Srinivasa Raja, MD, Professor, Division of Pain Medicine and Pain Research

Dr. Srinivasa Raja has been on faculty at Johns Hopkins since July of 1981. Dr. Raja sees patients in the outpatient Blaustein Pain Treatment Center and provides consultation for hospitalized patients with acute or chronic pain. He treats in-patients for pain that stems from many different conditions, including sickle cell crisis, acute exacerbation of chronic abdominal disease, back pain after neurosurgery, and cancer-related pain, among others. In the out-patient clinic, Dr. Raja treats patients with back pain; nerve root pain (radiculopathy), which can also result in weakness, numbness, or loss of muscle control; chronic neuropathic pain, such as persistent pain after shingles (known as post-herpetic neuralgia); amputation and phantom limb pain; cancer pain; and peripheral neuropathies such as diabetic neuropathy and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

Treatment options for these types of pain currently include medication, selective nerve blocks, epidural steroids, radiofrequency nerve ablation, and a high-dose capsaicin patch. If he determines that spinal cord stimulation would be of benefit, Dr. Raja will refer the patient to one of three doctors in the Blaustein Pain Treatment Center who perform this procedure. Likewise, he will refer patients to an appropriate surgical team if he deems it necessary. Dr. Raja has been named one of America’s top doctors and one of Baltimore’s top doctors in pain management.

In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Raja has a long history of pain medicine research. His laboratory is actively working to develop new pain-relieving drugs that will target the sites of pain generation in the peripheral nervous system, rather than sites in the brain, where drugs such as morphine act. Peripherally acting drugs would be advantageous because they would not cause central side effects, such as sedation and dizziness, and would be less likely to be addictive. His research team is also investigating the mechanism by which spinal cord stimulation reduces pain and is working to optimize its performance.  He is an invited member of the Steering Committee of the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, which harmonizes all efforts across federal agencies and other departments that support research related to pain.

Dr. Raja plays an active role in the international pain community. He was the chair of the Scientific Program Committee for the World Congress on Pain in 2014 and is currently Secretary of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). He also serves as the chair of the Neuropathic Pain Special Interest Group in IASP. Dr. Raja has won numerous awards for his work, including the Wilbert E. Fordyce Clinical Investigator Award from the American Pain Society (2008) and the prestigious John J. Bonica Award from the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (2010).
Education: Dr. Raja attended medical school in India before coming to the U.S., where he completed his residency in Anesthesiology at the University of Washington, Seattle, in 1979. He also undertook postdoctoral research training at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville from 1979 to 1981. He was awarded the Diplomate of the American Board of Anesthesiology in 1982, added Qualifications in Pain Management in 1993, and was recertified in 2002. He became a diplomate of the American Board of Pain Medicine in 2015.