Persistent visceral pain disorders affecting the gastrointestinal and urogenital tract are common, disproportionally affect women, have a considerable effect on health related quality of life and result in excessive health care utilization. The NIH Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) in Neurovisceral Sciences and Women’s Health aims to develop novel insight into the pathophysiology of these common disorders, in particular into sex related differences in underlying mechanisms, in order to develop more cost effective therapies.
The general goals of the program in pain neurobiology are to characterize the mechanisms that facilitate and inhibit visceral and somatic pain, and to establish the role of vulnerability factors in the transition from acute to chronic pain in rodent models. We have established several models of chronic stress associated with hyperalgesia and we are working toward acquiring a better understanding of the molecular pathways involved in both peripheral and central sensitization in the context of stress-induced pain facilitation.
Persistent and recurrent pain disorders affect about 20-30% of children, with about 10% being severely disabled by their pain. Pain disrupts normal childhood development, impacts education, and affects the entire family. The Children’s Pain Research Program aims to understand the neurobiological, psychological, and social causes and contributors to children’s pain conditions and to develop novel treatments to enhance function and quality of life for these children and their families. The goal is to reduce the likelihood of childhood pain evolving into adult chronic pain.
Anxiety disorders afflict about 40 million Americans, making them one of the most common diseases. Normal levels of fear are adaptive because they lead to protective and defensive responses in a dangerous environment. However, when fear is excessive and inappropriate it can severely curtail normal productive activities and produce profound distress. The problems for individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders, their families and society at large are further exacerbated because they occur together with depression and excessive drug and alcohol use and abuse.
Disorders of ingestive behavior, including obesity and anorexia nervosa (AN) are common, affect women more than men, and are associated with a high morbidity and mortality. The control of food intake is one of the most highly adaptive and regulated biological processes, and the high prevalence of disorders in industrialized societies points towards strong environmental factors. For both obesity and AN, alterations in bidirectional brain gut interactions have been proposed as plausible disease models.
Sudden cardiac death is the leading cause of death in the United States and accounts for almost 250,000 deaths/year. The vast majority of these deaths are thought to be due to ventricular tachyarrhythmias. Several cellular and molecular events that underlie sudden arrhythmic death have been well characterized. A major challenge in the field of cardiac electrophysiology is to understand how events at a cellular and molecular level translate into behavior of arrhythmias in the whole organ. The autonomic nervous system is a powerful regulator of arrhythmias.
Our mission is to promote excellence and innovation in Mind-Body medicine at UCLA through fostering new research on the neurobiology of health and healing. The program brings together a multidisciplinary network of scientists and clinicians with expertise in Mind Body and Integrative Medicine therapies, Health Services research and neuroscience.