Researchers and the public will find it easier to keep track of federally funded pain research projects, now that they can visit the Interagency Pain Research Portfolio (IPRP) website. There they will be able to search a database that consolidates far-flung pain research and training activities. By sifting through the database, users may identify opportunities for education and collaboration and, ultimately, advance the fundamental understanding of pain and improve pain-related treatment strategies.

The database is a two-tiered system that organizes over 1,200 research projects. In Tier 1, grants are organized as basic, translational (research that can be applied to diseases), or clinical research projects. In Tier 2, grants are sorted among 29 scientific topic areas related to pain, such as biobehavioral and psychosocial mechanisms, chronic overlapping conditions, and neurobiological mechanisms.

The Tier 2 categories are also organized into nine research themes: pain mechanisms, basic to clinical, disparities, training and education, tools and instruments, risk factors and causes, surveillance and human trials, overlapping conditions, and use of services, treatments, and interventions.

“This database will provide the public and the research community with an important tool to learn more about the breadth and details of pain research supported across the federal government. They can search for individual research projects or sets of projects grouped by themes uniquely relevant to pain,” said Linda Porter, Ph.D., policy advisor for pain at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “It also can be helpful in identifying potential collaborators by searching for topic areas of interest or for investigators.”

The database was developed by NIH staff and members of the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (IPRCC). The IPRCC is a federal advisory committee formed to expand pain research efforts and encourage collaboration across the government.

Four of the agencies that played a role in developing the IPRP are part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to the NIH, they are the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration. The other two agencies are the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.

“The database reveals a diverse research portfolio in which contributions from federal agencies and departments reflect their unique missions and the populations that they serve. For the first time, this information has been collected into a single database that can be mined to ensure that federal research efforts are not redundant and to identify opportunities to collaborate and share resources across agencies,” explained Dr. Porter. “In addition, it will help the federal entities that support pain research to identify gaps in research areas and trends in topic areas over time.”

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