Apkar Apkarian

Professor of Physiology
Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine

“I am Professor of Physiology, Anesthesiology, and PM&R at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. Over the past two decades my lab has been devoted to unravelling the brain mechanisms underlying chronic back pain (CBP), which has culminated in over 50 papers and a current clinical trial designed to arrest the development of CBP. In the process we have developed sophisticated methodologies that can be readily extended to the other most burdensome chronic pain condition, knee osteoarthritis (OA). I have pioneered the use of brain imaging technology to delineate brain biomarkers of chronic pain, resulting in many “firsts” in and beyond the field of pain research: the first identification of grey matter atrophy related to chronic pain, the first account of brain activity unique to spontaneous fluctuations of chronic pain, the first characterization of brain resting state network abnormalities in chronic pain, the first determination of mesocorticolimbic biomarkers predicting pain chronification, the first parallel human-rodent neuroimaging of the transition to chronic pain, the first demonstration of the critical role of hippocampal synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis in neuropathic pain, the first identification of brain biomarkers for placebo response propensity, and more. These observations have been replicated across multiple international laboratories. With over 14,603 citations, my h index is 58. My laboratory’s ongoing work translates these observations to human and rodent neuroimaging studies that explore the disruption of emotional learning in subacute and chronic pain. It has become clear to me that prevention and treatment of chronic pain require aggressive and creative research to disentangle the mesocorticolimbic circuitry. This work would not have been possible without the enthusiasm, creativity, and persistence of the large number of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows whom I have trained.”

Participant In:


Saturday, February 11th, 2017 at 2:30pm

Past Event

Wisdom comes alone through suffering. Still there drips in sleep against the heart, grief of memory. – Aeschylus, Agamemnon What is it to feel pain? We sense it in the body, as a non-trivial, unmediated and imperative perceptual event associated with tissue damage, possessing particular spatiotemporal characteristics of a physical object (e.g., location, quantity, intensity,… read more »