The Power List 2020 – R&D Trailblazers
Gill Chair of Neuroscience and Professor, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
Career highlight: My discovery that cannabinoids acted at a neural level to suppress pain. I was alone in the laboratory one night with only an anesthetized rat for company when I saw, for the first time, that a cannabinoid turned off the firing of a neuron in the spinal cord that coded information about pain. That discovery set the stage for my research program over the next 20 years, which has focused on harnessing the therapeutic potential of the endocannabinoid system to suppress pain without unwanted side effects.
Lesson learned: To focus on important research questions that I am passionate about and that I hope will have a beneficial impact on human health. I believe that the technique needs to be subservient to the science, and not the other way around.
Goal: To identify and validate therapeutic strategies for suppressing pain that lack adverse side effects and abuse liability. With this end in mind, my lab has acquired multidisciplinary training and expertise in methods for studying pain and addiction and established collaborations with medicinal chemists and clinicians. I hope to accelerate progress in science, medicine and policy by enhancing translational science and its implementation as a means to improve human health.