Howard G. Gutstein, MD

Professor, Anesthesiology


A1305 Scaife Hall
F: 412-647-2993


MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1982)


The molecular mechanisms underlying the development of opioid tolerance and dependence and the interactions of pain and analgesic signaling.

Research Summary

The primary focus of our research is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of opioid tolerance and dependence and the interactions of pain and analgesic signaling. We employ a multidisciplinary approach to understand these problems using cutting-edge techniques. After demonstrating clinical and physiological relevance in animal behavioral studies, we dissect mechanisms underlying opioid tolerance, physical dependence, and pain. We also aim to translate our findings into clinical trials and ultimately, better treatment for cancer patients. 

The overall goal of these projects is to develop more effective therapies for treating chronic pain without causing the devastating side effects of tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Trainees gain experience integrating molecular, genetic, neuroanatomic, biochemical, and behavioral techniques to explore important neurobiological questions from many perspectives. Close relations with clinical colleagues in the pain clinic provide opportunities to translate our basic findings into clinical practice and eventually see the direct application of our efforts. We have a close relationship with the Galko lab using drosophila melanogaster models of pain to generate new hypotheses for pain mechanisms. We also collaborate with the Bedford group in Molecular Carcinogenesis to look at epigenetic mechanisms underlying chronic pain.


Summer Undergraduate Research Program



Davis PJ, Cladis FP. Smith's Anesthesia for Infants and Children, Ninth Edition. Elsevier; 2017.

Anesthesia and Perioperative Care for Organ Transplantation. First edition. Subramaniam K, Sakai T, editors. Springer; 2017.
Basic Clinical Anesthesia. First edition. Sikka PK, Beaman ST, Street JA, editors: Springer-Verlag New York; 2015.
Bigeleisen PE, Gofeld M, Orebaugh SL. Ultrasound-guided Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine. Second edition: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.
Marcucci C, Hutchens MP, Wittwer ED, Weingarten TN, Sprung J, Nicholson WT, Lalwani K, Metro DG, Dull RO, Swide CE, Seagull FJ, Kirsch JR, Sandson NB, editors. A Case Approach to Perioperative Drug-Drug Interactions. First edition: Springer-Verlag New York; 2015.
Patel RM. Educational Advisory Board Report: The Roses and Thorns of GME – A DIO Perspective. AUA Update. Spring 2016: pp. 3-5. Link to full issue
Lim G, Thurston AL, Bauchat JR. Education Committee; Empathetic Care on the Obstetric Ward: The Anesthesiologist’s Role in Bridging the Gap in Patient Experience. SOAP Newsletter, Spring 2016, p. 9-11. Link to full issue
Hudson M. Benchmarking Anesthesiologists’ Performance: Understanding Factors That Impact Productivity. ASA Monitor. 2016;80(6):40-42.