NIH Specialized Clinical Trials Center

Ajay D. Wasan, MD, MSc

Dr. Wasan’s Research and Innovation Program

Dr. Wasan’s research has received continuous NIH funding for the past 15 years. Most recently, his research has benefited significantly from funding through the NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL Initiative) Program. Dr. Wasan’s work involves several clinical trials in chronic pain and the development of better medical informatics tools to guide treatment decision making in chronic pain management. Dr. Wasan also oversees all of the chronic pain research in the Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine’s Pain Medicine Division and mentors junior faculty members conducting chronic pain research such as Dr. Ben Alter. In addition, Dr. Wasan is Co-Chair of the UPMC Systemwide Pain Steering Committee, which is a vehicle for dissemination of such innovations and an administrative unit to target pain care issues throughout UPMC.

NIH Back Pain Consortium Research Program Studies

A Randomized Controlled Trial to Improve Negative Affect and Pain in Chronic Low Back Pain

NIH/HEAL/NIAMS UG3/UH3; Funding Period: 9/01/2019 - 8/31/2024; PI: Ajay D. Wasan, MD, MSc

This work will address the need for better pain treatment for patients with chronic low back pain as well as mental health disorders like major depression or anxiety. It is a randomized comparative effectiveness trial of antidepressants versus fear avoidance rehabilitation versus the combination of the two in patients with chronic back pain and high levels of negative affect.

Examining the Effect of Intersectional Stigma on the Treatment of Negative Affect in Chronic Low Back Pain

NIH/HEAL/NIAMS Supplement (S1); Funding Period: 9/01/2020- 8/31/2021; PI: Ajay D. Wasan, MD, MSc

This study is in response the announcement, “HEAL Initiative: Notice of Special Interest regarding the Availability of Administrative Supplements to Support Strategies to Reduce Stigma in Pain Management and Opioid Use Disorder and Treatment.” 

The University of Pittsburgh Hub and Spoke Clinical Trials Network

NIH/HEAL/NINDS U24; Funding Period: 9/1/19-8/31/2024; PI: Ajay D. Wasan, MD, MSc, Co-Investigator:  Ben Alter, MD, PhD

This grant creates an NIH Specialized Clinical Center for pain clinical trials. Pittsburgh will be the hub for a six-spoke network of pain clinical investigators across the country to conduct Phase 2 and 3 trials. This work will enable the Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine to conduct more rigorous multi-site pain clinical trials with an experienced multidisciplinary team of investigators. The network will also serve as a mechanism to train younger pain clinical researchers.

Other Studies

Personalized Pain Treatment

Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance/UPMC Enterprises; Funding Period: 2019-2021; PI: Ajay D. Wasan, MD, MSc

This is an investigator-initiated project to create predictive analytic software using our pain treatment outcomes data repository to guide the choice of treatment for new patients with pain.

Implementing Contextual Factors Assessment in Clinical Settings

PCORI PROMIS Dissemination and Implementation Program; Funding period: 2018-2019, and renewed for 2020-2021; PIs:  Drs. Ajay D. Wasan and Carol Greco (Department of Psychiatry)

This is a study of the impacts on clinical care of pain specialists formally assessing and addressing expectations for improvement and other doctor-patient relationship factors at the start of treatment with each patient.

Medical Marijuana Clinical Research Program

Funded by cooperative agreement between the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Parallel; PI: Ajay D. Wasan, MD, MSc

We will analyze our pain treatment registry to study real world evidence regarding marijuana’s effectiveness for pain