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The Barker Lab was awarded the Grossman Innovation Prize. The Prize, named for Alan H. Grossman, provides funding for proof-of-concept studies that allow faculty innovators to develop product ideas with the hope that these nascent products might eventually transform into an independent business or attract venture capital funding.

His work has recently focused on an 'orphan' receptor—a key protein for communication in the brain with no known binding target—that shows promise in promoting pain relief without triggering the addictive response associated with opioid receptors. Addiction to opioid prescription painkillers has fueled a public health crisis over decades that has destroyed lives and devastated communities.