Melvin Donaldson smiling

Donaldson receives NIH fellowship to study chronic pain in veterans

Charlie Plain | April 6, 2016
Melvin Donaldson smiling
Doctoral student Melvin Donaldson

School of Public Health epidemiology student Melvin Donaldson was recently awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral MD/PhD Fellowship by the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. This is an individual fellowship designed to support the training of future clinician-scientists, like Donaldson, who are currently pursuing combined training in a medical school and graduate school.

“I am thrilled to win this award,” says Donaldson. “NIH funding is very competitive, so this is an encouraging endorsement of my training environment, mentors, career goals, and research plans.”

As part of his fellowship, Donaldson has proposed a study that focuses on the experience of chronic pain in veterans and how yoga has shaped the experience of pain and disabling pain among a group of Minnesota National Guard veterans.

“I am interested in mind-body therapies as treatments — not simply managements — for complicated pain conditions,” says Donaldson. “Physicians’ attempts to manage chronic pain with powerful painkillers have created new problems by substituting pain for painkillers without addressing the root causes of pain.”

During his study, Donaldson hopes to explore personal resilience to chronic pain disability, psychological concepts of coping and adaptation, biomedical indicators of treatment success and failure, and aspects of social group functioning among veterans.

“Through this work, I will not only prepare myself for a career as a physician-scientist, but also contribute to our understanding of how therapies work in chronic pain,” says Donaldson.


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