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."