Apkar V. Apkarian

Apkar V. Apkarian

I am professor in the Departments of Neuroscience, Anesthesia, and PM&R at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, as well as the Director of Center for Translational Pain Research at Northwestern University. Our Pain Center is a National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Drug Abuse designated Center of Excellence for the study of Chronic Pain and Drug Abuse. 

The past 35 years of my life have been devoted to unravelling brain mechanisms that underlie acute and chronic pain, and more generally how the brain dynamically processes information that gives rise to perception. Over the last 20 years, I have used brain imaging technology to delineate brain biomarkers of chronic pain, with an emphasis on brain mechanisms of chronic back pain (CBP). These efforts have been quite successful and our work has resulted in many significant advances in the field of pain research: the first identification of grey matter atrophy related to chronic pain, the first account of brain activity unique to spontaneousfluctuations of chronic pain, the first characterization of resting state brain network abnormalities in chronic pain populations, thefirst determination of mesocorticolimbic biomarkers predicting future pain chronification, the first parallel human-rodentneuroimaging of the transition to chronic pain, the first demonstration that hippocampal synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis are critical for neuropathic pain, the first identification of brain biomarkers for placebo response propensity, and more. These observations have been replicated across multiple international laboratories. With over 17,330 citations, my h index is 63 and my work has been continuously funded by 6 NIH institutes (NINDS, NIDCR, NIDDK, NCCIH, NIDA, NIAMS) for > 2 decades. This work would not have been possible without the enthusiasm, creativity, and persistence of a large number of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows whom I have trained, as well as the talent and inspiration of my colleagues. It has become clear to me thattransforming this body of research into the clinical treatment and prevention of chronic pain requires a transdisciplinary teamscience approach.