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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

NIH Pain Consortium Quarterly Meeting Minutes

Summary:  The NIH Pain Consortium meeting included updates on congressional funds given to NIH for pain and opioids research and IC pain/opioid proposals submitted to the NIH Office of Director for consideration.  Additional updates were presented on the following topics: 2018 Pain Consortium Symposium planning; Common Fund proposal on the Transition from Acute to Chronic Pain; Receipt and referral guidelines for the omnibus funding initiative for pain research; Center for Scientific Review update on the new study section on Somatosensory and Pain Systems; and request for comments for a new AHRQ review on opioids and pain.

Welcome and Update on NIH Pain/Opioids Funding – Dr. Walter Koroshetz, NINDS

Dr. Koroshetz welcomed the group and gave a brief update on congressional funds given to the NIH to advance pain and opioids research.  Dr. Francis Collins recently presented at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin summit on the role of science in addressing the opioid crisis. He talked about pain and opioid-related initiatives including the NIH common fund program on pain, the NCCIH/DoD partnership on pain in veterans, the SPARC (Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions) initiative, clinical trials, medication-assisted therapies (MAT), neonatal opioid withdrawal, and demo projects using best practices.  In 2018, Congress appropriated $500 million dollars to NIH for pain and opioids research.  Details about how the money will be allocated further are being discussed.  NIH pain proposals submitted to Dr. Larry Tabak will be reviewed by a group of IC Directors.  Discussions about the public-private partnership are centered around the need to commercialize industry resources and request industry expertise to the extent possible. There are challenges in accepting industry funds.  Dr. Collins’ advisory board will submit their recommendations before a decision is made.

Pain Proposal Initiatives – Dr. Walter Koroshetz, NINDS

Attendees provided brief updates on the status of their IC pain proposals.  Representatives from NIDCR, NCCIH, NIDA, NINDS, NCATS, NHLBI, NCI, NEI, and NIAMS briefly presented the proposals they submitted and the proposals they signed onto from other ICs.  ORWH and OBSSR signed onto a number of proposals that fell within their areas of interest.  Proposals covered pain- and opioid-related studies including, but not limited to, analgesic development, pharmacogenomics of pain management, clinical trials, overdose prevention, and GWAS studies.

PC Symposium Update – Drs. Cheryse Sankar, NINDS & Yolanda Vallejo, NIDCR

The NIH Pain consortium symposium will be held on May 31-June 1st, 2018 in the Masur Auditorium.  The theme will be “From Science to Society: At the Intersection of Chronic Pain Management”.   The agenda is currently being finalized and the co-organizers are waiting to hear whether extended invitations to Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Jerome Adams will be accepted.  A call for session moderators will go out by email to the Pain Consortium group shortly.

NIH Common Fund – Dr. Linda Porter, NINDS

The proposal for a common fund program on the transition from acute to chronic pain has been accepted.  Currently, the common fund group is working on developing a detailed plan.  A literature review has been performed and the planning group has reached out to appropriate experts. Volunteers will be requested to serve as scientific and administrative officers and to write-up initiatives. 

Pain Omnibus FOA & Receipt and Referral Guidelines – Dr. Michael Oshinsky, NINDS

The history of the omnibus funding initiative “Mechanisms, Models, Measurement & Management in Pain Research” was discussed among the PC representatives.  Over the years, some of the ICs that had initially signed on have dropped off.  Dr. Oshinsky noted that a number of these ICs that are no longer signed on received a significant number of applications.  Dr. Oshinsky asked the members to look out for the opportunity to sign on and consider revisiting the receipt and referral guidelines for the pain-related topics.  Due to the new requirements for designating FOAs as accepting or not accepting clinical trials, there is some confusion in the research community.  NINDS developed a notice to differentiate mechanistic and clinical trials to reduce confusion.

Update on New Pain Study Section – Dr. Bruce Reed, Center for Scientific Review

A proposal to split the Somatosensory and Chemosensory (SCS) study section into two separate study sections:  Somatosensory and Pain Systems (SPS) and Chemosensory Systems (CSS) was accepted and implemented.  A recurring special emphasis panel was convened to cover SPS.  After two rounds of the special emphasis panel, an external scientific review blue ribbon panel was convened. The roster was composed of chemosensory and pain specialists.  The panel was supportive of dividing the two sections, small changes to the guidelines were recommended.  The CSR advisory group then approved the study section.  Currently, CSR is in the implementation process which involves dividing appointed members from SCS into two separate sections.  Both new study sections have seen increases in the number of applications, more reviewers will be needed.  Reviewer suggestions from the Pain Consortium group were welcomed.


AHRQ Systematic Review on Pain and Opioids – Dr. Dave Thomas, NIDA

As a follow-up to the initial review done by Agency for Healthcare Quality Research (AHRQ) for the 2014 Pathways to Prevention workshop on the role of opioids in chronic pain, AHRQ is considering developing another systematic review.  Dr. Thomas suggested the topic may be around prevention of opioid use disorder.  AHRQ is asking CDC, ASPE, SAMHSA and NIH for input.  Drs. Thomas and Wendy Smith can collect comments from the NIH Pain Consortium members.