Gerald F. Gebhart, PhD

Professor, Anesthesiology, Neurobiology, Pharmacology & Chemical Biology, Medicine


W1444 Biomedical Science Tower
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PhD, The University of Iowa (1971)


Mechanisms of pain and pain modulation.

Research Summary

Dr. Gebhart is Director of the Pittsburgh Center for Pain Research.

Acute or chronic pain that requires medical attention affects an estimated 45 percent of Americans annually. Despite its importance and often compelling insistence, mechanisms of pain and of pain control are incompletely understood.

A principal focus of the laboratory is investigation of the mechanisms of enhanced sensitivity to pain, termed hypersensitivity or hyperalgesia (a plastic change in the nervous system), that develops following tissue injury. A complementary research focus is study of the organization and operation of endogenous systems of pain control and their contribution to chronic pain states.

Experimental approaches include: single sensory nerve fiber recording, patch clamp recording from identified nerve cell bodies in dorsal root ganglion neurons, and procedures for quantification or localization of peptides, G protein-coupled receptors, immediate early genes, and ion channels that play an important role in pain.

Current Projects:
1. Mechanisms of nociceptor and afferent fiber sensitization following cutaneous or visceral organ insult.
2. An investigation of "silent pain fibers" and their role in increased pain sensation.
3. Properties of ligand-gated ion channels following tissue insult and development of hypersensitivity.
4. Facilitation of pain by endogenous control systems and its relevance to chronic pain conditions.
5. Peripheral and central mediators of hypersensitivity (e.g., cytokines, growth factors, peptides, etc.).


Gold, M.S. and Gebhart, G.F. Nociceptor sensitization in pain pathogenesis. Nature Med 16:14-23, 2010.

Chen, X., Molliver, D.C. and Gebhart, G.F. The P2Y2 receptor sensitizes mouse bladder sensory neurons and facilitates purinergic currents. J Neurosci. 30:2365-72, 2010.

Feng, B., Brumovsky, P.R. and Gebhart, G.F. Differential roles of stretch-sensitive pelvic nerve afferents innervating the mouse distal colon and rectum. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 298:G402-9, 2010.

Chen, X. and Gebhart, G.F. Differential purinergic signaling in bladder sensory neurons of naive and bladder inflamed mice. Pain, 148:462-72, 2010.

Brumovsky, P.R. and Gebhart, G.F. Visceral organ cross-sensitization - an integrated perspective.Auton Neurosci., 153:106-15, 2010.