Elie D. Al-Chaer
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
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
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
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
A. Impact of neonatal visceral pain or injury on development and adult
B. The role of sex hormones in the gender differences seen in visceral
C. Pathways and mechanisms of visceral pain.
D. The role of glial cells in the neuronal sensitization associated with
Translating these findings into clinical application is done through
collaboration with pharmaceutical companies and willing clinicians.