Lab Members

Principal Investigator:

Howard B. Gutstein, MD


The primary focus of Dr. Gutstein’s research has been the molecular mechanism underlying the development of opioid tolerance and dependence and the interactions between pain and analgesic signaling. Opioids such as morphine are the most effective pain treatments currently available.  However, these drugs are ineffective against many types of cancer pain, and with chronic use, the efficacy of opioids decreases as tolerance develops. Dr. Gutstein has utilized proteomics, Drosophila genetics, as well as behavioral neuropharmacology in an effort to determine a priori which signaling adaptations can cause maladaptive changes in response to pain or narcotics. Recently, Dr. Gutstein has identified a mechanism responsible for opioid tolerance and was the first to demonstrate that mechanisms underlying tolerance can be completely dissociated from the pain-relieving effects of opioids. He has also identified ways to eliminate or reverse tolerance in vivo. Dr. Gutstein has also determined the reason why opioids are ineffective in cases of neuropathic pain

Post-doctoral Associates:

Stephanie Puig, PhD-

Stephanie’s current research focuses on understanding the involvement of growth factors in opioid analgesic tolerance. Her approach combines behavioral, biochemical, immunohistochemical and cell culture methods. She hopes that her findings will help to untangle the complicated mechanisms that lead to opioid inefficacy in the context of tolerance and neuropathic pain. She has a strong interest in working with a translational research approach in order to make her studies relevant to the clinic.

She holds a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Paris Descartes (France), where she studied the influence of the pattern of cocaine administration on behavioral and neurochemical modifications in the mesolimbic system in rats.

In her spared time, Stephanie loves to dance and read as well as to do outdoors activities (horse riding, biking), but what she loves the most is to spend time with her family and her friends!

Roger Lopez-Bellido, PhD-

My long-term career goal is to better understand pain mechanisms and to discover new analgesic drugs more effective and safe than morphine. I have developed expertise in different animal models of pain (mouse, rat, zebrafish, toad, and drosophila).

Ultimately, I plan to perform research independently on pain, and hopefully find better analgesic drugs to benefit of the many patients who suffer with intractable pain.

In my free time I like jogging, play soccer, and share with my family and friends

Research Staff:

Kevin Redding

Kevin received his Bachelor’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA in 2004. He then went on to obtain his Master’s degree in Microbiology from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA in 2007.  He is the Senior Lab Manager for the Gutstein lab and excited to learn more about pain and opioid tolerance.  Although he graduated from Peters Township High School in 2000, he recently moved back to the Pittsburgh area with his wife and son.

Peter Kann-

Shelby Szott- Shelby is a Junior at the University of Pittsburgh Honors College, Neuroscience major.  She assists Stephanie in computing research data collected from the basic research while maintaining full-time student status.

Jeremy Gedeon – Jeremy received his Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh in 2016.  He worked in pain research at the University through his undergraduate career, and continued to work as a technician for a year while applying to graduate school.

Having a Pain Management Physician for a father, Jeremy has been immersed in the pain field his entire life.  His goal is to contribute to both the fields of medicine and neuroscience through an understanding of the mechanisms behind the dangerous opiate side effects and how they may be dissociated from their analgesic benefits. Hopefully, these findings will lead to a more refined treatment for combating chronic pain.

In his free time, Jeremy enjoys playing guitar, climbing, and exploring the city with his friends.