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Career Development in Biobehavioral Risk Factors for Pain: Sleep and the HPA Axis

NIH 1 K01NR011321-01A14/1/2010 - 3/31/2013

Sharon L. Kozachik

 Sharon L. Kozachik
Principal Investigator

Meet the Investigator

Sharon L. Kozachik, PhD, RN, JHU School of Nursing


There is a burgeoning and alarming body of evidence that testifies to the role of sleep loss in precipitating and perpetuating pain reports, and to the role of pain in precipitating and perpetuating sleep disturbance; 1 in 3 adults attribute a sleep loss of more than 20 hours each month due to pain. Given that our society has a rapidly growing sleep debt, secondary to lifestyles that reduce sleep opportunities, the implications of chronic sleep restriction on well being in general and pain in particular are immense.

The mechanisms that link together pain and sleep disturbance are not well understood, greatly limiting evidence-based strategies to ameliorate pain and sleep disturbance, and improve functioning and quality of life. The proposed career development award is the pivotal next step in the candidate’s long term goal to become an independent research scientist who conducts bedside-to-bench translational research in which the antecedents and consequences of pain, sleep disturbance, and other symptoms are mechanistically studied in the context of a variety of acute and chronic disease states within a controlled laboratory environment.

In order to accomplish this long term goal, the candidate must continue building her foundation in pre-clinical research through coursework in neuroimmunology and neuroscience, and additional mentoring and skills in a variety of rodent pain models and rodent sleep analysis. Throughout the career development award period, the candidate will work under the supervision of Dr. Gayle G. Page, Johns Hopkins University, and Dr. Mark R. Opp, the University of Michigan, experts in pre-clinical pain models and rodent sleep acquisition and analysis, respectively.

The specific aims of the research plan, using male and female rats, are to determine: (1) The effects of sleep restriction on paclitaxel-induced mechanical hypersensitivity; and (2) HPA axis responsivity of rats in sleep changes due to paclitaxel-induced mechanical hypersensitivity. Successful completion of the career development and research plans will foster the development of an independent scientist, poised to lead interdisciplinary teams in responding to the complex challenges of co-occurring pain and sleep disturbance.