External Consultant Board for the PSPP

The individual members of the Preclinical Screening Platform for Pain (PSPP) External Consultant Board (ECB) will provide independent input and oversight on strategy and implementation, including input on selecting new models, developing and monitoring screening flows, prioritizing targets and mechanisms for interrogation, and establishing milestones for program progress. As a link to the pain research community, the ECB will help the program to be more proactive in making adjustments and maintaining relevance as a unique community resource. The membership of this group should allow for some consistency over time as well as for ad hoc participation of individuals with expertise appropriate for specific programmatic matters.

Member Bios

photo of Donna Hammond

Donna L. Hammond, Ph.D. is Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Anesthesia in the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa. She holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Pharmacology. Dr. Hammond received her Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and completed postdoctoral training at the Mayo Clinic. After a seven year stint leading a program in analgesic drug development at G.D. Searle & Co. that resulted in two drugs moving to IND status, she transitioned back to academia at the University of Chicago in the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care. In 2000, she moved to the University of Iowa as Professor of Anesthesia and Pharmacology to help build an interdisciplinary pain research program. She is currently the Director of the University of Iowa Pain Research Program, which is supported by a T32 grant. From 2006 – 2010, Dr. Hammond served as Interim Head and Departmental Executive Officer for the Department of Pharmacology, and as Executive Associate Dean in the Carver College of Medicine between 2010 and 2015. She has long-standing research interests in the neurobiology of pain. These interests range from the role of the brainstem in the bidirectional regulation of pain sensitivity to the response of the central nervous system to peripheral injury. Recently, her research program has taken a translational turn with the implementation of a clinical trial based on preclinical findings in her laboratory concerning the efficacy of a nutritional supplement for the relief of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Dr. Hammond has enjoyed near-continuous support from the NIH since 1990. She is the recipient of a Young Investigator Award from the American Pain Society, the Bonica Award from the American Society for Regional Anesthesia, and the University of Iowa Regents Award for Faculty Excellence. She has served or serves as a permanent member and chairman of several review groups for the National Institutes of Health, and is a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Pain. Dr. Hammond is strongly committed to mentoring junior scientists and physician scientists, and to enhancing diversity in the biomedical sciences through her leadership of an NIH-funded post-baccalaureate research education program.


photo of Andrew Hershey

Andrew D. Hershey, MD, PhD, FAAN, FAHS, received a Bachelor of Science with Highest Distinction and Honors in Biochemistry degree from the University of Iowa followed by the MD/PhD program at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri. After earning his MD and PhD, Dr. Hershey was a resident in pediatrics, neurology and child neurology at St. Louis Children's Hospital and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, MO.

Dr. Hershey joined the faculty at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine, where he became the director of the Cincinnati Children’s Headache Center and is the Endowed Chair and Director of Neurology and a Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine.

Dr. Hershey's research interests currently include the improved diagnosis and treatment of childhood headache disorders, characterization of outcome responses, studies in new pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment regimes, and the genomics of migraines. Through a wide variety of projects, he has been NIH funded since 2003, including a PI with Dr. Scott Powers at CCHMC and Dr. Christopher Coffey at the University of Iowa of an U01 on the comparative effectiveness of amitriptyline and topiramate in the prevention of pediatric migraine.


photo of Jeffrey Kennedy

Jeffrey D. Kennedy received B.A. (Zoology) and Ph.D. (Microbiology/Immunology) degrees from the University of Iowa. Following postdoctoral training at Washington University, St. Louis where he studied regulatory T cell subsets and T cell development, and The Upjohn Company, where he developed and characterized one of the first rodent models of antigen-induced pulmonary inflammation as model of allergic asthma, Dr. Kennedy joined Wyeth and then later Eli Lilly as part of a career in pharmaceutical R&D spanning more than two decades.

Dr. Kennedy is a successful leader with extensive pharmaceutical R&D experience. He possesses in-depth knowledge of the drug discovery process, including target identification/validation, behavioral pharmacology and PK/PD, early clinical plan development, as well as portfolio prioritization/optimization and strategic planning. Dr. Kennedy boasts broad, proven scientific expertise and therapeutic leadership spanning immunology/autoimmunity, pulmonary inflammation, and neuroscience, particularly pain pathophysiology and neuroinflammation, as reflected by advancement into clinical development of numerous novel drug candidates.

At Wyeth, Dr. Kennedy held a variety of positions of increasing responsibility, including Director of Pain drug discovery research within Neuroscience Discovery. As a Senior Research Fellow at Lilly, Dr. Kennedy led a behavioral pharmacology group that provided broad support for the pain preclinical portfolio. In addition, he served as Lilly’s primary interface with the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) Europain Consortium, an EU-funded public private partnership involving several pharma and many of the top pain basic and clinical research groups across Europe. Dr. Kennedy currently works both as an independent biopharma consultant and as vice president of intellectual property/bioventures at a NYC-based investment firm, Summer Road LLC. In addition, he serves as grant reviewer on the NINDS Drug Discovery for the Nervous System (DDNS) study section and sits on both NIH and FDA (ACTTION) committees focused on issues impacting pain basic research, drug discovery and clinical translation.


photo of Daniela Salvemini

Daniela Salvemini Ph.D, is Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. She is also the Director of the SLU Center for Neuroscience and Fellow of the Saint Louis Academy of Science. She received her B.Sc from Kings College in London and her Ph.D. from the University of London under the mentorship of the Nobel Laureate Professor Sir John Vane FRS.

Dr. Salvemini spent over a decade in the private sector prior joining SLU where she led drug discovery efforts on anti-inflammatories and analgesics. Her lab uses a multidisciplinary basic science driven translational approach to identify novel non-narcotic analgesics for the treatment of chronic pain as stand-alone or as adjunct to opioids. Dr Salvemini’s research achievements are reflected in over two hundred peer-reviewed papers and book chapters (2018 h index of 69 with >18,000 citations) and several awards including the Fellows Awards from the Saint Louis Academy of Science, Outstanding Scientist Award. She is a reviewer for several scientific journals, a grant reviewer for the NIH and private foundations. Her lab is funded by grants from the NIH, foundations and the private sector.


photo of Gregory Scherrer

Grégory Scherrer, PharmD, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill in the Departments of Cell Biology and Physiology, of Pharmacology, and UNC Neuroscience Center. Since 2017, Dr. Scherrer is a NYSCF – Robertson Neuroscience Investigator. Dr. Scherrer received his PharmD and PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Strasbourg, France, in 2005. He then completed postdoctoral trainings at UCSF and Columbia University, studying the neurobiology of pain, and the physiology of the spinal cord dorsal horn, respectively. In 2012, Dr. Scherrer joined the faculty at Stanford University as an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Anesthesiology, Molecular and Cellular Physiology, and a member of the Stanford Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute, until he joined UNC in September 2019. His lab investigates the organization of the neural circuits and molecular mechanisms that underlie pain perception and the effects of opioids. His team studies the sensory, affective and cognitive dimensions of pain, and both the analgesic and side effects of opioids including addiction and respiratory depression. His lab uses experimental approaches that include molecular and cellular biology techniques, genetics and multiomics, neural circuit tracing, electrophysiology, recording and opto/chemogenetic modulation of neural activity, and behavioral assays. Dr. Scherrer’s long-term goal is to develop innovative therapeutics to mitigate opioid side effects and to treat pain more effectively and safely.


photo of Bavani Shankar

Ms. Bavani G. Shankar is a senior business development executive with over 20+ years of successful track record in both pharma and biotech companies. She received her MBA from Columbia University, New York. She is currently VP, Corporate Operations at BioHaven Pharmaceuticals. From 2012 to 2022, she held various global roles at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, with the most recent being Head of Transactions, Biopharmaceuticals R&D. Prior to that, she was Vice President, Corporate Development at PsychoGenics Inc.

Over her career, her responsibilities have included identification, evaluation, diligence and transactions on programs for licensing and collaborations across multiple therapeutics areas, including neuroscience. She has also been responsible for leading both preclinical and clinical programs and alliance management of existing partnerships.


photo of Steve Negus

Steve Negus earned his PhD in Neurobiology from the University of North Carolina in 1990, and he held positions at the Scripps Research Institute (1990-91), University of Michigan (1991-93), and Harvard Medical School (1993-2007) before taking his current position as a professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007.

Dr. Negus has more than 30 years of experience in preclinical assessment of candidate analgesics, preclinical abuse liability testing, and translational research to evaluate candidate medications for treatment of stimulant and opioid abuse. For the past 15 years, one major focus of his research has been in the development and validation of novel preclinical procedures to assess the expression and treatment of pain-related behavioral depression. A second recent focus of his research has been on determinants of abuse potential for opioid-analgesics.


photo of Ursula Wesselmann

Ursula Wesselmann is a Neurologist and Neurophysiologist by training. She currently serves as a Professor of Anesthesiology, Neurology and Psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and holds the William A. Lell, M.D.–Paul N. Samuelson, M.D., Endowed Professorship in Anesthesiology.

Over the last 20 years she has been the Principal Investigator of a translational (‘from bench to bedside and reverse’) research laboratory focusing on the neurobiological mechanisms of chronic pain syndromes in women, funded by NIH grants (NICHD, NINDS, NIDDK, NCI, NIDA and ORWH), private foundations and industry collaborations. Her laboratory is investigating the pathophysiological mechanisms of urogenital and pelvic pain syndromes in females. A new area of investigation is to determine the biological, psychological, and socio-cultural variables contributing to persistent pain in breast cancer survivors. The long-term goal of her research program is to translate new discoveries into clinical practices that improve the ability to diagnose and treat women experiencing chronic pain.

Prior to joining UAB, Dr. Wesselmann served on the Johns Hopkins University faculty from 1995-2008 as an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology with secondary appointments in Neurological Surgery and Biomedical Engineering, where she established a research program in chronic pain and women’s health and served as an Attending Neurologist at the Johns Hopkins Blaustein Pain Treatment Center. She was born in Germany where she earned her MD and PhD degrees from the Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel. In addition, she holds a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (DTM&H) from the London School of Tropical Medicine in Great Britain. She completed postdoctoral training in the Department of Physiology at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, neurology residency training at the University of Chicago, and fellowship training in pain management at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA and at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD.

Dr. Wesselmann was elected as a Fellow to the American Neurological Association. In 2010 she was appointed as a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee responsible for preparing the landmark 2011 report on "Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research", which addressed the current state of the science with respect to pain research, care and education in the USA.