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Westlund High, Karin N Faculty Member


Karin N. Westlund High, PhD Professor (tenured) and Vice-Chair for Research Department of Anesthesiology & Critical Care Medicine; Secondary Appointment in Department of Neuroscience, University of New Mexico School of Medicine Albuquerque, NM 87106 My overall research career aim is to stop pain, through pursuit of pain relief mechanisms and development of therapies for testing in chronic neuropathic pain models. We have patented two non-opioid small single chain (scFv) antibodies that significantly inhibit targets upregulated in chronic neuropathic pain. Single dose of one antibody returns pain-, anxiety-, and depression-like behaviors to baseline. The project has received NIH, DoD, and VA Merit grant funding. My previous studies have been continuously funded and appear in 182 published manuscripts, cited 11,645 times (H-Index 63). Live cell calcium and ROS imaging, neurochemical, gene therapy, molecular, pharmacological, electrophysiological, fMRI, behavioral, immunocytochemical, cell culture, and neuropathological approaches are utilized. Major findings include shared discovery of previously unknown (1) visceral pain pathways with collaborating neurosurgeons, (2) feedforward neurogenic loops (“vicious cycles”) induced in peripheral sensory nerves and the spinal cord amplifying both inflammation and pain, and (3) switch from inhibition to facilitation of pain and anxiety related behaviors during the transition from acute to chronic pain states. Studies were done with assistance of six graduate PhD students, 15 postdoctoral, resident, medical and dental fellows, and senior scientists. I have provided numerous contributions to education, primarily in Medical and Dental Neuroscience courses. I held President’s Research Professorship, at the University of Kentucky (2009—2017) and received the Frederick W.L. Kerr Career Research Award, American Pain Association 27th American Pain Society Meeting, “Stopping Pain in Its Tracks”, Tampa, Florida, May 10, 2008. From 2005 – present I have served as Associate Editor/ Reviewer for PAIN (official journal for the International Association for the Study of Pain).