UA’s Dr. Frank Porreca Honored by the International Association for the Study of Pain with the Ronald Melzack Lecture Award

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Frank Porreca, PhD, associate head of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, has been honored by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) with the Ronald Melzack Lecture Award.

The award was presented during IASP’s 16thWorld Congress on Pain®in Yokohama, Japan, attended by 4,400 of the world’s top pain researchers and clinicians from more than 90 countries. Dr. Porreca, who also has joint appointments as professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Anesthesiology, delivered the Ronald Melzack Distinguished Lecture, “Reward and Motivation in Pain and Pain Relief.”

The Ronald Melzack Lecture Award was created in 2010 by the IASP Council in honor of IASP Honorary Member Ronald Melzack, PhD, emeritus professor of psychology at McGill University, for his work and contributions to the science of pain. Award funding is provided by the Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation of Montreal, Canada, and the recipient is selected by the IASP Scientific Program Committee from among plenary presentations chosen for the Congress, identifying the lecture that best fits with the overall work of Dr. Melzack.

IASP Immediate Past President Rolf-Detlef Treede, Dr. med., said, “Dr. Porecca’s lecture on ‘Reward and Motivation in Pain and Pain Relief’ exemplifies the spirit of the Ronald Melzack Lecture Award by focusing on brain circuits involved in the rewarding effect of pain relief, their pharmacology and implications for the discovery of more effective and satisfying therapies for patients with acute or chronic pain.”

Dr. Porreca, who is known for his pioneering research on the molecular and circuit origins of chronic pain and discoveries that may lead to new treatments, leads the Arizona Pain Research Group and is a member of the UA Cancer Center’s Cancer Biology Program and the Arizona Institute for Clinical and Translational Science. He has been interested in the evaluation of affective dimensions of pain and in mechanisms that promote chronic pain. His work has identified maladaptive plasticity in descending pain modulatory circuits, in reward and motivation circuits, and the contributing role of stress to sustaining chronic pain. Additionally, Dr. Porreca has demonstrated the impact of chronic pain on emotional learning.

Dr. Porreca is the third recipient of the Ronald Melzack Lecture Award, joining David Yarnitsky, MD (Israel), 2014, and Luis-Garcia Larrea, MD, PhD (France), 2012.

About the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP)

The International Association for the Study of Pain brings together scientists, clinicians, health-care providers and policymakers to stimulate and support the study of pain and to translate that knowledge into improved pain relief worldwide. IASP has more than 7,000 members in 133 countries, 94 national chapters and 20 Special Interest Groups (SIGs). For more information visit:

About the UA College of Medicine – Tucson

The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson is advancing health and wellness through state-of-the-art medical education programs, groundbreaking research, and advancements in patient care in Arizona and across the United States. Founded in 1967, the College ranks among the top medical schools in the nation for research and primary care and is leading the way in academic medicine through its partnership with Banner – University Medicine, a new division of one of the largest nonprofit health-care systems in the country. For more information:

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences

The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. The UA Health Sciences includes the UA Colleges of Medicine (Phoenix and Tucson), Nursing, Pharmacy and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the growing Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, the UA Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona and the greater Southwest to provide cutting-edge health education, research, patient care and community outreach services. A major economic engine, the UA Health Sciences employs almost 5,000 people, has nearly 1,000 faculty members and garners more than $126 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information:

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