Work in the Sivanesan Neuromodulation Laboratory (SNL) focuses on developing electrical stimulation therapies for treating neuropathic pain conditions and discovering novel applications for patients suffering from painful conditions. We study mechanisms of all modalities of spinal cord stimulation in the laboratory and aim to rapidly translate these discoveries to new treatments for chronic pain conditions. This bench to bedside approach facilitates a unique integration of the latest science with the clinical care of patients.


Division of Pain Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology
The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
600 N. Wolfe Street
Phipps Building, Room 460
Baltimore, MD 21287
Phone: (410)-955-1822
Fax: (410)-614-2019

Principal Investigator: Eellan Sivanesan, MD, FASA is Director of Neuromodulation, Assistant Professor, and a Clinician-Scientist at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He treats patients with cancer, back, joint, facial, neuropathic, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), post-amputation, and complex pain conditions at the Blaustein Pain Treatment Center. He is an active committee member of the International Neuromodulation Society (INS), the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA), the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) and the North American Neuromodulation Society (NANS).

He specializes in advanced interventional techniques including neuromodulation with Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG) stimulation, peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS), field stimulation, craniofacial stimulation and intrathecal drug delivery systems (IDDS). In the laboratory, his overlapping research investigations are aimed at discovering the mechanisms of action involved in pain relief with electrical stimulation, particularly for cancer pain conditions such as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.

Karla Sanchez, M.S., is a neuroscientist with a background in animal behavior, cell culture, and molecular techniques. Her expertise contributes to our in the study of signaling pathways involved in chronic pain and neurodegenerative disorders.

Anthony Palilla, M.S., is a biomedical engineer with a background in medical device innovation and commercialization. His expertise contributes to our development of new waveforms and electrical stimulation modalities.

Advisory Committee and Collaborators:

Dr. Sivanesan’s research benefits from close collaboration with leaders in neuroscience, oncology, neurosurgery, and anesthesiology, including his scientific mentor Drs. Yun Guan.

Dr. Yun Guan, Ph.D., M.D., is a Professor of Anesthesiology and Neurosurgery, and an expert in neuropathic pain and neuromodulation. He has extensive experience using neuropathic pain models to study peripheral, spinal and supraspinal mechanisms of persistent pain with the goal and develop novel treatment. 

Dr. Lei Zheng, MD, PhD, is a Clinician-Scientist, Associate Professor of Oncology and Surgery, and an expert in tumor immunology and the tumor microenvironment. He is affiliated with the Cancer Immunology Program as an NCI-funded laboratory investigator and as a clinical oncologist.

Dr. Michael Lim, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery, Oncology, Otolaryngology, and Radiation Oncology and Radiation Molecular Sciences, and he is Director of the Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program. He is an NCI-funded laboratory investigator and neurosurgeon who studies the effect of chemotherapy on the immune system and chemo-efficacy.

Dr. Xinzhong Dong, PhD, is a Professor of Neuroscience, Neurosurgery, and Dermatology, and a HHMI Investigator that is an expert in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of different types of somatosensation, including pain.

Dr. Allan Bezberg, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery, Director of the Peripheral Nerve Center, and co-Director of the Neurosurgery Pain Research Institute.

Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a common dose-limiting toxicity of
cancer treatment that often presents with debilitating pain, yet no effective preventative or
treatment strategies exist. While the number of cancer survivors has significantly increased with advancements in modern medicine, survivors are often unable to maintain a functional daily life due to severe pain from CIPN. We are examining spinal cord stimulation (SCS) as a promising non-pharmacologic strategy for CIPN pain and other cancer pain conditions.

SCS is a minimally invasive device that has been utilized for decades to treat chronic pain conditions; however, it has not been well studied for cancer-related pain conditions such as CIPN.

Sivanesan, E., Levitt, R.C., Sarantopoulos, C.D., Patin, D., Galor, A. Noninvasive Electrical Stimulation for the Treatment of Chronic Ocular Pain and Photophobia. Neuromodulation. 2017; 21(8): 727-734.

Stephens, K.E., Chen, Z., Sivanesan, E., Raja, S.N., Linderoth, B., Taverna, S.D. and Guan, Y. RNA-seq of spinal cord from nerve-injured rats after spinal cord stimulation. Molecular Pain. 2018; 14.

Chen, Z., Yang, F, Huang Q., Shi, C., Sivanesan, E., He, S., Liu ,S., Grenald, S., Chen, X., Vera-Portocarrero, L., Linderoth, B., Raja, S.N., Guan. Y. Pain inhibition and the impact of electrical charge delivery by subthreshold spinal cord stimulation in rats after nerve injury. Neuromodulation. 2018; 22(2): 163-171.

Sivanesan, E., Maher, D.P., Raja, S.N., Linderoth, B. and Guan, Y. Supraspinal Mechanisms of Spinal
Cord Stimulation for Modulation of Pain: Five Decades of Research and Prospects for the Future. Anesthesiology. 2018; 130(4), 651-665.

Huang, Q., Duan, W., Sivanesan, E., Liu, S., Yang, F., Chen, Z., Ford, N.C., Chen, X. and Guan, Y. Spinal Cord Stimulation for Pain Treatment After Spinal Cord Injury. Neuroscience Bulletin. 2018; 343: 1-13.

Sivanesan, E.*, Bicket, M.C. and Cohen, S.P. (2019). Retrospective analysis of complications associated with dorsal root ganglion stimulation for pain relief in the FDA MAUDE database. Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine. 100-106.

Sivanesan, E.*, A. Gulati. Resurgence of peripheral nerve stimulation with innovation in device technologies. Regional anesthesia and pain medicine. 2019; 44(6), 615.

Sivanesan, E.*, Cohen, S.P. Letter to the Editor: Response to Safety Analysis of Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation in the Treatment of Chronic Pain. Neuromodulation. 2019.

Yang, F., Duan, W., Huang, Q., Chen, Z., Ford, N., Gao, X., Sivanesan, E., Sarma, S.V., Vera-Portocarrero, L.P., Linderoth, B., Raja, S.N., Guan, Y. Modulation of spinal nociceptive transmission by sub-sensory threshold spinal cord stimulation in rats after nerve injury. Neuromodulation. 2019.

Sivanesan, E., Stephens, K.E., Huang, Q., Chen, Z., Ford, N.C., Duan, W., He, S.Q., Linderoth B., Raja S.N., Guan, Y. Spinal Cord Stimulation Inhibits the Development of Mechanical and Cold Hypersensitivity and Modulates Spinal Gene Expression after Paclitaxel-induced Peripheral Neuropathy in Rats. Pain Reports. 2019.

Sivanesan, E., Cohen, S.P. Neuromodulation for Pain Treatment: Building a Foundation for Future Study. Anesthesiology. 2020.