Elie D. Al-Chaer


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“Let the Truth be your guide and your imagination the limit”
                                                                                       Elie D. Al-Chaer


Elie D. Al-Chaer
The Scientist

Elie D. Al-Chaer is Professor of Pediatrics, Internal Medicine - Gastroenterology, Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences and Director of the Center for Pain Research (CPR™) at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). He holds a B.S. (Mathematics; 1988) and an M.S. (Physiology; 1991) from the American University of Beirut (AUB), a Ph.D. (Neuroscience; 1996) from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) and a J.D. (Doctor of Jurisprudence; 2002) from South Texas College of Law.

His laboratory explores the neural mechanisms associated with pain symptoms refractory to conventional treatments. In particular, his work focuses on defining the neurogenic components of functional gastrointestinal disorders, and exploring the interactive dynamics of sensorimotor pathways and their roles in pain processing. Over the past three years, his team has developed an animal model of chronic visceral hypersensitivity and functional abdominal disorders. The model is used to study the development and plasticity of somatic and visceral pain circuitry, particularly the permanent structural, functional and behavioral alterations in the adult organism residual to neonatal pain or inflammation. The Center for Pain Research (CPR™) was founded by Dr. Al-Chaer in 2002; it is a consortium of research facilities specialized in the neurobiology of pain and related biobehavior. Its mission is to facilitate the process of interdisciplinary integration in pain research, lead to better venues of communication, and a better understanding of the complex pathophysiologies involved in pain management.

Dr. Al-Chaer is the recipient of numerous recognitions and awards for his work on pain, one such award being the year 2000 John C. Liebeskind Early Career Scholar Award by the American Pain Society.

As a trilingual scientist and a licensed attorney, Dr. Al-Chaer is a uniquely effective advocate of the issues most important to pain research; he presents them to the public at large and to interested audiences with the requisite scientific background and the necessary legal formation.

Elie Al-Chaer is a member of the American Bar Association (ABA); he is admitted to practice in the State of Texas (2002) and the District of Columbia (Washington DC; 2006). He is also very active in the field of biomedical research and health care sciences. He has appeared as a guest speaker at professional meetings in the United States and throughout the world. His dedication to serving the needs of his clients, as well as his thorough background in the fields of basic and clinical research, make him uniquely qualified to provide distinguished professional services.

Elie Al-Chaer's Curriculum Vitae



His Science

In his words
I. Research Philosophy

As a scientist, I come from the land of the high-minded yet often curiously parochial primate. I believe that science starts with human interactions: if we want theory and experimental neuroscience to strengthen each other, we must hope for people with different cultures, expertise, perspectives and footwear to leave their prejudices at the door and learn to better appreciate each other’s strengths. This is not easy to achieve when human nature makes us shun the unfamiliar and puts us face to face with some of the most bewildering questions in life’s highly sophisticated machine “the living organism”. Yet, the makeup of my lab team embodies the philosophy of outstanding diversity. We are a group of excellent scientists from different areas of the globe guided by the Truth and limited by our imagination. As their leader, I promote high standards of research so as to advance knowledge and scholarship and encourage improvement and innovation in an environment of excellence, open-mindedness, and outreach.

As a neuroscientist, I would consider most of what we do in the lab as descriptive; we try to tie one observation to another through some causal link. Causal links are usually pretty short and linear, even when experiments to establish them are horrendously complex. However, to understand the brain and its collective behavior, we will have to understand a system of interacting elements of befuddling size and combinatorial complexity. Comprehension of the nervous system is very difficult to deduce from knowledge of its basic components; this is when we begin to theorize and bring about a new dimension of explanatory power.

II. Current Research Scope

My research explores the neural mechanisms associated with pain symptoms refractory to conventional treatments or residual to neonatal injury. In particular, it focuses on defining the neurogenic components of functional disorders (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome), and exploring the interactive dynamics of sensorimotor pathways and their roles in pain processing. This major research theme is currently explored in 4 specific research projects aimed at understanding different aspects of pain:

A. Impact of neonatal visceral pain or injury on development and adult behavior.
B. The role of sex hormones in the gender differences seen in visceral pain.
C. Pathways and mechanisms of visceral pain.
D. The role of glial cells in the neuronal sensitization associated with visceral pain.

Translating these findings into clinical application is done through collaboration with pharmaceutical companies and willing clinicians.


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