Jacqueline Sagen, Ph.D., M.B.A.

Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery

Jacqueline Sagen, Ph.D.

The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
1095 NW 14th Terrace (R-48)
Miami, FL 33136


Research Interests

Areas Of Research



Dr. Jacqueline Sagen is currently Professor of Neurological Surgery at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.  She received a B.A. in Neuroscience from Northwestern University, Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Illinois College of Medicine and M.B.A. in Entrepreneurship from University of Illinois at Chicago.

In 1986 she joined the faculty at University of Illinois College of Medicine in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology where she initiated studies on intrathecal adrenal medullary transplants for control of pain that led to early clinical trials. To further develop this technology, she was Associate Director of Pharmacology and Behavioral Research at CytoTherapeutics, Inc, prior to joining the University of Miami in 1998.

Research in Dr. Sagen’s laboratory has been focused on exploring novel therapeutic strategies for chronic pain management that have the potential to provide sustained relief on a long-term or permanent basis.  As chronic pain syndromes are often resistant to traditional pain interventions and/or limited by untoward side effects and possible analgesic dependence, the long term goal of work in her lab is to identify and develop more potent interventive approaches to improve the quality of life of these patients.  A primary initiative in her lab is the generation of gene therapies and cell transplantation that can provide a continually renewable source of pain-reducing substances.  The identification of superior alternatives to opioids, such as cannabinoids, is another current research focus. Dr. Sagen serves as faculty representative to the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) and is a Board Member of the Consortium for Medical Marijuana Clinical Outcomes Research.

Cell Transplantation and Gene Therapies for Alleviation of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain, such as that resulting from SCI or other injuries to the nervous system, is difficult to manage clinically and contributes to reduced quality of life and productivity. In addition, the presence of untreated pain can interfere with the ability to fully participate in rehabilitative strategies, thus limiting potential long-term gains in functional recovery. Pain due to injury to the nervous system is difficult to treat and pharmacological options for patients are marginally effective in the long term and fraught with unacceptable side effects. Our laboratory explores novel and more effective strategies in the therapeutic management of chronic pain and reduced reliance on opioids.  Cell transplantation or gene therapy via direct delivery to the nervous system can provide a sustained and renewable source of pain-reducing agents at circumscribed nervous system sites, avoiding off-target side effects as well as potentially reversing underlying neuropathology. The overall goal of this research is to achieve improved and more permanent chronic pain alleviation by providing synergistic naturally-derived analgesic molecules to target and reduce persistent pathological pain processes.

Towards this goal, our current research initiatives and challenges include:

  • Development of clinically translatable cell transplantation for chronic pain therapies using human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs),
  • Discovery and characterization of novel mammalian and non-mammalian peptides that can be developed for chronic pain therapeutics,
  • Design of synergistic combination analgesic gene constructs for enhancing cell transplantation or viral vector-based delivery,
  • The identification of alternatives to opioids, such as non-psychoactive cannabinoids, and potential exosomal delivery systems for amelioration of pain,
  • Addition of exercise training to reduce inflammation and enhance analgesic benefits for overall long-term well-being,
  • Development of models and treatment strategies for assessment of clinically prevalent chronic pain syndromes such as low back pain and osteoarthritis with better predictive validity for clinical translation.


Recombinant Cell
Dr. Jacqueline Sagen and Lab Members
Dr. Jacqueline Sagen and Lab Members


American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair
Consortium for Medical Marijuana Clinical Outcomes Research
Federal Demonstration Partnership
International Association for the Study of Pain
Society for Neuroscience
International Committee Neural Transplantation and Repair

Visit Dr. Sagen’s Laboratory Website