News Release

Ochsner Health physician granted NIH Trailblazer Award

Dr. Hernan Bazan honored for innovation in non-opioid drug development amidst the opioid crisis

Grant and Award Announcement

Ochsner Health System

Dr. Hernan Bazan


Dr. Hernan Bazan, an Ochsner Health physician and John Ochsner Endowed Professor of Cardiovascular Innovation

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Credit: Dr. Hernan Bazan

New Orleans, LA. - In response to the pressing need for new pain treatments during the opioid crisis, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has honored Dr. Hernan Bazan, an Ochsner Health physician and John Ochsner Endowed Professor of Cardiovascular Innovation, with the 2024 NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative® Director’s Trailblazer Award.

The 2024 Trailblazer Awards were part of the 5th Annual NIH HEAL Initiative® Meeting, which took place February 7-8, 2024, in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Bazan was granted this award for applying innovative approaches and creativity in research, expanding research into addressing the pain and opioid crisis in new directions.

Pain affects more than 51 million people in the United States and 20% of the world's population. The opioid crisis resulted in a staggering 112,000 deaths in 2023, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Existing pain medications have notable drawbacks: opioids pose a high risk of addiction and overdose, while non-opioid options such as acetaminophen and NSAIDs can cause liver toxicity, kidney issues and gastrointestinal complications with prolonged usage. Moreover, treatments for neuropathic pain have been associated with depressive symptoms, highlighting the pressing requirement for safer and more efficient alternatives.

Dr. Hernan Bazan, who is also the CEO and co-founder of South Rampart Pharma, Inc., presented the development of a new non-opioid drug candidate during the recent NIH HEAL Initiative meeting in a talk entitled "Beyond Opioids: SRP-001's Journey from Lab to Clinic." During the presentation, Dr. Bazan focused on SRP-001, a non-opioid small molecule that received Fast Track designation for acute pain from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2023. The talk underscored the critical need for cohesive action among NIH-supported biotechs, venture capital, and the pharmaceutical industry to solve the opioid crisis.

SRP-001 specifically targets the midbrain’s peri-aqueductal gray region without the toxicity risks associated with current pain medicines. The completion of a Phase 1 randomized clinical trial ( Identifier: NCT05484414) for SRP-001 showed its safety, tolerability, and robust pharmacokinetics, marking a significant step towards its use in treating acute and neuropathic pain.

Dr. Bazan stated, “The support from NIH leadership and the NIH’s small business office has been crucial in advancing SRP-001 to Phase 2 trials." He added, "This phase calls for increased collaboration between the pharmaceutical sector and financial investors focusing on CNS innovation to develop advanced pain treatments backed by strong science and clinical data.”

Pete November, the CEO of Ochsner Health, said, "Ochsner Health has a history of innovation and investing in ventures whose mission closely aligns with ours. Through Ochsner Ventures, we are proud to support the work of Dr. Bazan and South Rampart Pharma, Inc., as they aim to find more effective and safer treatments for pain. This recognition by the NIH confirms the importance of Dr. Bazan’s work, and we are honored for the chance to invest in their mission."

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  1. Bazan HA et al. “Transcriptomic signature, bioactivity and safety of a non-hepatotoxic analgesic generating AM404 in the mid-brain PAG region” Nature Comm 2024 DOI:

Research reported in this news release is supported by the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative under award numbers 5R42NS119103-03 and 2SB1NS119103-04. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.




About Ochsner Health

Ochsner Health is the leading not-for-profit healthcare provider in the Gulf South, delivering expert care at its 46 hospitals and more than 370 health and urgent care centers. For 12 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has recognized Ochsner as the No. 1 hospital in Louisiana. Additionally, Ochsner Children’s has been recognized as the No. 1 hospital for kids in Louisiana for three consecutive years. Ochsner inspires healthier lives and stronger communities through a combination of standard-setting expertise, quality and connection not found anywhere else in the region. In 2023, Ochsner Health cared for more than 1.5 million people from every state in the nation and 65 countries. Ochsner’s workforce includes more than 38,000 dedicated team members and over 4,700 employed and affiliated physicians. To learn more about how Ochsner empowers people to get well and stay well, visit

About South Rampart Pharma, Inc.

South Rampart Pharma, Inc. is a clinical-stage life science company dedicated to advancing the safe treatment of pain by developing first-in-class novel small molecule solutions1 that overcome many risks associated with current pain medicines. The Company’s pipeline of novel compounds includes its lead clinical asset, SRP-001, which is a First-in-Class non-opioid novel small molecule with FDA Fast-Track Designation that targets the midbrain’s PAG region without opioids’ abuse risk, acetaminophen’s liver toxicity, and NSAIDs’ kidney toxicity2.  A recently completed Phase 1 randomized clinical trial demonstrated its safety, tolerability, and robust pharmacokinetics [ Identifier: NCT05484414], opening the clinical development pathway towards acute and neuropathic pain.

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