Dr. Kara Margolis Named Director of the NYU Pain Research Center


Kara Gross Margolis, MD, has been named Director of the NYU Pain Research Center, effective May 1, 2024. Dr. Margolis is a pediatric gastroenterologist with internationally recognized clinical expertise in brain-gut axis disorders, including abdominal pain-associated disorders of gut-brain interaction (DGBI) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). She is a tenured associate professor in the Department of Molecular Pathobiology at NYU Dentistry as well the Departments of Cell Biology and Pediatrics at NYU Langone.

The NYU Pain Research Center, located at NYU College of Dentistry, was created in 2022 to expedite scientific exploration of the fundamental mechanisms underlying chronic and cancer pain, with a focus on the development of non-opioid alternatives for pain treatment.

At NYU since June of 2022, Dr. Margolis has served as the NYU Pain Research Center’s Associate Director of Clinical and Translational Research and the Director of Gut-Brain Science. She is currently a standing member of the NIH Digestive, Kidney and Urological Systems (DKUS) study section. She serves on the editorial board for Gastroenterology, the most prominent journal in the field of gastrointestinal disease, as well as the Basic Science Committee for the Rome Foundation — an international organization that establishes the Rome V criteria for DGBI. Dr. Margolis previously held a tenured position as associate professor of pediatrics at Columbia University where she served as associate director of a P30 NIH funded Digestive and Liver Disease Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center, associate director for an adult and pediatric gastrointestinal T32 NIH training grant, and inaugural director of the pediatric physician-scientist program.

As a physician-scientist, Dr. Margolis spearheads clinical, translational, and basic science research programs focused on understanding fundamental mechanisms of gut-brain interactions and gut-focused therapeutic strategies for DGBI, abdominal pain, mood (depression and anxiety) and neurobehavioral disorders, such as ASD. She has submitted a variety of U.S. provisional patent applications related to treatment or prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis as well as the treatment of depression and anxiety. Dr. Margolis has garnered substantial support for her scientific work. Her research is currently funded by multiple NIH R01 and Department of Defense grants, as well as foundations and pharmaceutical collaborations, totaling nearly $10 million in total costs. She maintains a clinical practice at NYU Langone Health.

In her new leadership role at the NYU Pain Research Center, Dr. Margolis will utilize her expertise as a physician-scientist and administrator to build national and international translational research networks and training programs. A like-minded cohort of scientists at the center has garnered over $60 million in extramural grant support, including a recent $8 million award to study oral cancer pain from the NIH HEAL initiative, an NIH-wide effort to expedite solutions that combat the opioid crisis. 

“Dr. Kara Margolis’s demonstrated leadership and robust portfolio of clinical, translational, and basic science research make her ideally suited to lead the NYU Pain Research Center at this time,” said Dr. Charles N. Bertolami, Herman Robert Fox Dean of NYU Dentistry. “Having Dr. Margolis, a physician-scientist, at the helm of this important initiative bodes well for the future of pain research and treatment – and for ultimately improving the lives of dental and medical patients suffering from pain.”