(Tulsa, Okla--) The northern grass frog has jumped onto the biomedical research field as a leading model for pain investigation. Scientist Craig W. Stevens, Ph.D., says the common grass frog, Rana pipiens, can help humans better understand how powerful drugs like morphine and codeine affect the brain.
Dr. Stevens, an associate professor of pharmacology at the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, developed the alternative model in the early 1990's.
"It's pretty amazing to think that frogs can help us understand pain in humans," says Dr. Stevens who runs the only amphibian-model laboratory of its kind in the United States. "But our research shows there is much similarity in the actions of morphine and other opioid drugs in amphibians and mammals."
Dr. Stevens' lab is located in Tulsa, Oklahoma and houses approximately 100 frogs involved in ongoing studies. He is director of the Analgesia Research Laboratory, a biomedical group dedicated to pain research using non-mammalian models. Although it is not scientifically proven, Dr. Stevens believes that amphibians have less potential for pain than mammals. He is committed to his cause for scientific, economic and ethical reasons. "The ability to detect or quantify a conscious experience like pain in animals is not possible - to think otherwise is not science, but science fiction."
Affectionately called the "Frog Man" by his colleagues, Dr. Stevens is a career scientist with more than 15 years of experience in opioid and pain research. In 1992, he was awarded the Young Investigator Travel Award from the American Pain Society. That same year he received the FIRST Award from the National Institutes of Health.
The widely published Dr. Stevens is scheduled to speak at the 1999 AAAS Annual
Meeting in Anaheim, California January 23 at 2:30 p.m. The title of his work is
"An Amphibian Whole-Animal Alternative for the Study of Pain." It will be
delivered during the session, "Al
Contact: Karen Wicker
Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine