For information about the process of applying to the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars Award in Pain, please see the U.S. Association for the Study of Pain website.

For information about the process of applying for the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars Award, apart from the Award in Pain program, please see the Scholars page of the Rita Allen Foundation website.

The 2024 Rita Allen Foundation Scholars Award in Pain: Application Open

Since 2009, the Rita Allen Foundation has provided a special award for early-career leaders in basic pain research whose work holds high potential for uncovering new pathways to improve the treatment of chronic pain.

The Foundation has awarded annually two grants or more in the amount of $150,000 over three years to early-career investigators pursuing innovative research that focuses on basic science mechanisms of pain.

Please see below for a list of recipients of the Scholars Award in Pain.

Eligible candidates will have completed their training and provided persuasive evidence of distinguished achievement or extraordinary promise in basic research in pain. Candidates should be in the early stages of their career with an appointment at the faculty level.

Proposed research projects should be directed toward investigating the molecular biology of pain and/or basic science topics related to developing new analgesics for managing pain. The entire award is made available to projects specifically chosen by the recipient; university overhead (i.e., indirect costs) is not supported.

Applications are reviewed by a selection committee that includes past Scholars Award in Pain recipients and other leading pain researchers.


To be eligible for the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars Award in Pain, the applicant must:

  • Have received committed start-up funds and independent laboratory space from their institution. (This information must be clearly indicated in the Department Chair/Division Chief’s letter of support for the candidate.)
  • Be within three years of the start date of a tenure track position or equivalent (senior postdocs and associate professors are not eligible).*
  • Conduct their research and be appointed at an institution in the United States or Canada.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to the field of pain research.

*If extenuating circumstances slowed your tenure trajectory (e.g., home-schooling children during the COVID-19 pandemic, other caregiving responsibilities, etc.) please get in touch with the U.S. Association for the Study of Pain (USASP) directly about your circumstance at admin@usasp.org. The determination of your eligibility will be at the discretion of the Rita Allen Foundation and the Scholars Award in Pain Selection Committee.

Applications will be open from October 18 – December 14, 2023. Completed applications must be submitted by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on December 14, 2023.

More information about applying for this award, offered in partnership with USASP, including a link to the application portal and detailed application guidelines and instructions, can be found on the USASP website: https://www.usasp.org/rita-allen-foundation-award-in-pain.

Past Rita Allen Foundation Scholars Award in Pain Recipients


Victoria Abraira
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Context is key: how spinal cord neuromodulators scale the pain experience

Seungwon (Sebastian) Choi
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Spinal output neurons: Novel therapeutic substrates for treating neuropathic pain
In conjunction with Margaret and William R. Hearst III

Emerson Krock
McGill University
Painful fibromyalgia autoantibodies through molecular mimicry with gut microbiota

William Renthal
Brigham and Women’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School
Targeted gene delivery to trigeminal nociceptors
In conjunction with Margaret and William R. Hearst III


Gregory Corder
University of Pennsylvania
Calibrating nociceptive dynamics in midbrain opiodergic circuits

Gwendolyn Hoben
Medical College of Wisconsin
Targeting muscle reinnervation effects on pain and spontaneous afferent activity
In conjunction with Margaret and William R. Hearst III

Aaron Mickle
University of Florida
Urothelial cell to sensory neuron signaling in bladder pain
In conjunction with Margaret and William R. Hearst III

Nicole Scheff
University of Pittsburgh
CGRP: The link between cancer pain and progression in oral squamous cell carcinoma


Ishmail Abdus-Saboor
University of Pennsylvania
Discovering Behavioral Signatures of Pain at Millisecond Timescales
In conjunction with the Open Philanthropy Project

Geoffroy Laumet
Michigan State University
Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Remission and Relapse of Pain

Sarah Linnstaedt
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
FKBP51 Inhibition to Prevent Chronic Pain Following Traumatic Stress
In conjunction with the Open Philanthropy Project

Andrew J. Shepherd
The University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Neuro-immune Interactions in Pain Associated with Cancer and Chemotherapy


Michael Burton
University of Texas at Dallas
Novel Models to Assess Sufficiency of Single Cell Paradigms in CB1R-Analgesia

Meaghan Creed
Washington University in St. Louis
Synaptic Adaptations Underlying Affective Symptoms of Chronic Pain

Peter Grace
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Antibody Receptor Signaling via Astrocytes: A New Pathway for Neuropathic Pain
In conjunction with the Open Philanthropy Project

Jordan McCall
Washington University in St. Louis
Using Persistent Homology to Model and Predict Spontaneous Pain Behavior
In conjunction with the Open Philanthropy Project

Vivianne Tawfik
Stanford University
Engaging Pro-resolution Microglia to Block the Transition to Chronic Pain
In conjunction with the Open Philanthropy Project


Helen C. Lai
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Understanding the Molecular and Developmental Basis of Painlessness

Candice E. Paulsen
Yale University
Uncovering the Regulation of TRPA1 by Irritants, Cofactors, and Proteins


Arkady Khoutorsky
McGill University
Extracellular Matrix-Mediated Spinal Cord Plasticity in Neuropathic Pain

Kyle Baumbauer
University of Kansas Medical Center
Targeting ASIC3 for Disruption of Nociceptor Sensitization following Spinal Cord Injury


Steve Davidson
University of Cincinnati
Thalamo-limbic Circuit Control of Pain

Katherine Hanlon
Presbyterian College
DRG Macrophages: Function and Impact on Nociception


Robert Sorge
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Immune System Modulation of Pain via Diet

Yi Ye
New York University
The Role of Schwann Cells in Neural Invasion and Associated Cancer Pain


Gregory Scherrer
Stanford University
Molecular Mechanisms of Opioid-Induced Analgesia, Tolerance and Hyperalgesia

Tuan Trang
University of Calgary
The Spinal Determinants of Arthritis Pain: Role of Microglia and P2X7 Receptors


Rebecca Seal
University of Pittsburgh
Mechanical Pain Circuits in the Dorsal Horn: A Role of VGLUT3 

Reza Sharif Naeini
McGill University
Role of Parvalbumin Neurons in the Dorsal Horn Pain Circuits 


Sarah Ross
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Investigating the Neural Circuits of Itch and Pain

Michael Jankowski
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Molecular Mechanisms of Muscoloskeletal Pain after Ischemic Tissue Injury 


Edgar Romero-Sandoval
Wake Forest School of Medicine
Spinal Cord Mechanisms in the Resolution of Postoperative Pain 

Yuan-Xiang Tao
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
Discovery of a Large Native Non-Coding RNA and Its Involvement in Neuropathic Pain 


Diana Bautista
University of California, Berkeley
Molecular Mechanisms of Somatosensory Mechanotransduction 

Seena Ajit
Drexel University College of Medicine
MicroRNA Regulation and Its Utility as Biomarkers in Neuropathic Pain 


Theodore J. Price
University of Texas at Dallas
Translations Regulation as a Novel Paradigm for Understanding Nociceptor Sensitization and Developing Analgesic Targets 

Steven A. Prescott
University of Toronto
Pain Processing by Neural Networks: A Critical Link between the Molecular and Perceptual Changes