UW Today

This is an archived article.

October 8, 2002

University of Washington awarded $1 million grant from The Paul G. Allen Foundation for Medical Research

The University of Washington Department of Urology announced today that it has received a $1 million grant from The Paul G. Allen Foundation for Medical Research to support continuing research by Dr. Richard Berger on chronic pelvic pain in men.

“The Foundation is committed to supporting important medical research which promotes and improves health care delivery to individuals in the Pacific Northwest,” said Jody Patton, executive director of the six Paul Allen Foundations. “The University of Washington and Dr. Berger have demonstrated encouraging progress in their previous research, which will not only have a significant impact on the daily lives of many people in our communities, but can be leveraged in other health care facilities and by physicians across the country.”

This grant opens the opportunity for Dr. Berger’s lab to advance more quickly in its studies of chronic pelvic pain. Already the lab has developed a working model of idiopathic prostatitis (disease of the prostate gland) from clinical experience and ongoing research concerning the causes of chronic pelvic pain syndrome, or CPPS.

“This model explains many of the previously puzzling manifestations of the disease,” Berger said. “Our findings so far indicate that prostatitis definitely involves a great deal more than the prostate. This grant will help us expand our research into this problem and possible solutions.”

Berger’s research so far has shown that application of botulism toxin, marketed as Botox, significantly decreases pain and difficulty with urination in men diagnosed with prostatitis in cases where antibiotics have failed. Berger has demonstrated the presence of spinal chord sensitization for the first time, and indicated that this sensitization helps set up a cycle of increased pain sensitivity, muscle spasm and increased pain from mild stimuli. Additionally, Berger has shown that genetic and stress factors may increase the likelihood of developing chronic prostatitis.

“Our studies have also led us to believe that the mechanism of the vicious cycle of prostatitis pain is applicable to many poorly understood pain syndromes in both men and women,” Berger said. “We are deeply grateful to the Foundation for its enlightened support of this research program.”

The grant will be distributed over two years, at $500,000 per year.

The Paul G. Allen Foundation for Medical Research supports innovative programs and research that promote health, prevent disease and improve practices and health-care delivery. Founded in 1988, The Paul G. Allen Foundation for Medical Research — one of six foundations that support the use of technology in advancing medical treatments — is administered through Vulcan Inc., of Seattle.

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