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Pain and Addiction Expert Named CU Anesthesiology Vice Chair of Research

Accomplished researcher, leader will be department’s inaugural Richard Traystman, PhD, endowed chair

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What You Need To Know

The Department of Anesthesiology has named its new vice chair of research and inaugural Richard Traystman, PhD, endowed chair: an accomplished leader and pain and addiction expert.

Susan Ingram, PhD, has been named vice chair of research in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, effective July 15. Ingram will be the inaugural Richard Traystman, PhD, endowed chair in anesthesiology.

Ingram joins the CU Department of Anesthesiology from the Department of Neurological Surgery at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland, Oregon. In addition to her professorship, Ingram is currently funded by two R01 grants from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.  

“Dr. Ingram is an accomplished researcher in the field of chronic pain medicine and addiction, a committed educator and an active contributor to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives,” said Vesna Jevtovic-Todorovic, MD, PhD, chair of the anesthesiology department and CU Medicine endowed professor of anesthesiology and pharmacology.

Advancing critical research

“We are fortunate that she has accepted this leadership role and look forward to enhancing our research programs and capturing additional funding of anesthesiology-related research under her guidance,” Jevtovic-Todorovic said. “Her research focuses on understanding neuronal plasticity involved in pain and drug addiction circuits, topics of great interest to NIH and the next step in translating basic and clinical research.”

Ingram’s research has largely focused on opioid and cannabinoid receptor modulation of pain circuits, and her laboratory has had continuous funding from NIDA since 2003. Her current research focuses on synaptic plasticity associated with inflammation, especially the endocannabinoid system in the descending pain modulatory circuit. 

“Our goal is to understand these pain pathways and functional selectivity of opioid agonists so that we can develop novel drugs that target pain without triggering dependence and addiction,” Ingram said.

“Our goal is to understand these pain pathways and functional selectivity of opioid agonists so that we can develop novel drugs that target pain without triggering dependence and addiction.” – Susan Ingram, PhD

Ingram has published more than 72 peer-reviewed primary research articles and reviews, the vast majority related to mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in the descending pain modulatory system associated with opioid tolerance and dependence. She serves in many leadership roles in the scientific community, including incoming president of the International Narcotics Research Conference (INRC) and co-chair of the 2024 Gordon Conference (Membrane Transporters in Health and Disease).

Bringing strong leadership skills

Ingram received her PhD from OHSU’s Department of Pharmacology/Neuroscience program in 1995. She was a Human Frontiers postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia, and a postdoctoral fellow at Vollum Institute at OHSU. Ingram was an assistant/associate professor for the Department of Psychology at Washington State University, Vancouver, from 2003 to 2010 and associate professor for the Department of Neurological Surgery at OHSU. She attained professor with tenure at OHSU in 2018.

Ingram’s role as vice chair of research continues the anesthesiology department’s rigorous pursuit of new ways to translate basic and clinical research and elevate its ability to lead the academic anesthesiology community to inform clinical practice and therapeutics, said Nidia Quillinan, PhD, associate professor of anesthesiology and director of the Neuronal Injury and Plasticity Program.

“I’m not only excited about Susie’s future leadership in her role as vice chair, but also that her research is a great fit, and she will be able to build collaborations and programmatic research with other investigators in our department.”

Guest contributor: Katharine George, events and communications coordinator, CU Department of Anesthesiology

Topics: Research, Addiction

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Staff Mention

Vesna Jevtovic-Todorovic, MD, PhD

Staff Mention

Nidia Quillinan, PhD