Persistent pain represents a substantial and growing unmet medical need worldwide. Nearly half of people who visit a doctor in the US are seeking treatment for persistent pain, and lost productivity due to pain totals at least $80 billion each year in the United States alone. The toll worldwide is much higher. In the last 40 years, researchers have made important progress in understanding the molecular mechanisms and neurobiological underpinnings of pain, but few of these discoveries have been translated into new treatments or other patient-relevant advances. In particular, neuropathic pain—pain that results from damage, degeneration or dysfunction of the sensory nervous system—remains largely untreatable.
Launched in June, 2011, the Pain Research Forum (PRF) is an interactive web community dedicated to finding treatments for untreatable pain conditions. Modeled on the highly successful Alzheimer Research Forum and similar sites for schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease, the PRF aims to build a virtual meeting place for investigators in academia, industry, medicine and other fields who are working to translate basic neurobiology into new treatments for chronic pain.
The ultimate goal of the site is to help researchers to speed the rendering of new knowledge into novel therapies by improving information sharing between labs and the clinic, by fostering new collaborations among researchers, and by raising interest in pain research among a wider community of scientists and clinicians.
The Pain Research Forum is a joint project of the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center and MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease Informatics. PRF was launched with funding from two private foundations, and today enjoys support from nine organizations representing three sectors--professional societies and associations; foundations and philanthropists; and the pharmaceutical industry.