New Frontiers in Pain Research
By: Howard Sharp, MD | Jul 2, 2018 7:30 AM
Howard Sharp, MD
I could not be more grateful for this amazing gift of a Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chair. My heart is very full and I’m deeply humbled. My connection with the Jon and Karen Huntsman family dates back to my teenage years when I played in a rock and roll band with their son, Jon Jr. (former Utah Governor and U.S. Presidential candidate, now Ambassador to Russia). I doubt that anyone who knew me then would have guessed I’d become a physician. I appreciate the Huntsman family for giving me this endowed chair and for all they do on behalf of the University of Utah, our community, and the world.
Like many of my colleagues, I spend most of my time in surgery with patients in the clinic, and use the weekends and evenings for research. I’m looking forward to having some protected time for work on chronic pelvic pain research and several quality initiatives.
Many men and women suffer from chronic pelvic pain. At University of Utah Health, we’re focused on specific areas of pain research. For example, vulvodynia and vulvar vestibulitis are particularly challenging to diagnose and treat. They cause a significant amount of pain and suffering for patients, and often have a significantly detrimental effect on their partners. We are providing clinical and surgical care with success, and hope to improve medical therapies in the future.
Additionally, we’re fortunate to have about 500 vestibulectomy specimens here at the U, and the Utah Population Database, a world-class genetics database that is helping understand more about vestibulitis patients. With Mike Varner in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and collaborators from Oregon Health Sciences, we are moving this work forward in hopes of identifying the genes behind these conditions. We are making great progress, and as we say in our department, “We will deliver.”
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