Dr. Karin Westlund High has been chosen this year to receive the 2023 Rainforest Innovation Fellow Award in recognition of her achievements as a leading innovator at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Westlund High is a distinguished professor and the Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Anesthesiology & Critical Care Medicine at the UNM School of Medicine and is a Research Physiologist at the New Mexico VA Health Care System in Albuquerque.
The UNM Rainforest Innovations Board of Directors presents this special award each year to a university faculty inventor whose body of technologies have made a significant social and economic impact on society and the marketplace. The award will be presented to Dr. Westlund High at the UNMRI Innovation Awards on April 25, 2023. The annual event also recognizes UNM faculty, staff, and students who have received issued U.S. patents and registered U.S. copyrights/trademarks within the past year.
Relieving chronic pain and understanding the complex mechanisms of the pain system have been at the forefront of Dr. Karin Westlund High’s research activities. Her work to find effective, non-opioid therapeutics is on the path to being realized: a lifegoal she never thought she would be able to reach. Her research fights against the devastating effects and social consequences of opioid addiction and dependence. Effective non-opiate therapeutics are finally on the horizon, as well as other pharmacologics, to treat opiate addiction and provide better outcomes for those suffering with chronic pain.
Karin is among the earliest members of the American Pain Society, the U.S. chapter of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), which is dedicated to advancing multidisciplinary pain care, education, advocacy, and research to improve people’s quality of life. Since 2005, she has served as Associate Editor for the Pharmacology section of the IASP professional journal Pain and in 2008 she won the Fred Kerr Career Research Award given by the IASP professional organization.
Dr. Karin Westlund High’s studies have been continuously funded and have appeared in 182 published manuscripts and cited 11,674 times (H-Index 63). These studies were done with the assistance of six graduate PhD students; 15 postdoctoral, resident, medical and dental fellows; senior scientists; and collaborators. She has provided numerous contributions to the education of graduate, medical, and dental students, primarily through medical and dental neuroscience courses. She received her PhD in physiology and biophysics from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas.