Duquesne researchers receive $1.5M grant to study link between emotions and physical pain | TribLIVE.com
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Duquesne researchers receive $1.5M grant to study link between emotions and physical pain

Emily Balser
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Duquesne University researchers are using a $1.5 million grant to study how emotions can have an influence on certain types of physical pain.

The study will look at chronic bladder pain, a condition that has no known cause and is difficult to treat. The condition affects more women than men.

The study is led by Benedict Kolber, associate biological sciences professor, who has been studying the condition for 10 years. It will try to determine the role emotions might play in creating symptoms and transmitting pain to the brain

“There is an important emotional component to chronic bladder pain,” Kolber said in a news release. “People with chronic bladder pain are also more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression and experience pain in other parts of the body.”

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, will use physiological techniques and behavior to determine which parts of the brain are activated during bladder pain.

“The first step will use physiology to determine the changes that the brain goes through from acute to chronic bladder pain and to see where chronic pain is coming from,” Kolber said. “By identifying the role of the brain, we can determine how pain information is transmitted to and maintained in the brain and how that might impact other symptoms.”

The research effort recently received more support when Heather Allen, a third-year biology doctoral student and member of Kolber’s team, received the Kirschstein National Research Service Award.

It marks only the second time a Duquesne student has received a National Institutes of Health predoctoral fellowship. The award is highly competitive and worth more than $125,000 over three years.

The goal of Allen’s project is to discover the novel types of brain cells that control bladder pain and new treatment options for patients.

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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