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VCU initiative aims to speed up the development of new treatments for pain and neuropathy

Drs. Dimaj and Del Fabbro welcome participants to the TRIPN conference.
M. Imad Damaj, Ph.D. (left), and Egidio Del Fabbro, M.D., welcome participants to the reception.

Experts from departments across VCU and Massey Cancer Center are collaborating on a scientific initiative to tackle pain and neuropathy, and it could have big implications for millions of Americans that live with chronic pain. The Translational Research Initiative for Pain and Neuropathy, or TRIPN for short, aims to bridge the gap between basic science and clinical research of pain and neuropathy at VCU with the overall goal of improving patient care and quality of life.

M. Imad Damaj, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the at VCU School of Medicine, and Egidio Del Fabbro, M.D., Palliative Care Endowed Chair and program director at VCU Massey Cancer Center, announced the initiative at an inaugural reception on July 17 that was attended by more than 100 clinicians and researchers from various departments throughout VCU.

Damaj and Del Fabbro explained that the idea behind TRIPN is to bring together researchers and clinicians from across VCU to collaborate on pain research projects. This interdisciplinary model will help encourage the translation of basic research to clinical trials in an effort to speed up the development of new treatments for pain and neuropathy.

“Chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a common problem for many cancer patients and survivors, so it makes sense for Massey Cancer Center to help spearhead this initiative,” says Del Fabbro.  “But, unfortunately, neuropathy is familiar to many people with diabetes and a host of other diseases. Understanding the mechanisms that cause it can provide insights into treating other forms of chronic pain as well as neurodegenerative diseases.”

TRIPN will host monthly research meetings for basic and clinical scientists, with the goal of brainstorming potential collaborations and bringing outside perspectives to established research. The program will offer pilot translational research grants in order to fund promising ideas that need preliminary research in order to qualify for larger grants. It will also support the training of graduate students, residents and postdoctoral fellows interested in pain and neuropathy. In addition, a yearly symposium will recap the efforts of the past year, highlight promising research and provide more opportunities for future collaboration.

To learn more about TRIPN, contact Program Coordinator Teri Dulong-Rae at teri.dulongrae@vcuhealth.org.

Written by: John Wallace

Posted on: August 3, 2018