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Approved research

Resting state functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)-based markers of chronic pain

Principal Investigator: Professor Tor Wager
Approved Research ID: 43851
Approval date: March 26th 2019

Lay summary

Chronic pain affects a large number of people worldwide and is a notoriously difficult condition to treat, in part because of the complex nature of pain disorders. Chronic pain can be caused by many different things: accidents, nerve damage, inflammation, etc., and therefore two main aims of pain research are to create reliable ways of distinguishing different types of chronic pain from one another, and to find common drivers of chronic pain in the nervous system between types of pain conditions. This project seeks to develop markers of chronic pain using resting-state functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) data from the UK Biobank dataset, with the goal of working towards developing diagnostic tools that clinicians can use to treat chronic pain patients. We believe that fMRI data from the UK Biobank dataset is ideal for this purpose: the large amount of data points in each fMRI scan lends itself well to developing statistical markers, and as many chronic pain conditions have a significant central nervous system component, we feel that these markers may shed light on the causes of chronic pain itself. We believe that this project will have important consequences for public health, as a better understanding of the mechanisms of chronic pain, and more advanced diagnostic tools will strongly benefit the clinical treatment and management of pain.