UF Health Awarded NIH Grant to Develop Clinical Trial Network for Pain Treatment

UF Health will become the hub of a statewide clinical trial network geared at early-phase interventions to treat various types of pain and decrease opioid use, thanks to a five-year NIH grant awarded in September.

Rene Przkora, MD
Rene Przkora, MD, PhD

Rene Przkora, MD, PhD, Professor of Anesthesiology, and Patrick Tighe, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, are the Principle Investigators on the NIH U24 grant awarded through the multiyear Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) initiative.

The grant, titled “University of Florida Early Phase Pain Investigation Clinical Center,” provided $592,276 in direct funds and $903,221 in total.

It will fund the development of clinical trial infrastructure to help more patients get access to cutting-edge pain treatments with an emphasis on decreasing the need for opioids through connections to other college facilities, pain physicians, and the private community.

Partick Tighe, MD, MS
Patrick Tighe, MD, MS

UF will be the hub of the Early Phase Pain Treatment Investigation Clinical (EPPIC) Network, with spokes ranging from large academic centers to community pain physicians throughout the diverse state of Florida, as well as direct community outreach capabilities.

The network will cover multiple levels of care, with the goal of addressing all levels of acute and chronic pain. It will include adult and pediatric patients.

“It maps the reality of clinical care,” Dr. Przkora said of the network, which will continue to bring in funding through incoming projects.

The HEAL initiative seeks to improve pain treatments, curb opioid use disorder and overdose rates, and achieve long-term recovery from opioid addiction. The initiative awarded $945 million in total fiscal year 2019 funding for grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements in 41 states.

UF received the funding because of its existing infrastructure, multidisciplinary focus, and extensive track record conducting clinical trials and pain research, Dr. Przkora said, crediting the support of Timothy Morey, MD, Chair of the Department, and David Nelson, MD, Senior Vice President for Health Affairs at UF and President of UF Health.

“The science paid for by these funds will help us understand how to treat pain better, decrease the use of opioids with all the problems caused by these drugs, and in general improve the health of the lives of all Floridians and others in the southern United States,” Dr. Morey said.

Dr. Przkora, who is Division Chief of Pain Medicine and Program Director of the Multidisciplinary Pain Medicine Fellowship, will lead the outpatient pain focus of the hub while Dr. Tighe, who is also Joint Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Affiliate Associate Professor of Information Systems and Operations Management, will offer his expertise in translational research involving pain in hospitalized patients. Roger Fillingim, PhD, Professor in the College of Dentistry and Director of the UF Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence, is a Co-Investigator.