Pain Research Center – Clinical

Ajay Wasan, M.D., M.Sc. – Research

The research of Dr. Wasan is centered on understanding the great variability in treatment response in patients with chronic pain, seen in most populations with chronic painful illnesses.

There is little understanding of which patients respond best or least to various medications, nerve block procedures, or rehabilitation programs for chronic pain, such as chronic low back pain. His research focuses on whether comorbid psychiatric illness (a highly prevalent comorbidity) is an important predictor of pain treatment and a predictor of the neural patterns of brain activation associated with processing painful stimuli. He also has an interest in developing standardized measures (patient surveys and physical exams) to quantitatively describe the variability in symptoms and signs in patients with neuropathic pain. Quantitative sensory testing and functional MRI are important tools of physiological investigation Dr. Wasan incorporates into his studies. In his studies he often combines quantitative measures with qualitative research to provide a detailed description of the phenomena he studies. He has ongoing studies examining predictors of opioid analgesia, prescription opioid misuse, and nerve block response.He is also validating a method for standardized examinations in neuropathic pain.He has begun work using fMRI to describe neural activations patterns in the brain associated with chronic low back pain.His work is funded by NIH, industry, and private foundations.

Principal Investigator


Ajay D. Wasan, M.D., M.Sc. is an Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School

Select Recent Publications

  • Wasan AD, Taubenberger SP, Robinson WM. “Reasons for Participation in Pain Research: Can they Indicate a Lack of Informed Consent?” Pain Medicine, 2008 (accepted for publication)
  • Wasan AD, Fernandez E, Pham LD, Jamison RN, and Bhattacharyya N. “The association between anxiety, depression, and reported disease severity in chronic rhinosinusitis.” Annals of Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology, 2007: 116 (7): 491-7
  • Wasan AD, Butler SF, Budman SH, Benoit C, Fernandez K, Jamison RN. “Psychiatric History and Psychological Adjustment as Risk Factors for Aberrant Drug-Related Behavior among Patients with Chronic Pain”, Clin J Pain, 2007 23 (4): p. 307-15.
  • Michna E, Jamison RN, Pham LD, Ross EL, Janfaza D, Nedeljkovic SS, Narang SS, Palombi R, Wasan AD. “Urine Toxicology Screening Among Chronic Pain Patients on Opioid Therapy: Frequency and Predictability of Abnormal Findings”, Clin. J. Pain, 2007, 23(2): p.173-179
  • Wasan AD, Davar G, Jamison RN. “The Association between Negative Affect and Opioid Analgesia in Patients with Discogenic Low Back Pain”, Pain, 2005: 117: 450-61