Department of
Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine

Ajay D. Wasan, MD, MSc

  • Professor of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and Psychiatry
  • Vice Chair for Pain Medicine

Dr. Wasan is the Vice Chair for Pain Medicine in the Department of Anesthesiology at UPMC and a Visiting Professor of Anesthesiology and Psychiatry in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He has particular expertise in interventional procedures, neuropathic pain medications, opioids, psychotropic medication, and the psychiatric co-morbidities of chronic pain.

Dr. Wasan also supervises clinical care across seven hospital pain clinics in the UPMC system, 10 clinical faculty members, the Department of Anesthesiology Pain Medicine Fellowship Program, and all Division of Pain Medicine research. This research is funded from a variety of sources, such as the National Institutes of Health and industry funds. Dr. Wasan’s current research interests are in the areas of tracking pain treatment outcomes using electronic records, mechanism-based treatment studies of negative affect in pain, quantitative sensory testing, FMRI, and in preventing prescription opioid misuse in patients with chronic pain. His publications are in the general area of pain outcomes research, and cover topics such as opioid treatment, interventional treatments, neuropathic pain assessment, the brain physiology of chronic pain, and the impact of psychiatric factors on pain response.

Before coming to UPMC, Dr. Wasan was an Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He was also the Director of the Section of Clinical Pain Research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. In his clinical work, he saw patients at the Brigham and Women’s Pain Management Center, a multidisciplinary pain treatment center.

Education & Training

  • BA, BS, University of Illinois
  • MD, MSc, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
  • Fellowships in Interventional Pain Medicine and Clinical and Translational Science, Department of Anesthesiology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School

Representative Publications

Dr. Wasan's publications can be reviewed through the National Library of Medicine's publication database.

Research, clinical, and/or academic interests

Dr. Wasan’s current research interests are in the areas of tracking pain treatment outcomes using electronic records, mechanism-based treatment studies of negative affect in pain, quantitative sensory testing, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and preventing prescription opioid misuse in patients with chronic pain.  Since coming to Pittsburgh in 2013, Dr. Wasan has built a clinical and translational chronic pain research program new to the department, successfully mentored several junior faculty in the department who have since obtained independent funding, and obtained new external grant funding each year. He has authored and co-authored over 50 new research publications since coming to the University of Pittsburgh.

Current Research Projects

  • Use of Extampza ER to Modulate Pill Swallowing Difficulties in Patients with Chronic Pain
  • Implementing Contextual Factors Assessment in Clinical Settings
  • Big Data Analytics for Pain Treatment Decision-Making
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Program System User Training
  • Brain Reorganization in Chronic Pain and Drug Abuse
  • Provider-Targeted Behavioral Interventions to Prevent Unsafe Opioid Prescribing for Acute Non-Cancer Pain in Primary Care
  • Brain Mechanisms Underlying Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy-Related Reductions in Fibromyalgia
  • Neuroimaging Acupuncture Effects on Brain Activity in Chronic Low Back Pain
  • Targeted Interventions to Prevent Chronic Low Back Pain in High Risk Patients: A Multi-Site Pragmatic Randomized Control Trial 
  • Subgrouping of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis Based on Biophysical and Psychosocial Factors