Michael C. Rowbotham, M.D. , Senior Scientist; Scientific Director of CPMCRI

California Pacific CURRENTS: The online journal of CPMC Research Institute

Unraveling the mechanisms and improving management of chronic pain
  • Cannabis in painful HIV-associated sensory neuropathy

    Time course of the intensity of chronic neuropathic pain as rated on the daily diary VAS at 8 AM for the previous 24-hour period. Each point represents the group median. Study admission was at noon on study day –2, the first cigarette was smoked at 2 PM on study day 1, and the last cigarette was smoked at 2 PM on study day 5.

    Source: Abrams DI, Jay CA, Shade SB... Rowbotham MC, and Petersen KL.  Cannabis in painful HIV-associated sensory neuropathy: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Neurology 2007;68:515-521. (Figure 3)

  • The RReACT database and completed trials for PHN

    The Repository of Registered Analgesic Clinical Trials (RReACT) database: a scorecard for trial results availability. Green bars represent the total number of completed trials for postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), fibromyalgia, and diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). Blue bars represent the number of completed trials with any results available, and orange bars represent the number of studies for which results were available in a peer-review publication. Percentages displayed represent the percentage of the total number of completed studies.

    Source: Greene K, Dworkin RH, Rowbotham MC.  A snapshot and scorecard for analgesic clinical trials for chronic pain: The RReACT database. Pain 2012;153(9):1794-1797. (Figure 2)


Research Overview

  • Dr. Rowbotham’s research has greatly influenced how chronic pain is managed; from concept to FDA approval of topical local anesthetics for the neuropathic pain of post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), the initial trial of gabapentin for PHN, and the first controlled clinical trials of opioids for neuropathic pain. He has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications.
  • Dr. Rowbotham's current research efforts focus on the mechanisms, natural history, and management of chronic neuropathic pain, clinical trial design, opioid analgesic tolerance, and incorporation of human experimental pain models into testing of new analgesic agents.
  • His key initiatives link CPMCRI investigators with primary care physicians and specialists throughout Sutter Health to understand how pain is managed, and to test strategies that will reduce the risk of addiction and overdose when opioids are used to treat chronic pain.
  • Dr. Rowbotham leads CPMCRI's Cancer Avatar Project.
  • He is the Executive Committee Chair of the Sutter Neuroscience Research Consortium.

In 2016, Dr. Rowbotham received the Mitchell B. Max Award for Neuropathic Pain, in recognition of his outstanding research and clinical achievements.

Dr. Rowbotham obtained his M.D. from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine, and completed research fellowships in psychopharmacology and in pain research. Dr. Rowbotham is a leader in the ACTTION public-private partnership between the FDA, NIH, academic investigators, and industry to accelerate treatment development by improving clinical trials. He is Treasurer of the International Association for the Study of Pain. Dr. Rowbotham received the Wilbert E. Fordyce Clinical Investigator Award from the American Pain Society in 2011.


Publication Search


Patel KV, Allen R, Burke L, Farrar JT, Gewandter JS, Gilron I, Katz NP, Markman JD, Marshall SF, Resnick M, Rice ASC, Rowbotham MC, Smith SM, Vanhove GF, Wasan AD, Zhang S, Dworkin RH, Turk DC, Evaluation of composite responder outcomes of pain intensity and physical function in neuropathic pain clinical trials: an ACTTION individual patient data analysis. Pain

Smith SM, Dworkin RH, Turk DC, Baron R, Polydefkis M, Tracey I, Borsook D, Edwards RR, Harris RE, Wager TD, Arendt-Nielsen L, Burke LB, Carr DB, Chappell A, Farrar JT, Freeman R, Gilron I, Goli V, Haeussler J, Jensen T, Katz NP, Kent J, Kopecky EA, Lee DA, Maixner W, Markman JD, McArthur JC, McDermott MP, Parvathenani L, Raja SN, Rappaport BA, Rice ASC, Rowbotham MC, Tobias JK, Wasan AD, Witter J, The Potential Role of Sensory Testing, Skin Biopsy, and Functional Brain Imaging as Biomarkers in Chronic Pain Clinical Trials: IMMPACT Considerations. J Pain

Grady C, Cummings SR, Rowbotham MC, McConnell MV, Ashley EA, Kang G, Informed Consent. N Engl J Med

Gewandter JS, Kitt RA, Hunsinger MR, Poku J, Lozano J, Chaudari J, Evans S, Gross RA, McDermott MP, Rowbotham MC, Turk DC, Dworkin RH, Reporting of data monitoring boards in publications of randomized clinical trials is often deficient: ACTTION systematic review. J Clin Epidemiol

Williams MR, McKeown A, Pressman Z, Hunsinger M, Lee K, Coplan P, Gilron I, Katz NP, McDermott MP, Raja SN, Rappaport BA, Rowbotham MC, Turk DC, Dworkin RH, Smith SM, Adverse Event Reporting in Clinical Trials of Intravenous and Invasive Pain Treatments: An ACTTION Systematic Review. J Pain

Tranah GJ, Yaffe K, Katzman SM, Lam ET, Pawlikowska L, Kwok PY, Schork NJ, Manini TM, Kritchevsky S, Thomas F, Newman AB, Harris TB, Coleman AL, Gorin MB, Helzner EP, Rowbotham MC, Browner WS, Cummings SR, Health, Aging and Body Composition Study., Mitochondrial DNA Heteroplasmy Associations With Neurosensory and Mobility Function in Elderly Adults. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci

Michael C. Rowbotham, M.D. , Senior Scientist; Scientific Director of CPMCRI
Primary Research Interests
  • Mechanisms, natural history, and management of chronic neuropathic pain
  • Clinical trial design
  • Opioid analgesic tolerance
  • Incorporation of human experimental pain models into testing of new analgesic agents