The MAYDAY Fund is dedicated to alleviating the incidence, degree, and consequence of human physical pain.

What We Fund

The MAYDAY Fund has thematic grant-making targets, which evolve and change over time. MAYDAY has funded single-year projects as well as multi-year grants. Projects span the spectrum from bench science to education to professional practice. They address the role of patients, as well as that of professionals, rights, as well as responsibilities, and often crosscut our grant-making targets.

Recognizing the diverse nature of pain throughout all stages of life, MAYDAY supports projects affecting groups from infancy to old age. Historically, pain in non-verbal populations has also been specifically targeted and the Board remains cognizant of the challenges presented by this population across all project categories.

Many of the Fund’s grants support interdisciplinary professional collaboration. We support projects intended to augment evidence that pain is diagnosable and treatable. Our grantees are expected to be able to provide credible evidence of measurable impact as a result of our funding.

While we reserve the right to be nimble, the MAYDAY Fund’s current grant-making targets are:

Research Bench to Bedside

The need to discover better ways to treat pain leads MAYDAY to seek projects that hold the promise of innovative clinical applications. We look to seed translational research to expand the scope and reach of pain treatments.

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Pain Thermometer

The lack of objective measurements of pain continues to be a confounding issue for appropriate treatment interventions. Discovering and testing measurable and reliable scientific indicators for pain will likely lead the pain field toward a future of more effective therapies and more personalized medicine overall.

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Knowledge & Networks

Education and professional learning are key to closing the gap between knowledge and practice. MAYDAY seeks collaborative and scalable projects that improve both professional practice and lay knowledge. These projects may range from curriculum development to advocacy training to convening thought leaders.

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Alternative Strategies & Therapies

Non-opioid therapeutic research and models of clinical care have emerged in recent years as a target where MAYDAY’s scale of grant-making might make a meaningful contribution.

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Convening & Networking

The MAYDAY Fund occasionally sponsors meetings where key representatives discuss issues important to the pain field and develop strategies for moving forward. MAYDAY Grantees and Fellows are encouraged to consult and collaborate when opportunities arise. The Fund maintains a presence at meetings where the work of Grantees is presented and where key issues in the field are debated.

Recent Example: The Genetics of Pain and Pain Inhibition: Where to From Here?
A meeting at the Banbury Center of The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory–2014

In 2014, the time was right for a meeting to address the relative merits of the association studies and single-gene approaches for the study of chronic pain, along with various current practices in the field. This was an agenda-setting meeting.

Chronic pain is the most prevalent human health problem, with a lifetime prevalence of one in two. Susceptibility to developing chronic pain disorders, as well as pain intensity and response to analgesics, have been shown to have moderate-to-high heritability. Many neuropathic pain syndromes are classic gene x environment interactions, whereby nerve damage is required but only produces neuropathic pain in a small subset of individuals.

It is now 10 years since the first human genetic association studies of pain began appearing in the literature, and association studies and exome sequencing studies of chronic pain disorders are also now being published. As with other complex traits, replicability is poor, and the percentage of trait variance being explained is small. At the same time, progress has been made in identifying rare genetic variants responsible for monogenic pain disorders, both loss-of-function (congenital insensitivity to pain) and gain-of-function (e.g., erythromelalgia). Mindful of the experience of migraine geneticists, the relevance of these genes to more common pain traits is unclear.

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Fellows Program

Established by The Mayday Fund in 2004, the Mayday Pain & Society Fellowship: A Media and Policy Initiative has trained 60 physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, scientists and legal scholars in the pain management community to more effectively communicate their work and raise awareness and improve the treatment of acute and chronic pain. The Fellowship is not currently accepting applications for 2016, but please check back for more information on future opportunities, including a new Fellowship, and to see a newly designed website.

Pain Experts Guide Fellows Directory

Sample Accomplishments

  • How Does Your Brain Respond to Pain?

    Watch Mayday Fellow Karen Davis’ TedEd video answering the question: “How does your brain respond to pain?” In this short video, she explains why different people have different responses to painful experiences.

    Fellowship Highlights
    28 April 2016