Trainees at North American Pain School Learn Where it Hurts and Why

Jul 13, 2017

The second North American Pain School (NAPS) took place June 25-29 in Montebello, Québec City, Canada. An educational initiative of IASP and the Analgesic, Anesthetic, and Addiction Clinical Trial Translations, Innovations, Opportunities, and Networks (ACTTION), presented by the Quebec Pain Research Network (QPRN) and supported by Grunenthal, Eli Lilly Canada and the Canadian Chronic Pain Network SPOR, NAPS brings together pain research experts to provide young investigators with a unique educational and networking experience.

Thirty trainees, primarily graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from the United States and Canada, were selected to attend the school. The trainees listened to talks from visiting and permanent faculty members—all internationally recognized leaders in pain research from across the world—participated in professional development workshops, presented their own research, and made connections with their peers.

The theme of this year’s NAPS was “Where Does it Hurt and Why: Peripheral and Central Contributions to Pain Throughout the Body.” Presenting their talks from that perspective, visiting faculty members delivered presentations on ways to develop better analgesics, central nervous system contributors to fibromyalgia, psychosocial influences on chronic pain, arthritis pain, nociceptor function, and migraine.

NAPS also included workshops on interviewing and diagnosing pain patients, mentorship, preclinical pain measurement, job negotiation skills, pain and sensory testing in humans, knowledge translation, and ways to deliver better presentations. Of particular note was the incorporation into the program of two patients who spoke of their experience living with chronic pain.

Two debates among the trainees also highlighted the program. In the first, trainees debated whether the biological mechanisms of and optimal treatments for pain depend on the location of that pain. In the second, they argued pro or con over whether the fundamental pathophysiology of chronic pain is in the central nervous system.

Written reports covering the debates and the talks presented by the visiting faculty members will be provided by six trainees selected to participate in the PRF-NAPS Correspondents program. This partnership between Pain Research Forum and NAPS provides a unique training experience to help interested trainees develop their science communication and writing skills, as well as their use of social media. The correspondents’ contributions will be published in the ensuing months on PRF and on RELIEF, a new site for those interested in learning more about chronic pain research, including patients and the general public.