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Photo of Randolph Ashton
November 22, 2019

Ashton joins NIH HEAL project to identify non-opioid drug treatments

Written By: Tom Ziemer


Randolph Ashton, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at UW-Madison, will lend his expertise in neural tissue engineering to a multi-institution research project that aims to create a new model of pain using human cells on a computer chip to allow for faster drug screening.

The effort is funded by a $1.2 million grant through the National Institutes of Health’s Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative, a nationwide program to combat opioid addiction and develop new strategies for treating chronic pain.

Ashton’s lab will use human pluripotent stem cells to derive spinal cord cells that participate in pain sensation pathways. Researchers at Tulane University, which is leading the project, will then incorporate those cells into their model of neuronal pain signaling and use it to rapidly screen non-opioid drugs.