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PRF Seminar – Human Spinal Cord Neuroimaging of Chronic Pain and Opioid Use

22 June 2020

PRF Webinars


Editor’s note: This is the eighth in a series of weekly PRF seminars to help keep the pain research community connected during the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide all members of our community with virtual educational opportunities. The seminar series is supporter by the Center for Advanced Pain Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, US.


The IASP Pain Research Forum hosted a seminar with Katherine Martucci, PhD, Duke University, US, on Monday, June 22, 2020. A Q&A session moderated by Kenneth Weber II, DC, PhD, Stanford University, US, followed the presentations.

  • Katherine Martucci, Duke University, US
  • Kenneth Weber II, Stanford University, US




A recording of this seminar will soon be freely available to IASP members at the IASP Pain Education Resource Center (PERC).


Here is an abstract from Dr. Martucci

The spinal cord is a frontier of complex circuitry and mechanisms that are involved in pain processing and modulation. Both healthy and altered (i.e., chronic pain) states of spinal cord activity have been extensively, but far from completely, studied using in vitro and in vivo preclinical models of chronic pain. However, the direct study of spinal cord activity in humans has historically remained much more challenging. Fortunately, recent advances in neuroimaging technology and analysis have now made it possible to study spinal cord activity in chronic pain patients and healthy volunteers, using noninvasive functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In this seminar, we will discuss recent and ongoing research on 1) human spinal cord activity related to pain and sensory processing, 2) changes in spinal cord activity in individuals with chronic pain, and 3) the effect of opioid use on spinal cord activity in individuals with chronic pain.


About the presenter

Katherine Martucci, PhD, is an assistant professor at Duke University, US. She is director of the Human Affect and Pain Neuroscience Laboratory (HAPNL), which uses neuroimaging, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain and cervical spinal cord, as well as sensory, behavioral, and psychological tests to study acute and chronic pain in humans. Dr. Martucci obtained her PhD in neurobiology at Wake Forest School of Medicine where she studied basic pain mechanisms in healthy human volunteers using pain psychophysical testing and neuroimaging. She then completed postdoctoral training, with a clinical research focus of chronic pain neuroimaging, and was awarded an NIH K99 fellowship at Stanford University. In 2018 Dr. Martucci joined the faculty at Duke University as part of the Center for Translational Pain Medicine. She was awarded an NIH R00 grant to conduct the first longitudinal neuroimaging clinical research study of how opioid medications affect brain and spinal cord activity in individuals with chronic pain. Dr. Martucci actively serves on the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) 2020 Global Year Task Force for the Prevention of Pain.


About the moderator

Kenneth Weber, DC, PhD, is an instructor in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine at Stanford University, US. Dr. Weber is trained clinically as a chiropractor and completed a PhD in neuroscience at Northwestern University. His research focuses on developing quantitative MRI-based brain and spinal cord measures of pain and sensorimotor function. Recently, he received a K23 Career Development Award from the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the NIH to discover neuroprognostic MRI-based biomarkers in people with cervical radiculopathy.


Join the conversation about the seminar on Twitter @PainResForum #PRFSeminar


We thank the Center for Advanced Pain Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, US, for its support of the PRF seminar series.


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