News Release

PHILADELPHIA — The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and School of Dental Medicine, has been designated a national Center of Excellence in Pain Education (CoEPEs) by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"Pain is one of the primary reasons that patients seek medical care," said John T. Farrar, MD, PhD, co-principal investigator of the new center and associate professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at Penn. "Learning how to properly diagnose the underlying cause and how to effectively treat both acute and chronic pain needs to be an important focus of medical education. The interprofessional collaboration between three Penn schools in this endeavor is pivotal to our mission to help redefine pain education in the U.S. health care system and improve the lives of all of our patients."

Chronic pain affects approximately 100 million Americans, costing up to $635 billion in medical treatment and lost productivity, and producing immeasurable suffering for people of every age. Yet, pain treatment is not taught extensively in many health professional schools, and clinical approaches can be inconsistent.

As one of 11 CoEPEs in the country, Penn will act as hub for the development, evaluation, and distribution of pain management curriculum resources for medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy schools to enhance and improve how health care professionals are taught about pain and its treatment.

The curricula developed by the CoEPEs will advance the assessment, diagnosis, and safe treatment of a wide variety of pain conditions while striving to minimize the availability of opioid pain relievers to those who would abuse them. Innovative approaches to case-based scenarios will include video simulation and electronic game formats that are just being introduced into contemporary academic settings. Types of pain of particular interest to the NIH Pain Consortium are rehabilitation pain, arthritis and musculoskeletal pain, neuropathic pain, and headache pain. In addition, the curricula will teach about the pathophysiology and pharmacology of pain, the application of the available scientific evidence to its treatment, the latest research in complementary and integrative pain management, factors that contribute to both under- and over-prescribing of pain medications, and how pain manifests itself differently by gender, in children, in older adults and in diverse populations.

More than 20 faculty members within the Perelman School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and School of Dental Medicine will unite in developing an integrated curriculum to address the major health problem of pain and its consequences on the health and well-being of the U.S. population. Rosemary C. Polomano, PhD, RN, associate professor of Pain Practice and Elliot V. Hersh, DMD, MS, PhD, professor of Oral Surgery and Pharmacology, are the co-principal investigators from the Schools of Nursing and Dental Medicine respectively.

The new Centers of Excellence in Pain Education were selected by the NIH Pain Consortium after a contract solicitation process and review. To learn more about the NIH Centers of Excellence in Pain Education program, please read the NIH press release.

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

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