LB3P: Low Back Pain Research Study

Study Overview

The LB3P: Low Back Pain Research Study is a Mechanistic Research Center funded through a U19 award from the National Institutes of Health's HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-Term) Initiative, a strategic effort to combat the opioid epidemic in the United States. The LB3P Center is a member of the BACPAC (Back Pain Consortium), 13 research sites, which will work together to develop an integrated model of chronic low back pain to guide the future study and treatment of this condition. This study is conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Departments of Physical Therapy, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Psychiatry, and Orthopaedic Surgery. The Principal Investigators on the study are PM&R's Dr. Gwen Sowa and Dr. Nam Vo (Dept. of Orthopaedic Surgery).

The LB3P Center is an innovative, multidisciplinary collaboration of investigators at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh. The Center will collect data from three key contributing domains of chronic low back pain: biological, biomechanical, and behavioral. The data will be analyzed to perform in-depth phenotyping of patients with chronic low back pain with the goal of characterizing patients and directing targeted treatments. This is a novel, integrated biopsychosocial approach to combat such a complex and multi-dimensional condition.

UPMC Press Release on the grant.

Over the next four years, the LB3P hopes to recruit 1,000 study participants to help with the collection of biological, biomechanical, and behavioral data. Participants will be asked to answer questionnaires, perform functional assessments, and submit to collecting biological samples. Testing and collection will take place at the Physical Therapy - Clinical and Translational Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh. The PT-CTRC is a state-of-the-art facility that will serve as the hub for study participation. Interested persons must be over age 18, experiencing ongoing low back pain for more than 3 months in the last 6 months. Individuals chosen to participate will be compensated for their time.

Research Team


Study Staff

Selena Crawford, Project Manager

Jessa Darwin, Communications Manager

Marit E. Johnson, PhD, Biomechanics Core Project Manager

Corey Flynn, Clinical Core Research Project Coordinator

Lisa Bemis, Biodynamics Lab Manager

Participant Information

Interested participants must be 18 years of age and older, and have experienced low back pain for more than 3 months in the last 6 months. Visit our patient portal for more information about the study and to see if you qualify for participation.

Visit the study's page on the Pitt+Me registry to see if you're eligible to participate. CLICK HERE.

Research Opportunity to Enhance Diversity with LB3P Project

The NIH is currently offering ancillary funding that will support the work of high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students to post-doctoral candidates from diverse backgrounds that are underrepresented in research. Applicants must be US Citizens. Funding range is $5,000 to $100,000 depending on researcher level. Complete list of underrepresented populations is at:

FOA number: PA-20-222

Proposal deadlines for 2021 are:
February 15
May 15
November 15

Those interested in applying or learning more about the research study, contact Jessa Darwin (