NSF CAREERpic_mems

Introduction

     Not to confuse with the public radio station, research at NPR is focused on the sensory encoding and processing of the peripheral nervous system. Particular interests are given on 1) how the sensory afferent neurons detect and transmit pain-related sensory information, 2) the peripheral mechanisms that underlie the sensory aberrations in chronic pain and 3) translating scientific discoveries into next-generation neuromodulatory strategies and devices that target peripheral nerves/neurons as non-drug alternatives for managing chronic pain.

     One in every three adults in the USA suffers from at least one type of chronic pain (Portenoy, 2004). Pain clinicians will tell you that there are treatment options to mitigate most types of chronic pain, but not for visceral pain. Drugs that work for other types of pain are generally ineffective at managing visceral pain. Clinicians can quickly exhaust their means at treating patients with chronic visceral pain. Considering this unmet clinical need, NPR lab's top priority of study is chronic visceral pain, one of the most frequent reasons for patients to seek medical attention.

visceral_innervate
sensory innervation of the viscera

     We employ a multi-disciplinary approach that includes 1) experimental studies on the sensory nerve endings by in vitro electrophysiology and biomechanics of visceral tissue, 2) state-of-the-art molecular biology and generic knock-out/knock-in mouse models, and 3) computational simulations and rigorous mathematical analysis that integrates the experimental findings to deepen the theoretical understanding of visceral afferent encoding and sensitization. As biomedical engineers, we are also enthusiastic in engineering the next generation tools for neuroscience studies in general and chronic pain management in particular.

NPR News

NPR is hiring! Positions available for 2 post-doc and multiple PhD students. See "Positions" page for more details. If interested, please contact Dr. Feng directly (fengb@uconn.edu).

Sept 2019: Dr. Feng (PI) and Dr. Guoan Zheng (co-I) have received a $2 million NIH U01 award to map visceral nociceptors in thoracolumbar and lumbosacral dorsal root ganglions. 

Aug 2019: Dr. Feng (PI) along with Drs. David Pierce (co-I) and Sharareh Emadi (co-I) has received a $2 million NIH R01 award to study the role of lumbar splanchnic nerves in visceral nociception. 

Feb 2019: Dr. Feng (PI) has received a $560K NSF CAREER award entitled "Understanding peripheral neuromodulation to enhance non-drug management of chronic pain". 

June 2018: Drs. David Pierce (PI) and Feng (co-PI) received a study grant from Unilever Inc..

Feb 2018: Drs. Feng (PI) and Phil Smith (co-I) at UCH received a $160K NIH R03 grant entitled "Mechanisms of DRG stimulation to modulate visceral afferent function".

Dec 2017: Drs Martin Han (PI) and Feng  (co-I) received a DoD grant entitled "Focused ultrasound neural stimulation for spinal cord injury".

Sept 2017: Drs. Feng (PI) and David Pierce (co-PI) received a $430K NSF grant entitled "Understanding the multiscale mechanics of nerve endings to address visceral pain".

Mar 2017: Our undergraduate Dhruv Shah has received the $3,300 Summer Undergraduate Research Funds (SURF) from UCONN. Congratulations!

Feb 2017: Our undergraduate Dhruv Shah is among the top 5% applicants to be accepted into the prestigious  Harvard Summer Research Program in Kidney Medicine (HSRPKM). Congratulations!

Oct 2016: Drs. Feng and Santaniello from UConn BME hosted the 20th Annual Neuroscience at Storrs mini symposium.

Sept 2016: Dr. Feng (co-PI) and Dr. Lucas (PI) at UCONN School of Nursing received the CT Bio Pipline grant ($30K) for their project titled "A low cost portable device for breastfeeding diagnostic".

Aug 2016: Dr. Feng (PI) received a study grant ($114K) from Allergan Inc. to investigate the role of eluxadoline in treating IBS-related visceral pain.

July 2015: Dr. Feng (PI) had his NIH K01 grant transferred to UCONN and started the NPR lab.