Hometown: Dayton, OH
Education & Training
- MD, Washington University in St. Louis, School of Medicine
- Anesthesiology Residency, University of California, San Francisco
- PhD, Washington University in St. Louis
Dr. Alter's publications can be reviewed through PubMed.
Research, clinical, and/or academic interests
The complicated process by which a painful stimulus becomes a painful perception is central to pain neurobiology and to the clinical problem of pain management. Interestingly, the perception of pain is far removed from the transduction of painful stimuli (nociception). Significant top-down processing is known to occur, allowing for a state-dependence of pain perception. How an organism integrates different behavioral states with incoming nociceptive signals strongly shapes pain perception. The overall hypothesis of my research is that dynamic feedback loops between pain percept and behavioral state work to reinforce behaviors leading to pain relief and extinguish behaviors leading pain exacerbation. This suggests several interesting questions. How does a changing pain percept affect current pain perception? What are the neurobiological substrates of these dynamic changes? Does the feedback loop change in the setting of persistent and chronic pain states? What are the clinical ramifications and how can this model, and associated preclinical data, be applied to pain management? One overall goal of Dr. Alter's work is to better understand these broad questions with an integrative approach involving human and model system research using behavioral, pharmacologic, and genetic tools. The second is to translate findings to improve clinical practice.
- Multimodal approach to chronic pain management
- Interventional pain management
Dr. Alter's postdoctoral position is supported in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (T32GM075770).