Robert H. Dworkin received his B.A. in 1971 from the University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. in 1977 from Harvard University. He is currently Professor of Anesthesiology, Neurology, Oncology, and Psychiatry, Professor of Neurology in the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics, and Director of the Anesthesiology Clinical Research Center at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Dr. Dworkin is Director of the Analgesic, Anesthetic, and Addiction Clinical Trial Translations, Innovations, Opportunities, and Networks (ACTTION) public-private partnership with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA); Co-chair of the Initiative on Methods, Measurement, and Pain Assessment in Clinical Trials (IMMPACT); a member of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Zoster Working Group; and a Special Government Employee of the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. He is a member of the Editorial Boards of Pain, Journal of Pain, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, and Current Pain and Headache Reports, and has previously served as a consultant to and member of the FDA Anesthetic and Life Support Drugs Advisory Committee and as a member of the CDC Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella Working Group. In 2005, he received the American Pain Society’s Wilbert E. Fordyce Clinical Investigator Award, which “recognizes individual excellence and achievements in clinical pain scholarship and is presented to a pain professional whose total career research achievements have contributed significantly to clinical practice,” and in 2011, he received the Eastern Pain Association’s John J. Bonica Award for his “many contributions to the study, prevention, and treatment of chronic pain.”
The primary focus of Dr. Dworkin’s current research involves methodologic aspects of analgesic clinical trials, especially identifying factors that might increase the assay sensitivity of a trial to detect differences between an active and a control or comparison treatment. With research funding from the FDA and other sources, he and colleagues are currently examining in acute and chronic pain trials the relationships between study methodologic features and study outcomes, as well as comparing the responsiveness to treatment effects of different primary and secondary outcome measures. The overall objective of these efforts — which are being conducted under the auspices of the ACTTION public-private partnership — is to identify approaches to improving the efficiency and informativeness of clinical trials of pain treatments and provide the foundation for an evidence-based approach to analgesic clinical trial design. In addition, Dr. Dworkin has for many years conducted studies of risk factors for the development of different types of chronic pain, which have been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and various pharmaceutical companies. One of the major results of this research has been that patients with greater acute pain are more likely to develop chronic pain, which suggests that attenuating acute pain might prevent chronic pain.
Dr. Dworkin has served as a consultant to over 100 pharmaceutical and device companies in the development and evaluation of analgesic and antiviral treatments. As Director of the Anesthesiology Clinical Research Center, he has served as principal investigator for a large number of clinical trials of analgesic treatments. These studies have examined treatments for various types of chronic pain—including neuropathic pain conditions, low back pain, cancer pain, fibromyalgia, and osteoarthritis—as well as treatments for acute pain in herpes zoster and for acute post-surgical pain.