The NIH Pain Consortium Mitchell Max Award for Research Excellence honors Dr. Mitchell Max, MD (1949 – 2008) for his lifetime contribution to pain research and is awarded annually to the best poster presentation at the NIH Pain Consortium Symposium.

2022 Mitchell Max Awardee


Photo of Tyler Nelson, Ph.D. 2022 Mitchell Max Awardee

Tyler Nelson, Ph.D.

New York University

Uncovering therapeutic spinal cord targets for the treatment of neuropathic pain

Dr. Tyler Nelson is a postdoctoral assistant research scientist in the New York University (NYU) Pain Research Center. He received his PhD in Neurobiology from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine as a trainee in the Pittsburgh Center for Pain Research. Tyler’s doctoral research focused on the spinal cord dorsal horn microcircuitry underlying neuropathic pain, with a focus on neuropeptide Y - Y1 signaling. His doctoral work was supported by multiple grants from the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), including a T32, an F32, and an F99. In his postdoctoral work at NYU, he studies the peripheral and central mechanisms of neuropathic and neuromuscular pain using a combination of molecular, genetic, electrophysiological, and behavioral approaches. Tyler is currently funded by a K00 award focused on dissecting the parabrachial nucleus’s role in the manifestation and maintenance of neuropathic pain.

Past Recipients

2021 Awardee: Daisy Cantu
Graduate Student
Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX
Stress Exacerbates Orofacial Pain to a Greater Degree in Female Rats 

2020 Awardee: Dr. Ana Moreno 
Navega Therapeutics
Repression of Sodium Channels via Gene Therapy for Treatment of Chronic Neuropathic Pain

2019 Awardee: Michael D. Burton
University of Texas at Dallas
Delayed Onset of Neuropathic Pain in Aged Males After Peripheral Nerve Injury

2018 Awardee: Ishmail Abdus-Saboor
University of Pennsylvania
A Mouse Pain Scale: Assessment of Pain Sensation in Mice Using Sub-second Behavioral Mapping and Statistical Modeling

2017 Awardee: Cameron L. Randall
West Virginia University
Variation in MC1R Gene Predicts Dental Pain Sensitivity

2022 Mitchell Max Award Finalists:

Madelyn Frumkin, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis MO
Improved Prediction of Spine Surgery Outcomes using Dynamic Features Derived from Mobile Health Monitoring

Madelyn Frumkin is a PhD candidate in Clinical Science at Washington University in St. Louis. Madelyn completed her undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Madelyn's research focuses on using mobile health data to improve understanding, prediction, and treatment of co-occurring psychological and physiological problems. Her current work examining individual differences in biopsychosocial mechanisms underlying chronic back pain and response to spine surgery is funded by an F31 from the National Institute of Mental Health. Madelyn was additionally awarded a Graduate Student Research Scholarship from the American Psychological Foundation/Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology and a Dissertation Research Award from the American Psychological Association. Starting in July 2023, she will complete her predoctoral internship at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Taichi Goto PhD, National Institute of Nursing Research, National Institutes of Health
Unveiling the link between BDNF rs6265 Polymorphism and Severe Neuropathic Pain in Female Cancer Survivors

Dr. Taichi Goto is currently a Research fellow with the Dr. Saligan laboratory at the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), National Institutes of Health. He obtained his Ph.D. in health science from the University of Tokyo in 2018. He completed two post-doctoral fellowships in the NINR and the University of Maryland School of Nursing and transitioned to his current position last year. His research interest is using symptom science for disease prevention and health promotion, one of the NINR research lenses. He has been working on underlying mechanisms and identifying biomarkers of wound pain to help develop appropriate interventions, especially for vulnerable populations such as the cognitively impaired. His current project is exploring the relationships of single nucleotide polymorphisms in some genes with chronic symptoms experienced by cancer patients and survivors.

Edwin Aroke PhD, CRNA, FAAN, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Genomic Pathways Enriched by Differentially Methylated Genes are Linked to Racial Disparities in Chronic Low Back Pain

Dr. Edwin Aroke is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Dual DNP-PhD Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing. Dr. Aroke graduated from the Duke University Nurse Anesthesia Program and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His program of research, funded by the NIH, uses a multi-omics approach to examine the mechanisms that cause and sustain chronic pain and racial pain disparities. Dr. Aroke has received numerous prestigious awards, including, Researcher of the Year by the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA) Foundation, Didactic Faculty of the Year by the AANA, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

Raveendhara R. Bannuru MD, PhD Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA
Ideal Dose and Duration of Exercise Interventions to Achieve Treatment Response: An Individual-Participant Data Network Meta-Analysis Assessing the Comparative Effectiveness of Mind-Body Interventions for Knee Osteoarthritis

Dr. Bannuru is a primary care physician, received his MD from India and PhD in clinical and translational science from Tufts University. He received Dean’s award for excellence in research and Faculty of 1000 international award for excellent research for his doctoral work, which was supported by T32 and F32 grants from AHRQ. His major research interests include multiple treatment comparison methodology, clinical practice guideline development, meta-epidemiological studies, and placebo effects in chronic pain. Dr. Bannuru applied evidence synthesis and comparative effectiveness research methods in preparing knee osteoarthritis devices for the FDA’s regulatory review. Over the past few years, he served as the lead guideline methodologist for American College of Rheumatology, American Diabetes Association, Osteoarthritis Research Society International, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, American Academy of Neurology, Infectious Diseases Society of America and WHO. Dr. Bannuru’s current work, supported by NCCIH (K23), is focused on the non-pharmacological management of chronic musculoskeletal pain. He is applying individual-patient data network meta-analysis techniques to identify what intervention works best for who, and to find the optimal dose and duration of these interventions to elicit a treatment response.

David Yarmolinsky, PhD, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA
Visualizing transformations of spinal sensory coding in neuropathic pain.

David Yarmolinsky is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Neurobiology at Boston Children’s Hospital. His research interests include the function, plasticity, and dysfunction of mammalian sensory systems. David was born in Tangier and grew up in New York, NY. He completed undergraduate work at Oberlin College in Biology and Neuroscience and received his PhD from Columbia University, where he studied the molecular and systems neurobiology of mammalian taste sensation in the laboratory of Charles Zuker. His current research in the laboratory of Clifford Woolf applies in vivo neurophotonics to investigate circuit mechanisms giving rise to neuropthic pain. This work is funded by an an K99/R00 Pathway to Independence award from the NIDCR.

2021 Mitchell Max Award Finalists:

Image of Dr. Melissa Accordino.

Melissa K. Accordino, MD, MS, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY
CONTRoL Trial: Cryotherapy vs. cOmpression Neuropathy TRiaL: randomized controlled selection trial for prevention of taxane-induced peripheral neuropathy in patients with breast cancer

Dr. Accordino is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia University. She is a breast medical oncologist and her research is focused on cancer care delivery, cancer survivorship, and disparities in cancer care. She has been the recipient of grant funding from Columbia University, the Hope Foundation, the Conquer Cancer Foundation, and the NIH. Dr. Accordino has expertise in population-based analyses, interventional trials aimed at improving gaps between evidence-based care and real-world practice, and is currently leading a pilot study of cryotherapy vs. compression therapy. vs. placebo in hopes of reducing chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy.  She has a strong interest in improving the quality of cancer care delivery, reducing care disparities, and improving long term quality of life for patients who have had cancer.

Image of Dr. Jo Armour Smith

Jo Armour Smith PhD, PT, Chapman University, Irvine, CA

The influence of postural behavior and brain organization on progression of back pain symptoms in young adults: a prospective longitudinal study

Jo Armour Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at Chapman University. Her research focuses on control of movement in the trunk, and how impairments in the sensorimotor processes underlying trunk control contribute to pain and movement dysfunction. Prior to beginning her research career, Jo worked as a physical therapist in the United Kingdom and the United States. She received her PhD from the University of Southern California (USC), where she worked in Kornelia Kulig’s lab investigating postural control of the trunk during walking and turning. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Beth Fisher’s lab at USC where she examined the neural correlates of impaired anticipatory postural adjustments in the trunk in older adults. Jo received the Margaret L Moore Award for Outstanding New Faculty Member from the American Physical Therapy Association in 2017. 

Mitchell B. Max, MD


Photo of Mitchell Max

Mitchell B. Max, MD, was a visiting professor of anesthesiology, medicine, and human genetics and director of the Molecular Epidemiology of Pain Program at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Pain Research. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He completed a fellowship in neurology and pharmacology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, studying the pharmacokinetics of opioid drugs. He was appointed medical director of the Pain Research Clinic in the pain and neurosensory mechanisms branch of the NIH National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). For over two decades, he conducted research on the mechanisms and treatment of analgesics and neuropathic pain and published extensively. From 2005 to 2007 he was chief of the clinical pain research section of NIDCR. Dr. Max was a fellow of the American Neurological Association since 1990, a member of the AAN (1988–1990), and a member of the American Pain Society (APS). At the APS, he served as secretary from 1988–1990, chair of the Quality Improvement Committee (1988–1995), member of the Decade of Pain Research Planning Committee (2002–2008), and chair of the Analgesic Guidelines Committee (1986–2002), which produced the influential monograph Principles of Analgesic Use in the Treatment of Acute Pain and Cancer Pain. His multiple honors and awards include the APS Wilbert E. Fordyce Clinical Investigator Award (1996), the US Public Health Service Citation Award (1986), and the NIH Director's Award (1993).


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