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, and Psychiatry, Professor 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 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); a Special Government Employee of the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research; and Co-Chair of the Acute to Chronic Pain Transition Work Group of the U.S. Federal Pain Research Strategy; he previously served as a consultant to and member of the FDA Anesthetic and Life Support Drugs Advisory Committee and as a member of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Herpes Zoster Working Group. He is currently an Associate Editor of Pain, and a member of the Editorial Boards of Journal of Pain, Canadian Journal of Pain, and Current Pain and Headache Reports. Dr. Dworkin received the American Pain Society’s Wilbert E. Fordyce Clinical Investigator Award in 2005 and John and Emma Bonica Public Service Award in 2014, the Eastern Pain Association’s John J. Bonica Award in 2011, and the American Academy of Neurology’s Mitchell B. Max Award for Neuropathic Pain in 2015.
Dr. Dworkin’s major research interests are (1) methodologic aspects of analgesic clinical trials and (2) treatment and prevention of chronic neuropathic and musculoskeletal pain. The primary focus of his current research involves the identification of factors that increase the assay sensitivity of clinical trials to detect differences between an active and a control or comparison treatment, and he and his colleagues are examining the relationships between clinical trial results and their research designs, patient characteristics, and outcome measures. These studies and other efforts to improve the efficiency and informativeness of analgesic clinical trials are being conducted under the auspices of the ACTTION public-private partnership with the FDA. In addition, in collaboration with Dennis Turk at the University of Washington, he is currently conducting a randomized clinical trial of tramadol, cognitive-behavior therapy, and health education alone and in combination for the treatment of fibromyalgia. Dr. Dworkin has also been very interested in the identification of risk factors for the development of chronic neuropathic pain. One of the major results of this program of research has been that patients with greater acute pain are more likely to develop chronic pain. This suggests that attenuating acute pain might prevent chronic pain, and an additional focus of his research has involved developing approaches to test this hypothesis.
Dr. Dworkin has authored over 300 journal publications and book chapters, and has served as a consultant to over 150 pharmaceutical and device companies in the development and evaluation of analgesic and antiviral treatments. As Director of the Anesthesiology Clinical Research Center, he has been the 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 acute post-surgical pain.