Principal Research Scientist, NeuRA
Director, Centre for Pain IMPACT
Associate Professor, Department of Neural and Pain Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Maryland, Baltimore
02 9399 1080
David A. Seminowicz, PhD, is Associate Professor in the Department of Neural and Pain Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Maryland, Baltimore and Principal Research Scientist as NeuRA. He received a BSc from the University of Guelph, a PhD at the University of Toronto and completed postdoctoral training at McGill University.
His work has focused on the cognitive aspects of pain, individual differences in the response to pain, and the consequence of chronic pain on brain structure and function. His studies have clarified how pain-related and cognitive-related brain activity interact and how passive and active pain coping strategies affect these types of activity. His work further suggested a brain mechanism through which chronic pain might affect cognitive ability and continues testing this hypothesis in intervention studies in people with chronic pain. The clinical populations in these studies include chronic low back pain, chronic and episodic migraine, and burning mouth syndrome.
Dr. Seminowicz has also used rodent MRI to ask a question that could not easily be addressed in humans, such as how the brain changes over time from before the onset of an injury that leads to chronic pain to the time when the disease affects cognitive and affective behaviors. Ongoing studies in Dr. Seminowicz’s lab employ longitudinal designs to assess how various interventions affect brain function, in human disease and rodent models. The main techniques in his lab include quantitative sensory testing, EEG, and structural and functional MRI. His main funding is from the NIH, and smaller projects are funding through intercampus initiatives, private foundations, and industry.
People in pain move differently. Yet, the biological basis for altered movement in pain is poorly understood. This lack of understanding has led to treatments for persistent pain that target generic symptoms with limited effect. This NHMRC-funded trial is the first to examine how different aspects of the nervous system are altered in pain and how this relates to movement. This information will guide the development of new treatment strategies for persistent pain in future.
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is the second most common musculoskeletal pain condition and is associated with pain and tenderness of the jaw. Although a number of biological factors have shown an association with chronic TMD in cross-sectional and case control studies, there are currently no biomarkers that can predict the development of chronic symptoms. Because of the difficulty in treating chronic pain, development of brain signal predictive biomarkers is of growing interest.
The PREDICT project will aim to develop a predictive biomarker signature of pain severity and duration using two commonly available techniques – electroencephalogram (EEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) – and perform initial clinical validation in first onset TMD. The biomarker could have utility in identifying patients at high risk of transitioning from acute to chronic pain and has additional potential for clinical application in the treatment and prevention of chronic pain.
This project will be carried out in collaboration with a team at the University of Maryland, Baltimore lead by A/Prof David Seminowicz (see more information here).
Seminowicz DA, Bilska K, Chowdhury NS, Skippen P, Millard SK, Chiang A, Chen S, Furman AJ, & Schabrun SM. (2020). A novel cortical biomarker signature for predicting pain sensitivity: protocol for the PREDICT longitudinal analytical validation study. Pain Reports, 5(4), e833. doi: 10.1097/PR9.0000000000000833