Yuan-Xiang Tao (Award in Pain Recipient) earned B.Sc., M.Sc. and M.D. degrees from Nanjing Medical University, and holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Shanghai Brain Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, where he studied the role of postsynaptic density proteins in chronic pain and anesthesia. Tao was a faculty member in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1999 to 2013, when he became a full professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Tao has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Blaustein Pain Research Fund, the David H. Koch Prostate Cancer Research Fund and the Brain Science Institute of Johns Hopkins Medicine. In 2017 he was selected for Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s Faculty of the Year Award, as well as an Excellence in Research Award from the New Jersey Health Foundation.
Tao’s research focuses on understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie chronic pain and opioid-induced analgesic tolerance and hyperalgesia. Research projects in his laboratory have attempted to address questions regarding different aspects of pain and opioid analgesia: 1) how protein translation is regulated under the conditions of chronic opioid tolerance and hyperalgesia; 2) how epigenetic modifications participate in the development and maintenance of chronic pain; and 3) how acute vaso-occlusive episodes induce and aggravate sickle cell disease-associated pain.