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November 3, 2009

SIU Med School Receives NIH Grant to Study Chronic Pain Treatment

A scientist at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield has been awarded a five-year federal grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, a division of the National Institutes of Health, to study a new chronic pain treatment.  The total budget for the grant is $1,404,510.

Louis Premkumar, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology, is the principal investigator for the project.

The research will study a new drug, Resiniferatoxin (RTX), as a potential treatment for chronic, debilitating, terminal pain in patients such as those with bone cancer or large mass abdominal cancer where other drugs are not effective.  Currently the only treatment for patients with chronic pain is morphine which has severe side effects.  RTX is administered directly into the spinal cord to treat chronic pain.

This is Premkumar’s fourth federal grant for his research, which totals $3.2 million.  His other research area focuses on diabetes and obesity.

Premkumar joined the SIU faculty in 1999.  He completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience at John Curtin School of Medical Research in Australia (1994).  Premkumar earned his doctoral degree at the Australian National University (1992) and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees at the University of Madras (1981, 1978).