Focus on Pain Research

In 2018 the International Association for the Study of Pain revised the definition of pain to "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage." Pain is a critical national health problem with a tremendous clinical burden. Millions of Americans suffer from daily chronic pain and it is the main reason people seek medical attention or are out of work. NINDS supports ongoing efforts to understand the basic science of acute and chronic pain and develop new tools and treatments for pain patients. Additional general information about pain can be found at the NINDS Pain Hope through Research website.

NINDS is the lead institute for pain research at NIH and supports basic, translational, and clinical pain research to develop new and innovative advances in the pain field. NINDS leads the Executive Committee of the NIH Pain Consortium, which includes 23 Institutes and Centers. The NIH Pain Consortium identifies, coordinate, and supports pain research initiatives, activities, and strategic planning at NIH. NINDS also serves on the Executive Committee of the NIH Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, a group whose goal is to coordinate all pain research efforts within HHS and across other Federal Agencies  

Projects on pain research within NINDS’ mission do not need to be submitted to a pain-titled funding announcement and can be submitted to appropriate parent announcements. Please see a list of NINDS parent announcements for open funding opportunities.

Not sure what funding opportunity might be right for you? Try NIH Matchmaker

NINDS strongly encourages investigators to discuss their research interests with NINDS program staff prior to submitting their grant application. Visit the Find you NINDS Program Officer webpage to find the Program Officer most appropriate for your project. 

Pain conditions within NINDS’ mission include, but are not limited to:

  • Acute Pain
  • Chronic Pain
  • Headache
  • Migraine
  • Neuropathic pain not associated with cancer treatments or diabetes
  • Post-stroke pain
  • Amputee pain
  • Painful neuromas
  • Pain following traumatic brain injury
  • Pain associated with spinal cord injury
  • Pain associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
  • Pain associated with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Chronic overlapping pain conditions

Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Cellular and molecular research on the mechanisms of pain
  • Central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS) mechanisms of the perception and modulation of pain
  • Neurobiology of headache and migraine
  • Utilize human tissue to characterize the functional genetic elements, epigenetic signatures, and molecular/cellular pathways that contribute to pain
  • Development and validation of animal models of pain
  • Biomarker signatures of pain conditions and pain chronification
  • Development of translational neural devices to treat pain
  • Identify and validate novel therapeutic targets for pain
  • Development of non-addictive pain therapeutics
  • Fellowships and career development awards for pain scientists and clinical researchers

For examples of NINDS funded pain research grants please visit NIH Reporter.

NIH Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories 

Research/Disease Areas*

FY 2018
FY 2019^
FY 2020
FY 2021
FY 2022

Pain Research






^The FY 2019 actuals include obligations of over $400 million from FY 2018 carryover to support the Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative. These amounts, combined with obligations from FY 2019 annual appropriations, have a significant impact on Opioids, Opioids Misuse & Addiction, and Pain Research categories. This is a one-time spike in FY 2019 actuals, and FY 2020 actuals are proportionately lower since they reflect a single year of funding.

*Dollars in millions and rounded
To learn more about this NIH Investment, please visit the Categorical Spending site and enter "Pain Research".


NINDS and the HEAL Initiative:

NINDS is part of the NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative®, or the NIH HEAL Initiative®, an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. Please see HEAL Initiative Clinical Research Opportunities for more information and funding opportunities for clinical projects. Please visit the HEAL Initiative's Preclinical and Translational Research in Pain Management page for opportunities and funding announcements for preclinical projects.

For more information, please refer to the list of all HEAL Initiative open funding opportunities and NINDS’ Role in the HEAL Initiative website.



Research involving headache and migraine falls within the mission of NINDS. Funding for migraine research increased 43% from 2020 to 2021. 

Line graph showing annual support level in millions for Migraines research across NIH from FY2014-FY2021
Line graph showing annual support level in millions for Headaches research across NIH from FY2014-FY2021
Research/Disease Areas* FY 2019
FY 2020
FY 2021
Headaches $40 $42 $47
Migraines $28 $28 $40

*Dollars in millions and rounded
To learn more about this NIH Investment, please visit the Categorical Spending site and enter "Headaches" or "Migraines".

Sharing Pain Research Data:

NINDS strongly encourages researchers who receive funding from the Institute to use these common data elements (CDEs) in their clinical research.


Funding Opportunities with Upcoming Receipt Dates:


Resources and Tools


Michael Oshinsky, Ph.D.
Director, NINDS Office of Preclinical Pain Research

D.P. Mohapatra, Ph.D.
Program Director, Systems & Cognitive Neuroscience

Julia Bachman, Ph.D.
HEAL Program Manager, Systems & Cognitive Neuroscience

Elizabeth Sypek, Ph.D.
Health Program Specialist

Rachel Weinberg, Ph.D.
Health Program Specialist


Funding Opportunities

NINDS HEAL Funding Opportunities

NINDS Pain Funding Opportunities

See all NIH HEAL Funding Opportunities



Related Topics 

NINDS' Role in the HEAL Initiative

NIH HEAL Initiative

NIH Pain Consortium

Director's Message on Pain Awareness Month

Federal Pain Research Strategy