Jeremy Thompson, MD, PhD, recently received a $250,000 Mentored Research Training Grant from the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) for his project titled, “Molecular Adaptations in Mesolimbic Dopamine Neurons Underlying the Transition from Acute to Chronic Pain.”
The FAER Mentored Research Training Grant helps physician anesthesiologists, such as Dr. Thompson in developing the skills, preliminary data for subsequent grant applications, and research publications required to become independent investigators.
The aim of Dr. Thompson’s research is to identify how brain regions that are implicated in depression are affected by chronic pain. Specifically, he is investigating how the small conductance calcium activated potassium channel and its interactions with voltage gated sodium channels contribute to acute and chronic pain-related neuroplasticity in reward circuitry.
“Patients with chronic pain are much more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, which contributes to their overall morbidity and complicates their treatment,” Dr. Thompson said. “By studying these molecular and synaptic changes, I hope to shed light on the mechanisms underlying the transition from normal acute pain to pathological chronic pain, thereby identifying new targets for pharmacological and neuromodulatory treatments.”
Dr. Thompson will lead this research along with his co-mentors from the Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Meaghan Creed, PhD, and the Henry E. Mallinckrodt Professor of Anesthesiology, Alex S. Evers, MD.
“Plasticity in the reward pathway contributes to depression symptoms occurring in chronic pain disorders and Dr. Thompson’s project will help determine the molecular mechanisms that drive this maladaptive plasticity,” said Dr. Creed. “This will be a first step towards developing new therapies that can restore reward system function and treat symptoms of depression in chronic pain.”
Currently, Dr. Thompson is a PGY5 and a trainee in our Academic Scholars Advancement Program (ASAP) which was designed to accelerate the careers of physician-scientists in anesthesiology and position them to make groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Dr. Thompson will graduate from the Pain Management Fellowship Program in June 2024.
An organization of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), FAER is dedicated to developing the next generation of physician-scientists in anesthesiology and fueling anesthesiology’s future through scientific discovery. More information about FAER and the fall 2023 grant recipients is available on the ASA website.