Howard Fields, M.D., Ph.D, is Professor Emeritus of Neurology and Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He received his M.D. and Ph.D. in neuroscience at Stanford in 1965-66. After internal medicine training at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, and clinical neurology training at Harvard Medical School’s Boston City Hospital he joined the faculty at UCSF. His major interests are in the neurobiology of pain and substance abuse with a focus on how endogenous opioids contribute to reward and pain modulation. He was a founder of the UCSF pain clinic and has made major contributions to understanding and treating neuropathic pain. He was the first to demonstrate the clinical effectiveness of opioids for neuropathic pain and of topical lidocaine for post-herpetic neuralgia. In laboratory studies with Allan Basbaum he discovered and elucidated a pain modulating neural circuit that is required for opioids to produce analgesia and showed that descending pain modulation can either inhibit or enhance pain. With Jon Levine he published a landmark study demonstrating that placebo analgesia is mediated by endogenous opioids. He discovered a novel opioid action related to reward, identified nerve cells in the striatum that encode the magnitude of a reward and how the neurotransmitter dopamine contributes to motivation and reward. Dr. Fields has received numerous research awards including a Merit Award from the National Institutes of Health. In 1997 he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine and in 2010 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
- Berkeley, CA