Dr Charles Chavkin - 2011

"Dynorphins and the Kappa Opioid Receptor System – Past and Future"
Dr Charles Chavkin

Allan and Phyllis Treuer Endowed Chair of Pain Research and Professor, Department of Pharmacology

University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA


I am grateful to the INRC Executive Committee for selecting me as the Founders’ lecturer for the 2011 conference. This is a tremendous honor for me because the INRC has been my scientific home since I first attended this conference while a graduate student in 1979. Looking over the list of previous lecturers, I am proud to be included in this distinguished group of scientists. The charge to the speaker is to answer the question, “how did we get here and where should we be going next?” Having participated in many of the important debates over the years within the INRC, I will be happy to present my personal views on the events leading to our current understandings of opioid receptor signaling, receptor desensitization and tolerance mechanisms, and dynorphins’ structure and function. Each of us have individual views on where we should be going next, and mine is that we need to use our growing understanding of the opioid peptide system’s cellular and molecular actions to better understand complex motivated behaviors. The opioid peptide systems have a central role in the stress response, and I believe that we need to better understand their roles in both healthy and pathological responses to stress. Hopefully these insights will yield novel therapeutics for the treatment of the adverse effects of stress that include the mood disorders of anxiety and depression and also include stress-induced increases in drug addiction risk. The rational design of novel therapeutics based on basic molecular pharmacological insights has been a long-standing goal of the opioid field, and this goal seems increasingly to be within our grasp.

INRC Conference