Welcome to Pittsburgh Center for Pain Research!
Our goal is to further the understanding of sensory processes through scientific interaction and collaboration.
Message to the Pain Research Community:
The murder of George Floyd has highlighted once again the impact of systemic racism in our society. Our outrage over the unjustifiable police killing of George Floyd has been brought to head by the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and the disproportionate impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic on people of color. This time, however, there appears to be a glimmer of hope that things might actually change. This confluence of events has motivated people around the world to take action, with many of those in power finally asking themselves, and those within their institutions, what they can do differently to finally level the playing field.
While supporting the #Strike4BlackLives (#ShutDownAcademia, #ShutDownSTEM) on June 10th, we spent the day discussing what the Pittsburgh Center for Pain Research (PCPR) could do to facilitate this long overdue transition. We came up with the following list that all within the center endorse:
-Speak up! This is particularly important for the tenured faculty, not only because of the security of their positions, but because they are the ones making decisions about who gets hired, who gets promoted, who gets a raise, and who gets invited to be the next keynote speaker. If we are not asking why more people of color are not considered for these positions, we are complicit in the maintenance of the status quo. We will not only speak up, but we will work to foster an environment where uneven power dynamics do not affect one’s willingness speaking out.
-Support the investment of resources in improving the recruitment of people of color into pain research. Disparities in the health care system are particularly well documented in the context of pain, and as scientists, we have to believe that data must be used to guide decisions.
-Work to regain the trust of people of color in general, and the black community in particular, in research and medicine. This is a big ask, but one that we can address through efforts in areas we spend our lives studying, those of pain and addiction, and the translation of data into practice.
-Inspect our own house, with an analysis of the impact of race on the management of pain within the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), local Veterans Administration, and other healthcare systems in the Pittsburgh area. Results from this analysis will serve as the starting point for a dialog on strategies to address disparities in care.
-Improve education about racial disparities in pain, pain management, and the impact of pain on different communities. This is a topic that will be highlighted in the didactic courses run through the PCPR.
-Change the face of the PCPR seminar series. Several factors are considered choosing speakers in our seminar series, but race has not been one of them. Moving forward it will be.
-Support leadership within the PCPR, Pitt, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, as well as local elected officials committed to addressing the impact of racism.