Clinical Pain Discovery

Clinical Pain Discovery Group

Our Mission:

Bring together a multidisciplinary group of investigators from across the University of Pittsburgh campus to foster collaboration and innovation in the clinical science of pain. We were formed in close collaboration with the Pittsburgh Center for Pain Research, which focuses on basic pain discovery.

We welcome new members! Please contact Dr. Jessica Merlin at if you would like to receive emails about Clinical Pain Discovery meetings. Check out the bottom of this page for upcoming events!

Our Members

Executive Committee:

  • Jessica Merlin, MD, PhD
    Associate Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine
  • Maria Pacella, PhD
    Research Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine
  • Ben Alter, MD, PhD
    Clinical Assistant Professor & T32 Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine
  • Sarah Ross, PhD
    Associate Professor, Department of Neurobiology
  • Michael S. Gold, PhD
    Professor, Department of Neurobiology

CPD Group Members:

Upcoming Events:

May 29th, 2019 — 10-11AM
2nd Floor Conference Room, 3609 Forbes Avenue

Dr. Charles Jonassaint, PHD, MHS

Pain is the #1 reason for medical visits in the U.S. yet we have limited tools for assessing pain. We still rely on the same numeric scales and pain adjectives that we have been using for the past 50 years. The most recent innovative breakthrough in pain assessment may be the Wong-Baker FACES scale which was developed in the early 80’s. Despite recent technological advancements, electronic pain scales are simply electronic versions of the paper-pencils scales we have been using for decades. The address this gap, we use a human-centered design approach to develop Painimation, a novel, electronic, pain assessment tool that utilizes a time-based medium—animation—that can be calibrated by patients to express the dynamic and multidimensional aspects of their pain experience. Our goal is to demonstrate that Painimation is not only easy-to-use and engaging but this patient-centered tool can remove barriers of age, culture, language and literacy level in pain assessment. Preliminary data suggests that Painimation improves patients’ ability to communicate their pain and may be equally as effective for discriminating pain types as other validated pain scales. In addition, we have data that suggests that Painimation can detect changes in pain post-opioid pain treatment. During our meeting I’ll be presenting our pilot data and asking for feedback and ideas on how to move this innovation forward.

June 14th, 2019 — 4PM
University Club Terrace, 123 University Place

PCPR and CPD Happy Hour

The Pittsburgh Center for Pain Research and the Clinical Pain Discovery Group will be hosting a happy hour reception on the terrace of the University Club at 4PM on June 14th, 2019. We hope you can join!