation: Opportunities to treat pain with selective inhibition by photobiomodulation

Bio: Mike is an alumnus of CWRU BME and following his graduate work spent 18.5 years in the medical device industry working on spinal cord stimulation and deep brain stimulation.  Following a 3.5 year period with one foot in each of industry and academia, Mike recently returned to CWRU 100% time as a research professor to focus on therapeutic opportunities using light, a field referred to as photobiomodulation, and his initial efforts are in the treatment of pain.

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D. P. Mohaptra, PhD

Program Director, Systems & Cognitive Neuroscience, Division of Neuroscience

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke / National Institutes of Health

Presentation: Understanding Human Pain for Personalized Pain Management, Through NIH HEAL Initiative Programs and Opportunities: From Human Pain Genes and Cells to Individual Differences in Human Pain

Bio: Dr. DP Mohapatra leads and manages several programs in NIH HEAL Initiative, such as PRECISION Human Pain Network, Integrated Basic & Clinical Team Science in Pain, and Understanding Individual Differences in Human Pain Conditions and Comorbidities, as well as a large portfolio of grants in Mechanistic Translational Pain Research, and Itch, Peripheral Somatosensation, Glia & Neuroimmune Biology at NINDS. Prior to joining NINDS in 2019, Dr. Mohapatra was a tenured Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. By training and for his independent research programs he has done extensive research in basic and translational pain research.

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J. Michael Oakes, PhD

Senior Vice President for Research and Technology Management at Case Western Reserve University

Bio: Michael Oakes was named Case Western Reserve University’s inaugural senior vice president for research and technology management in July 2021. He oversees all aspects of CWRU's $550+m research and technology transfer program, including the University’s forthcoming $300m Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building and technology start-up incubator building. Oakes is the Veale Professor of Technology Transfer and Commercialization Chair and a tenured Professor of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences in the School of Medicine. He established and directs Northeast Ohio’s NSF-supported ‘Sustainable Manufacturing’ Engine’s initiative. Prior to joining CWRU, Oakes served as the University of Minnesota’s interim vice president for research, leading their $1.2B research enterprise. From 2019 to 2021, Oakes served as associate vice president for research, shepherding a 31% increase in research funding fueled by COVID-19 related grants. Dr. Oakes is also founder and former Executive Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Research Leaders. Oakes is an applied statistician and social epidemiologist whose research has been highly collaborative, interdisciplinary, and focused on research methods, social epidemiology, and research ethics. He has published over 150 scientific papers and co-authored the leading textbook in his area.

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Christopher Pulliam, PhD

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University

Biomedical Engineer, Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center

Bioscientific Staff, MetroHealth Center for Rehabilitation Research

Presentation: Advancing Neuromodulation Through Wearable Measures and Machine Learning

Bio: Dr. Christopher Pulliam is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, specializing in novel treatments and functional assessments for neurological and neuromuscular disorders. Prior to his academic appointment, he held various roles in the medical device industry developing remote monitoring and neuromodulation technologies.

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Richard Rammo, MD

Neurosurgeon, Center for Neuro-Restoration, Cleveland Clinic

Presentation: Neuromodulation in Pain

Bio: Richard Rammo completed his residency in neurological surgery and fellowship training in Stereotacic & Functional Neurosurgery, and another fellowship in epilepsy surgery. His clinical interests are in neuromodulation of the brain and spinal cord for various pathologies. The focus of his research is to advance the treatment of medically intractable epilepsy through evaluation of cortico-thalamic connectivity and developing a patient-specific neuromodulation implantation plan based on their epileptogenic focus and seizure network.

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Maria Rosén Klement, PhD

CREATE Health, Research coordinator,  Faculty of Engineering, Lund University, Sweden; Founder, Paindrainer AB app

Presentation: An FDA registered digital therapeutic platform for self management of chronic pain

Bio: Maria Rosén Klement, PhD, is a one of the founder and inventor of Paindrainer. Leveraging her research expertise in biochemistry and protein fold prediction from Stockholm University, along with cardiovascular research from Karolinska Institutet, Maria initiated the developed Paindrainer. Maria, who personally experiences chronic pain, conceived the idea while grappling with the adjustments following an injury. Meeting others enduring similar challenges further reinforced her recognition of the need for improved self-management of pain. Main research interest, improve self-management of pain though digital tools and real world evidence.

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Jeff Rogers, PhD

Global Research Leader-Digital Health, Distinguished Research Staff Member and Senior Manager, IBM; Manager-cognitive IoT health Systems, Thomas J Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY

Presentation: Digital Biomarkers 


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Carl Saab, PhD

Founder & Director, Cleveland Clinic Consortium for Pain at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute; Investigator, Cleveland FES Center

Presentation: Symposium Wrap-Up Discussion 

Bio: Carl Saab is Founder and Scientific Director of the Cleveland Clinic Consortium for Pain, and the Director of the Pain Science Technology and Research (STAR) Lab, whose mission is to foster collaboration between clinicians and researchers to develop, test and validate novel technologies and methods to diagnose and treat chronic pain. A neuroscientist with post-doctoral training from Yale followed by 16 years as a faculty member at Brown University, Saab is currently a professor of biomedical engineering at Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University. Saab's lab studies neural circuits of mental health and neurological disorders in the brain. His research led to the discovery of neural signatures that can be used to measure pain and analgesic efficacy, and the founding of two start-ups developing pre-clinical and translational biomarker products in neurology. 

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Rony Sayegh, MD

Staff Ophthalmologist, Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute

Adjunct Faculty, Quantitative Health Sciences in the Lerner Research Institute 

Clinical Associate Professor, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine

Presentation: Chronic Ocular Pain

Bio: Dr. Sayegh is a cornea specialist and an expert in ocular surface diseases and surgeries. His research focuses on dry eye and ocular neuropathic pain, and is funded by the HEAL initiative of the NIH. He was the first to describe neuromodulation techniques for the treatment of chronic ocular pain, and continues to work on developing better ways of diagnosing, preventing, and treating dry eye and ocular neuropathic pain. 

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Jon Sprague, PhD

Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Eminent Scholar 

Director of Science and Research, Ohio Attorney General’s Office

Attorney General Yost’s SCOPE Team: Scientific Committee on Opioid Prevention & Education

Presentation: Ohio’s Opioid crisis updates from the street to bedside

Bio: Dr. Sprague’s research and teaching interests include the neurobiology of addiction and the pharmacology and toxicology of drugs of abuse. Dr. Sprague was also instrumental in writing the synthetic drug laws for the State of Ohio. These laws have focused on the synthetic cathinones, cannabinoids, benzodiazepines and opioids.

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Gustaf Van Acker, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at MetroHealth System and Case Western Reserve University 

Presentation: Peripheral nerve stimulation for knee pain post TKA

Bio: I am an Assistant Professor and Board Certified Pain Management and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Physician-Scientist, with a research emphasis on interventional and minimally-invasive neuromodulation techniques for pain management. 

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Elias Veizi, MD, PhD

Chief, Pain Medicine Service Line, North East Ohio VA Healthcare System; Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, Case Western Reserve University

Area of Study: Spinal Cord Stimulation

Presentation: In search of prognostic markers of spinal cord stimulation: from complex PROs to neuroimaging 

Bio: Elias Veizi, MD, PhD, is Chief of the Pain Medicine Service Line at Northeast Ohio VA Health Care System & associate professor with the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Veizi is an investigator with the Cleveland FES Center and his research interests include neuropathic and intractable pain of somatic and visceral origin, the development of new technologies in drug delivery and improving effectiveness of neuromodulation through analysis of functional outcomes captured by PROs and/or wearable devices and neuroimaging.

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Douglas Weber, PhD

Akhtar and Bhutta Endowed Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Neuroscience Institute, Carnegie Mellon University; Faculty, NeuroMechatronics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University

Area of Study: Spinal Cord Stimulation

Presentation: Frequency-dependent attenuation of Aβ recruitment during tonic stimulation of the dorsal root ganglion in rat

Bio: Douglas Weber co-directs the NeuroMechatronics Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University. His general research area is Neural Engineering, including fundamental studies of neural coding and feedback control in sensorimotor systems, as well as more applied research into brain-computer interfaces and neurostimulation for pain management and neurorehabilitation. He is a co-founder and Chief Technology Officer for Reach Neuro, Inc., a Pittsburgh based startup developing a novel neuromodulation treatment for chronic hemiparesis post-stroke.

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Jada Wiggleton-Little, PhD

Neuroethics Fellow, Cleveland Clinic Main Campus; Assistant Professor of Philosophy at The Ohio State University (August 2024)

Presentation: Personalized Pain Management: Balancing Objective and Subjective Values of Pain

Bio: Jada Wiggleton-Little, PhD is a Neuroethics Fellow at Cleveland Clinic and an incoming Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Ohio State (starting August 2024). Her areas of speciality include philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and bioethics. Her research is centered on pain communication, particularly in the context of racial and gender disparities in pain management. 

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Jijun Xu, MD, PhD

Department of Pain Management, Neurological Institute, Cleveland Clinic

Department of Inflammation and Immunity, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University 

Presentation: Spinal Cord Stimulation for Refractory Painful Diabetic Neuropathy

Bio: Jijun Xu, MD, PhD is a physician-scientist and an Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University. He has been an investigator or co-investigator for more than a dozen clinical trials. Funded by NIH and numerous professional organizations, his research focuses on understanding mechanisms and developing multidisciplinary approaches to treat a variety of chronic pain conditions. 

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