“We are now recognizing that chronic pain is a brain disease, and if we want to treat it more effectively, we need to better understand and treat the mechanisms in the brain that are driving it.”
— Emeran Mayer, MD

What do migraine headache, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis have in common? All involve chronic pain. The current state of science suggests there are both similarities and differences across these and other pain disorders in terms of changes in brain structure and function that increase sensitivity to chronic pain and would therefore represent powerful targets for new interventions. While brain scanning with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is the best tool for studying the brain; MRI studies are expensive and most investigators do not have the ability to scan large enough groups of patients to find definitive answers to the questions of which brain regions or networks are critical for chronic pain and how this differs across the various pain conditions.

To move the pain field beyond these limitations, the CNS Pain Research Program has begun an ambitious project to develop a unique repository for MRI scan data from patients with chronic pain. The repository is targeted to eventually house data from over 1,000 subjects including brain scans and other key clinical information. The National Institutes of Health has provided a small start-up grant to fund the initial infrastructure for what is the first standardized database for brain imaging associated with chronic pain in the world. The Pain and Interoception Imaging Network (PAIN) Repository has already received the enthusiastic endorsement from broad group within the pain research community and scans are coming to the repository from many locations in the US and around the world. Access to the scans for state-of-the-art analyses is open to all PAIN members who have contributed data, and we are confident that over the next few years the PAIN repository will become a unique and highly valued resource for pain research.

For more information on the PAIN Repository,
visit the PAIN website at painrepository.org.