Public Release: 

SLU scientist awarded special NIH grant to solve painkiller problem

Daniela Salvemini intends to take the side effects out of opioids

Saint Louis University


IMAGE: Daniela Salvemini, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and physiology at Saint Louis University, and her research team are pictured. view more

Credit: Saint Louis University

ST. LOUIS -- SLU pain researcher Daniela Salvemini has been awarded the NIH's Cutting-Edge Basic Research Award (CEBRA) to solve an alarming problem: pain killers that are capable of quelling terrible pain also carry debilitating side effects and significant risk of addiction.

This pain problem sets up a discouraging dilemma for patients and doctors. Opioid pain killers, like hydrocodone and morphine, can ease unbearable pain for those who are suffering. The price, however, can be side effects like nausea, vomiting, drowsiness or sedation, and psychological effects like euphoria, hallucinations or delirium. They also can lead to addiction and cause withdrawal symptoms once halted.

Aiming to solve problems like this one, the NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) designed the CEBRA Award to foster highly innovative or conceptually creative research related to drug abuse and addiction and how to prevent and treat these problems. It supports research that is high-risk and potentially high-impact. The highly competitive grants offer only one opportunity to apply, and the ideas that win are those that can revolutionize current thinking.

The two year $378,750 award will allow Salvemini, who is professor of pharmacology and physiology at SLU, to continue her work on opioids and search for new ways to mitigate their side effects while preserving their pain killing ability.

"I am simply happy about the award and continuing our work which I hope will help people in pain and alleviate human suffering. That's my mission," Salvemini said.


Read about Salvemini, whose career has been dedicated to studying pain and how to alleviate it:

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, liver disease, heart/lung disease, aging and brain disease, and infectious diseases.

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