Dr. Linda R. Watkins, a distinguished professor in the department of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado at Boulder, will deliver the 2015 NIDCR Seymour J. Kreshover Lecture on Monday, May 4 at 2 p.m. in Lipsett Amphitheater, Bldg. 10. She will speak on “Targeting Glia to Treat Chronic Pain: Moving from Concept to Clinical Trials.”
Watkins is a University of Colorado president’s teaching scholar and director of the interdepartmental neuroscience Ph.D. program. Her research is focused on how to control chronic pain and increase the effectiveness of analgesics while minimizing their side effects. When non-neuronal cells known as glia are activated, they can create persistent, amplified neuroinflammation, thereby promoting the transition from acute to chronic pain. Watkins’ work has shown that glial activation can also compromise the ability of opioids to suppress chronic pain, contributing to the development of drug tolerance and dependence.
Her findings have advanced our understanding of how therapeutics that target a specific glial activation receptor are effective stand-alone treatments for chronic pain and can also increase the efficacy of opioids while decreasing analgesic tolerance and dependence. Two such drugs, developed in the Watkins lab, are moving toward clinical trials.
Watkins earned her doctorate in physiology and received postdoctoral training at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. At the University of California, Davis, she pursued postdoctoral training and was an adjunct lecturer and assistant research neurophysiologist. Watkins then joined the University of Colorado at Boulder as a research associate and later became part of the faculty.
In addition to NIDCR research grants, she has been awarded grants from NIDA, NIMH and NINDS. She has coauthored numerous scientific book chapters and peer-reviewed articles. Her many awards include the Pioneer in Pain Award from the Western Pain Society in 2012, Prince of Asturias Award for Technical & Scientific Research in Spain in 2010 and the Clinical Science Award & Lectureship from the Karolinska Institute & Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm in 2007.
The Kreshover Lecture was established by NIDCR as a tribute to the late director of the (then) National Institute of Dental Research (1966–1975). Lectures are delivered by investigators who have made significant contributions to research that affects the dental, oral and craniofacial field.
Watch the lecture online at http://videocast.nih.gov/. Sign language interpretation will be provided. Individuals who need reasonable accommodation to participate should contact Mary Daum, Mary.Daum@nih.gov or (301) 594-7559. For details, visit www.nidcr.nih.gov/NewsAndFeatures/Announcements/Kreshover-2015.htm.