Tim J. Brennan, MD, PhD


Dr. Samir D. Gergis Professor
Vice Chair for Research, Department of Anesthesia
Professor of Anesthesia
Professor of Pharmacology

Contact Information

Primary Office: 6418 JCP
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-356-7319

Web: More information


PhD, University of Texas Health Center
MD, University of Oklahoma Health and Science Center

Education/Training Program Affiliations

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Translational Biomedicine
Medical Scientist Training Program

Research Summary

Our goal has been to improve the management of postoperative pain in surgical patients. We recognized that there was a significant gap between basic science pain research and clinical acute postoperative pain management that should be explored. We examine how surgical incisions cause pain using preclinical animal models. Having developed a model for measuring pain behaviors caused by incision in rats, we examine the key process producing clinical pain states- sensory neuron sensitization; the conversion of normal, nonpainful sensory stimuli to pain eliciting responses. We utilize in vivo and in vitro neurophysiologic methods to examine the sensitization process and the resulting behavioral phenomena at the level of the primary afferent neuron as well as the spinal cord dorsal horn. Extracellular in vivo dorsal horn cells are recorded in anesthetized rats and combined with behavioral pharmacology. The results of the spinal cord dorsal horn experiments describe why the AMPA-kainate receptor system is critical for expression of pain behaviors after incision. An area of research to develop in the future is the clinical use of spinal and epidural nonNMDA receptor antagonists for use in humans and clinical pain states. Our second area of emphasis is the peripheral sensitization process caused by incision. In vivo single fiber primary afferent recordings continue to be utilized. Recordings of pain transmitting fibers will be studied in vitro using organ sensory nerve preparations like skin nerve and muscle nerve studies. We will attempt to develop these preparations in mouse tissues to take advantage of knockout animals.

Date Last Modified: 07/19/2016 - 16:18:09