Board of Directors


Michael S. Gold, Ph.D., is a Professor of Neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Gold received his B.A. from UC Berkeley, Ph.D. from UCLA, and was postdoctoral fellow with Jon Levine at USCF.  For the last twenty years, Gold’s research focused on the neurobiology of pain.  He has made important contributions to injury-induced plasticity in nociceptive afferents, and their contribution to the manifestation of persistent pain. Toward this end, he has employed an array of approaches ranging from the study of isolated cells to the development of novel behavioral assays with which to assess the presence of persistent hypersensitivity, and more recently the study of clinical populations suffering from persistent pain. Dr. Gold has been actively involved in the greater pain community where he was a member of Council for the International Association for the Study of Pain (2012-2018) and a member of the executive committee of the North American Pain School (2015-2019). He was the Chair of the Scientific Program Committee for the American Pain Society (2017) and the International Association for the Study of Pain (2018) and received the F.W.L. Kerr award for basic science research in 2016.

DISCLOSURE: Grunenthal (non-publicly traded entity) 

John T. Farrar, MD, PhD. is a Professor of Epidemiology (primary), Neurology (secondary), and Anesthesia (secondary) at the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) at the University of Pennsylvania.  He received his MD from the University of Rochester, and MSCE and PhD in pharmacoepidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania.  He has been a funded investigator in clinical research for over 25 years with a major focus on studies of the efficacy of pain therapeutics and design of pain clinical trials. As a neurologist and a pharmacoepidemiologist, he has been involved in numerous studies including randomized trials (RCTs), cohort studies, and methodologic studies of pain and associated symptoms, making important contributions to the measurement, analysis, and interpretation of pain related studies.  At the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, he has co-directed the Biostatistical Analysis Center and for 15 years the Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology (MSCE) program, a two-year masters program focused on training 25-30 fellows per year to launch their careers as independently funded scientists in clinical research.  In his mentoring role he has worked with a diverse group of more than 25 fellows, been primary mentor on several career development awards and teaches courses in health measurement, clinical trials, and grant writing.  He currently is a member of multiple Special Interest Groups in the IASP and was previously the co-Director of the Pain Measurement SIG for the APS as well as a member of the APS board.


DISCLOSURES: Vertex Pharam (consulting fees), Lilly (consulting fees)


Yenisel Cruz-Almeida MSPH, Ph.D. was born in La Habana, Cuba. She completed a B.Sc. degree in Microbiology & Cell Science in 2001. In 2004 she completed her master’s degree in Epidemiology & Public Health with a concentration in Biostatistics, and in 2011, her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami MILLER School of Medicine. As a postdoc, she focused on pain phenotyping including investigating age and pain-related biomarkers of immune function at the University of Florida. Yenisel is currently a tenured Associate Professor in the Departments of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Sciences, Epidemiology and Neuroscience in the Colleges of Dentistry & Medicine. Dr Cruz-Almeida also serves as the Associate Director of the UF Pain Research & Intervention Center of Excellence and the Core Leader of the Pilot & Exploratory Studies Core of the UF Older American Independence Pepper Center. She is the Course Director of various pain (Neurobiology of Pain, Science and Clinical Management of Dental Pain), and translational research (Clinical Translational Sciences Journal Club) courses.




Jessica Merlin, M.D., Ph.D., is a physician and behavioral scientist and NIH-funded clinician-investigator. Her research includes foundational work on the pathophysiology, clinical epidemiology, and behavioral management of chronic pain in people with HIV. This work has extended to management approaches to pain and opioid misuse/use disorder in individuals with serious illness in palliative care settings. She has been recognized nationally for her work with three Young Investigator awards from relevant societies, an Inspirational Leader Under 40

Award from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and a Cambia Foundation Sojourns Scholar Leadership Award.

DISCLOSURES: Grant recipient, Cambia Health Foundation (non-publicly traded entity)



Staja "Star" Booker, PhD, RN is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at the University of Florida (UF). Dr. Booker received her BSN from Grambling State University, M.S. from Penn State University, Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, and was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Roger Fillingim at the UF. For nearly 10 years, Star’s research has focused on pain disparities, using mixed methods to understand the management of pain in older adults. Currently, her work is phenotyping movement-evoked pain by identifying biopsychosocial-behavioral predictors in older African Americans and White Americans. She has made significant contributions to the assessment of pain in older adults and to understanding the lived experience of older African Americans with persistent pain. An engaged scientist, she has contributed to over 35 peer-reviewed articles, 6 book chapters, and nearly 70 research abstracts and scientific presentations. She has received numerous awards and publication accolades. Dr. Booker is actively involved in several organizations such as the International Association for the Study of Pain, American Society for Pain Management Nursing, the Gerontological Society of America, and the American Nurses Association.



Andrea Nackley, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology’s Center for Translational Pain Medicine (CTPM) at Duke University School of Medicine. She is Director of the Translational Pain Research Laboratory, where her program marries pain neurobiology, behavioral pharmacology, and molecular genetics in mouse and man to to better understand mechanisms of and identify treatments for chronic ‘primary’ overlapping pain conditions. Her lab was the first to demonstrate a critical role for peripheral adrenergic receptor beta-3 in the development of chronic pain and neuroinflammation, which remains a primary research focus. In recognition of her research and scholarly activity in the pain field, Dr. Nackley received the John C. Liebeskind Early Career Scholar Award in 2010 from the American Pain Society. She has remained actively engaged in the pain community, serving as Co-Chair of the American Pain Society’s Genetics and Pain Special Interest Group, Member of the Nominating Committee, and Chair of the Early Career Forum. She is an Associate Editor for Frontiers in Pain Research and Member of the USASP Board of Directors. In her role on the Board of Directors, she will work to emphasize translational aspects of basic science research and education as well as to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in line with the vision of the USASP.



Rachel Zoffness, Ph.D. is a pain psychologist, medical educator, and leader in the field of pain education. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor at UCSF, a Visiting Professor at Stanford, and a Mayday Fellow. Dr. Zoffness is the author of The Pain Management Workbook, a treatment protocol for adults and healthcare providers, and The Chronic Pain and Illness Workbook for Teens, the first pain workbook for kids. She has served on the boards of the U.S. Association for the Study of Pain, The American Association of Pain Psychology, and the Society of Pediatric Pain Medicine, and consults on the development of integrative pain programs around the world. A passionate pain educator, her pain science podcast episodes have over 5 million downloads. Dr. Zoffness was trained at Brown, Columbia, UCSD, NYU, and Mt. Sinai Hospital.




Ericka Merriwether, P.T., D.P.T., Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Physical Therapy and Medicine and is the Director of the Inclusive and Translational Research in Pain Laboratory (I-TRIP) at New York University. The goal of her research is to identify targets for culturally responsive, multimodal interventions for chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain in adults with a diversity of body sizes and phenotypes. To achieve this goal, Dr. Merriwether's current projects focus on identifying key biopsychosocial and socioecological drivers of pain variability,  and how these candidate drivers of pain variability respond to weight change. This highly interdisciplinary work employs a variety of clinical and translational research methodologies. Also, Dr. Merriwether is a proud native of Chicago’s Austin Community on the city’s West side, and is the mother of two amazing children.

Dr. Merriwether earned her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She went on to earn her DPT from the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences, and her PhD in Movement Science from Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Merriwether completed postdoctoral fellowship in pain neuroscience in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science at the University of Iowa prior to her current faculty appointment. Her research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Foundation for Physical Therapy, and most recently, the NYU CoHRR. Dr. Merriwether has several publications in pain and rehabilitation journals, and currently serves as an Editorial Board member for the Journal of Pain, Frontiers in Pain Research, and the Neurobiology of Pain. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the United States Association for the Study of Pain (USASP), has served as an Early Career Reviewer for the Neurobiology of Pain and Itch Study Section at NIH, and is an executive member of the Anti-racism CoaliTION in Pain Research (ACTION-PR). 



Benjamin Lee, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Pediatric Anesthesiology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.  He is the Division Chief of Pediatric Pain Medicine in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, Texas.  Dr. Lee received his B.A. from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, his M.D. from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and his MPH degree from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. He completed an Internship in General Surgery at the University of California-San Diego Medical Center, residency in Anesthesiology at the University of North Carolina Hospital in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and a postdoctoral fellowship in Pediatric Anesthesiology from the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. He has board certification in Anesthesiology, Pediatric Anesthesiology, and Hospice and Palliative Medicine.  Over the last 25+ years, he has been an active clinician, educator, and clinical researcher in pediatric pain medicine, pediatric anesthesiology, and pediatric hospice and palliative medicine.  His research has been in the fields of patient safety, treatment of pediatric chronic pain conditions, safe use of medications for the treatment of pain, and in human factors safety in medicine, especially in low and middle-income countries (LMIC). His research interests are in the areas of clinical trials, patient safety, and opioid stewardship as well as improving health systems infrastructure, access to care, and clinical outcomes measurement. Dr. Lee has served on the Scientific Program Committee, the Annual Assembly Meeting Program Planning Committee, the Research Committee, and the Quality and Practice Standards Committee for the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM). He has previously served on the Committee for Pain Medicine for the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) as well as currently serving on the Committee for Palliative Medicine for the ASA. He was also a member of the Advocacy Work Group for the American Pain Society. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors (BOD) of the Society for Pediatric Pain Medicine (SPPM) as well as the Chair for the Research Committee for the SPPM.



Daniela Maria Menichella, MD, PhD is a physician-scientist who graduated from the Neurology Residency Program at Northwestern University in Chicago and from the NIH R25 program. She secured a K08 career development award and received an early-stage investigator NIH R01 grant. Dr Menichella is now an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Pharmacology at Northwestern University. She is a neurologist taking care of patients with painful peripheral neuropathy and acts as the director of the Peripheral Neuropathy Clinic and of the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association Center of Excellence. Dr Menichella is actively engaged in basic science and translational research, including NIH NeuroNext Clinical trails. She is the Principal Investigator of an NIH funded laboratory that investigates the molecular and physiological mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain in hereditary and acquired peripheral neuropathies with a particular focus on Painful Diabetic Neuropathy. Towards designing more effective therapeutics, Dr Menichella’s laboratory takes advantage of an integrated approach combining pain behavioral tests, electrophysiology studies including current-clamp recordings, in vitro and in vivo calcium imaging studies, confocal studies, chemogenetics and single-cell RNA sequencing with conditional and transgenic mouse models.  In addition to her work at Northwestern University, she serves in the Board of Directors of the Peripheral Nerve Society (PNS), and as a K Career Development physician-scientist mentor at the NINDS/American Neurological Association (ANA).  



Hadas Nahman-Averbuch, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the Washington University Pain Center and Division of Clinical and Translational Research at the Department of Anesthesiology, Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Nahman-Averbuch has obtained a B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Haifa and an M.Sc. and a Ph.D. from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. During her M.Sc. and Ph.D., she worked with Dr. David Yarnitsky at the Laboratory of Clinical Neurophysiology (Haifa, Israel) and specialized in pain modulation mechanisms in adults with chronic pain. Dr. Nahman-Averbuch completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (Ohio, USA) with Dr. Robert Coghill. During her fellowship, she focused on neuroimaging techniques to examine the neural changes in pediatric patients with chronic pain and in response to interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. In her Pain Across the Lifespan (PAL) lab she focuses on studieng the impact of sex hormones on pain during critical periods in life. 



Vitaly Napadow, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, where he is also the Director of the Center for Integrative Pain Neuroimaging (CiPNI). Dr. Napadow received his PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT and Harvard Medical School. Somatosensory, cognitive, and affective factors all influence the malleable experience of chronic pain, and Dr. Napadow’s Lab has applied human functional and structural neuroimaging to localize and suggest mechanisms by which different brain circuitries modulate pain perception. Dr. Napadow’s neuroimaging research also aims to better understand how non-pharmacological therapies, from acupuncture and transcutaneous neuromodulation to cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness meditation training, ameliorate these states. Dr. Napadow has more than 160 publications in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals, is past-President of the Society for Acupuncture Research, and serves on numerous conference, journal, and NIH review panels. He was recently named to the Academy Distinguished Investigator Council by the Academy for Radiology & Biomedical Imaging Research and received the Excellence in Integrative Medicine Research Award by the European Society for Integrative Medicine.

DISCLOSURES: Cala Health, Inc. (consulting fees)


Rebecca Seal, PhD is an Associate Professor, Departments of Neurobiology and Otolaryngology, Pittsburgh Center for Pain Research, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Studies in her laboratory are focused on delineating the neural circuitry underlying persistent pain, with the larger goal of developing chronic pain therapies targeted to the dorsal horn. Their work is largely funded by the National Institutes of Health. She became a Rita Allen Pain Scholar in 2013 and currently serves on the Rita Allen Leadership Committee. She is also on the Editorial Board for the Pain Research Forum /RELIEF, which are under the umbrella of IASP. At PRF, she initiated a monthly podcast series called, The Pain Beat, which features conversations among leading pain researchers on hot topics in the field. She also served on the Preclinical Pain Research Consortium for Investigating Safety and Efficacy, which produced a white paper on reproducibility and rigor in research (Andrews et al, Pain, 2016). She was a basic science representative on the USASP Organizing Committee and looks forward to promoting multidisciplinary integration within this society, building strong links between clinical, human and animal researchers. It is absolutely essential that patient care and experience shape and inform basic research. She is excited to participate in and help create new initiatives for the USASP that will promote interactions and a strong sense of community.