Spotlights Entries

Entry DateApril 28, 2021
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NamePaul Borsa
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2. Tell us about your current program of research and/or activities and projects that you are currently involved in.

My current research agenda can be divided into two primary investigational areas. My first area involves studying the “Biopsychosocial influences of musculoskeletal pain". I have been involved with a research team here at UF as a co-investigator that has been investigating the “Biopsychosocial Influences of Shoulder Pain” (BISP). BISP is an NIH funded project that was initiated in 2008. The project is a collaborative effort between faculty from the Departments of Physical Therapy, Applied Physiology & Kinesiology, Community Dentistry & Behavioral Science, Biostatistics, and Molecular Genetics & Microbiology. Our initial goal was to identify how specific biological (genetic) and psychological risk factors influence shoulder pain and physical impairment as a result of musculoskeletal injury. In phase 1, we were able to successfully validate a high-risk subgroup based on the interaction of genetic and psychological risk factors. Current research (phase 2) is being directed towards identifying the underlying mechanisms and efficacy of personalized pain interventions designed to target the genetic and psychological factors that comprise the high-risk subgroup we identified in phase 1. My second area of research involves the “Use of phytocannabinoids as an alternative to opioid medication for managing musculoskeletal pain”. The objective of my current research is to determine the efficacy of a controlled short-term trial using a CBD-extract for reducing symptomatic response and facilitating recovery following induced muscle injury. This pilot project is being funded by the Medical Marijuana Consortium for Clinical Outcomes Research which was established by the state of Florida to conduct and support research that will contribute to the body of scientific knowledge on the effects of the prescribed medical use of this plant-based nutritional supplement (cannabis) to influence policy and clinical practice related to the treatment of debilitating medical conditions. As part of the process, I was required to apply for and secure Investigational New Drug (IND) status for our investigational product (CBD-extract) from the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). This was not an easy process to undertake. As a result. I have gained key insight into the regulatory nature of cannabis at the federal level, and how important it is to have federal approval to conduct this type of clinical research.

4. Where do you see your career going in the future? What are your goals and aspirations?

As a result of obtaining an IND for my cannabis product, additional opportunities for collaboration have emerged from within UF that are both exciting and have the potential to garner external funding. So my future research plans involve pursuing the use of CBD and other major cannabinoids as a non-pharmacologic therapeutic for a variety of medical conditions that involve acute and chronic pain. In addition, my goal is to become more involved with PRICE because there is so much great science that is being explored in this research unit with regards to the pain experience from a basic and applied science level.

5. Tell us something fun that you do in your spare time or any hobbies that you enjoy.

In my spare time I enjoy riding my mountain bike exploring the trails at the San Felasco preserve. Also, I have developed a DIY (do-it-yourself) philosophy, so I enjoy engaging in many home improvement projects or any other project that involves "fixing things".

3. Tell us about how you got involved in pain and/or aging research. Was there a moment that inspired you?

I have been a Certified Athletic Trainer since 1988 and during my clinical years working with athletics (1988-1994), I have treated many athletes with a variety of different acute and chronic injuries. Pain was always something that we had to deal with reluctantly, and I always found it to be the most difficult symptom to treat. I started my academic career in 1990 as a doctoral student studying proprioceptive changes in people that suffered shoulder (dislocations) and knee (e.g. ACL tears) injuries. I never had an interest in studying pain because it was so subjective and I felt it would be too difficult, experimentally, to capture the essence of the pain experience in injured athletes. I first became involved in pain research when my doctoral student at the time (Geoff Dover, 2006) wanted to conduct a shoulder pain study for his dissertation. Dr. Steve George was a member of Geoff's doctoral committee and we subsequently became friends and colleagues. Dr. George invited me to be a co-investigator on his shoulder pain project BISP (Biopsychosocial Influences of Shoulder Pain) in 2008 and that started really started my involvement in pain research. So, I guess you can say that I moved from "proprioceptors to nociceptors" as my primary line of research.