Researcher receives award for pain research

Dr. Aaron Mickle

Dr. Aaron Mickle in his laboratory.

Dr. Aaron Mickle, an assistant professor in the college’s department of physiological sciences, has received the Rita Allen Foundation Award in Pain for his research aimed at developing treatments for interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome.

The award recognizes emerging experts in basic pain research whose work holds high potential for uncovering new pathways to improve the treatment of chronic pain and consists of $50,000 per year over three years and is given to early-career investigators who are pursuing innovative research on mechanisms that initiate and propagate pain in the nervous system.

“With very few effective treatment options, interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome is a devastating disease,” Mickle said. “This is partly due to a lack of understanding of basic mechanism and interaction of cell types in the bladder.”

Mounting evidence shows that abnormal cell signaling within the bladder wall plays a role, he said, adding that his proposal aims to study the interaction between the cells that line the bladder, known as urothelial cells, and the neurons that send pain signals to the brain.

“Understanding how normal physiology works and how this is disrupted will hopefully provide us with drug targets to treat chronic bladder pain,” Mickle said.

Chronic pain has always interested Mickle both personally and professionally, as it is such a common experience.

“It affects everyone, including myself, as I tragically had a family friend end his own life because of intractable pain,” he said. “I am passionate about helping with chronic pain and about continuing my career with the goal of developing novel therapies that make a positive impact on peoples’ lives.”


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March-April 2022

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