The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a joint administrative supplement grant to Brian Schmidt, professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery and director of the Bluestone Center for Clinical Research at the NYU College of Dentistry, and Markus Hardt, a protein chemist at the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, to collaborate with informationists at the NYU Health Sciences Libraries in their study of the role of the molecular mechanisms of cancer pain in general, and oral cancer pain in particular.
Informationists are medical librarians who provide in-depth research and knowledge management services to clinical or biomedical research teams. While scientific literature has become increasingly easy to access through computer-based systems, the vast amounts of information available, coupled with the increasing complexity of library systems, frequently prevent researchers from effectively accessing the required data. This has led to a vast amount of relevant literature going unnoticed, which has negatively affected patient care as well as creativity and productivity in research. Informationists use data management systems to bridge the gap between available scientific information and relevant scientific information.
The grant builds on a $1.25 million, five-year NIDCR parent grant awarded to Schmidt and Hardt in 2010 to spur the development of more sophisticated analgesics (pain medications) to alleviate the pain that is so often manifested in patients with oral cancer.
“Oral cancer is a logical place to start when seeking clues about cancer pain,” Schmidt says. “[It] is very painful. In fact, pain is the most common presenting symptom associated with this cancer. Secondly, oral cancer is painful at the primary site, not just at sites of metastasis, as in the case of all other cancers. Lastly, the primary site of the oral cancer is readily accessible, enabling us to directly sample the cancer microenvironment.”