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

Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery

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

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

Research Interests

Areas Of 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 and assessment of more clinically relevant behavioral models for chronic pain with better predictive validity for clinical translation,
  • Discovery and characterization of novel mammalian and non-mammalian peptides that can be developed for long-term chronic pain management,
  • Design of synergistic combination analgesic gene constructs for cell transplantation or viral vector-based delivery,
  • Co-grafting supportive interactive cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs),
  • The identification of superior alternatives to opioids, such as cannabinoids, for chronic pain management,
  • Addition of exercise training to reduce inflammation and enhance analgesic benefits for overall long-term well-being.


Recombinant Cell


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