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QiLiang “Q” Chen, MD, PhD, is a pain management anesthesiologist and system neuroscientist at Stanford University and VA Palo Alto Healthcare System (VAPAHCS). His research focuses on delineating the basic mechanism of chronic pain and characterizing the physiological changes in the descending pain-modulating circuits after head injury and other forms of trauma, a topic especially relevant to Veterans and other chronic post-traumatic pain sufferers. Clinically, his interests include integrating advanced image guidance in pain procedures and exploring novel pharmacological and minimally invasive interventions for chronic post-traumatic pain, complex headaches, and craniofacial pain conditions.
My research focuses on understanding the plasticity in pain-modulating circuits in pathological pain states. I started with defining a basic functional framework that links the pain-transmission system to the pain-modulation system, through which I explored the central mechanism of sensitization in chronic pain after a peripheral injury. Based on this fundamental observation, my work now focuses on investigating the pathophysiology and the role of endogenous opioids in chronic pain related to brain injury and other forms of trauma, a topic especially relevant to chronic post-traumatic pain sufferers. Clinically, I am exploring the use of advance image-guidance in pain interventions for treating complex headache and craniofacial pain. Ultimately, I hope to translate these fundamental knowledge and technologies to patient care and provide potential new therapeutic targets to help those with pain after head injury and polytrauma.