WASHINGTON--An announcement by NIH director Harold E. Varmus, MD, of
a plan to form a national pain research consortium came as a complete,
but pleasant surprise to the American Pain Society, Martin Grabois, MD,
president of the Society, said in an interview with Oncology News International.
In his keynote address at the Society's Annual Scientific Meeting, Dr.
Varmus said that the consortium will comprise representatives from various
branches of the NIH, including, but not limited to, the National Institute
of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, National Cancer Institute, National
Institute on Aging, and National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal
and Skin Diseases.
Dr. Varmus said that the consortium would serve as a centralized clearinghouse
for projects and information on pain, help to publicize the aims and accomplishments
of pain specialists, and foster collaboration and dialogue among scientists,
pain societies, advocacy groups, and other members of the pain community.
Proposed Functions of the Planned NIH Pain Research Consortium
Dr. Grabois, professor and chairman of physical medicine and rehabilitation,
Baylor College of Medicine, said that the Society was very enthused by
the announcement. If the consortium carries out the goals and functions
Dr. Varmus described in his talk (see table above), he said, "I think
that would go a long way toward upgrading pain research conducted at NIH
or with NIH support." However, he noted that Dr. Varmus included no
time frame for the formation of the consortium. "We would like to
see how the plan is implemented and take a look a year later to see how
well the consortium's stated goals have been met."
Charles S. Cleeland, PhD, outgoing president of the Society, said that
the consortium would bring a "needed level of coordination of pain
research at the NIH." He added that he hoped the consortium "will
look for advice and counsel from the community of patients who suffer pain
and the professionals who try to help these patients."