May 22, 2012
Media contact: Bob Shepard
UAB named one of 11 National Centers of Excellence in Pain Education
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., - The University of Alabama at Birmingham
(UAB) has been named one of eleven Centers of Excellence in Pain Education by the
National Institutes of Health Pain Consortium. The UAB Center will be co-directed by Cynthia
J. Brown, MD, MSPH, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director, Geriatric Medicine Section, and Elizabeth
Kvale, MD, Assistant Professor and Medical Director, the UAB Supportive Care and Survivorship Clinic,
Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care.
The UAB program will develop and integrate pain management curriculum into existing curricula within
UAB’s Schools of Medicineand
Nursing, the Departments of
Occupationaland Physical Therapy
within the School of Health Professions, Samford University’s
Schools of Pharmacyand
Nursingand the Auburn University School of Pharmacy. The UAB curriculum will particularly focus on vulnerable populations including persons with multiple
illnesses, dementia, HIV and cancer.
The eleven centers will act as hubs for the development, evaluation and distribution of pain management
curriculum resources for medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy schools to enhance and improve how health
care professionals are taught about pain and its treatment throughout the nation.
“Virtually all health professionals are called upon to help patients suffering from pain,” said NIH
Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “These new centers will translate current research findings
about pain management to fill what have been recognized as gaps in curricula so clinicians in all fields
can work with their patients to make better and safer choices about pain treatment.”
Chronic pain affects approximately 100 million Americans, costing up to $635 billion in medical treatment
and lost productivity, and producing immeasurable suffering for people of every age. Yet, pain treatment
is not taught extensively in many health professional schools, and clinical approaches can be inconsistent.
The curricula developed by the centers will advance the assessment, diagnosis, and safe treatment of
a wide variety of pain conditions while minimizing the abuse of opioid pain relievers.
They will include multiple case-based scenarios, many taught in video or electronic formats popularly
used in contemporary academic settings. Types of pain of particular interest to the NIH Pain Consortium
are rehabilitation pain, arthritis and musculoskeletal pain, neuropathic pain, and headache pain. In
addition, the curricula will teach about the pathophysiology and pharmacology of pain and its treatment,
the latest research in complementary and integrative pain management, factors that contribute to both
under- and over-prescribing of pain medications, and how pain manifests itself differently by gender,
in children, in older adults and in diverse populations.
The other awardees are the University of Washington, Seattle; the University of Pennsylvania Perelman
School of Medicine, Philadelphia; Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville; the University of Rochester,
N.Y.; the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston; the
Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine, Philadelphia; the University of California, San Francisco;
the University of Maryland, Baltimore; and the University of Pittsburgh.
Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate
levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is the state of Alabama’s largest employer and an internationally
renowned research university and academic health center; its professional schools and specialty patient-care
programs are consistently ranked among the nation’s top 50. Find more information at
www.uab.edu and www.uabmedicine.org.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is a separate, independent
institution from the University of Alabama, which is located in Tuscaloosa. Please use University
of Alabama at Birmingham on first reference and UAB on second reference.