Center of Excellence in Pain Education (CoEPE)

CoEPE 2012-13

This unique project funded by an award from the National Institutes of Health Pain Consortium brings together 21 interdisciplinary faculty members from six health sciences schools at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Chicago to create six interprofessional web-based educational modules that will reach nearly 700 new students each year.

"The Pitt center, one of 12 in the nation, will bring together five schools of the health sciences — dental medicine, health and rehabilitation sciences, medicine, nursing and pharmacy — to help ameliorate what Weiner calls 'the serious gap in pain education for providers that is causing a lot of current problems with health care and pain management.'"

~ Marty Levine, University Times New pain education center opens


Center Director: Debra K. Weiner, MD

Center Co-Director: Heiko Spallek, DMD PhD, MSBA(CIS)


CoEPE 2015-20

The National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded the University of Pittsburgh a $907,931 (Approved: $383,510; Pending: $507,083) federal contract for the "University of Pittsburgh, Center of Excellence in Pain Education: Pain Challenges in Primary Care.” Twenty-two faculty from five of the Health Science Schools will collaborate to develop interactive virtual cases ranging from opioid misuse following wisdom teeth extraction to widespread pain and fibromyalgia. The expertise of participating faculty includes dental medicine, general internal medicine, geriatric medicine, palliative care, rheumatology, neurology, pain medicine, anesthesiology, psychiatry, pediatrics, education, instructional design, instructional technology, chiropractic, nursing and pharmacy.

The cases will be used for a national curriculum resource addressing the Institute of Medicine’s finding that the healthcare system is deficient in managing pain, stating that “[e]ffective pain management is a moral imperative, a professional responsibility, and the duty of people in the healing professions.” The cases will be deployed using an advanced electronic learning management system and a virtual patient platform developed at the University of Pittsburgh (vpSim), which then will be integrated in the curriculum of all Health Science Schools providing a wide range of interprofessional education opportunities. NIDA will disseminate the cases nationwide for inclusion in health sciences curricula.


September-November 2016

Center Director: Heiko Spallek, DMD, PhD, MSBA(CIS) 
Center Co-Director: Debra K. Weiner, MD 
Center Co-Director: Zsuzsa Horváth, PhD 

December 2016-August 2018 

Center Director: Zsuzsa Horváth, PhD 
Center Co-Director: Debra K. Weiner, MD 
Center Co-Director: Heiko Spallek, DMD, PhD, MSBA(CIS) 

September 2018-present

Center Director: Zsuzsa Horváth, PhD 
Center Co-Director: Debra K. Weiner, MD 


News: The National Institutes of Health Pain Consortium has released the first module on Chronic Low Back Pain in an Older Adult. An offical preview is available at Read the entire NIH press release at

Learning Modules

The six interactive learning modules include:


Please continue to check this page. As the modules are approved and released by the NIH Pain Consortium, the above list will become active and link to each individual web-module and its freely accessible content. For now, please enjoy a short video showcasing the production to date.

Centers of Excellence in Pain Education: University of Pittsburgh on Vimeo.


Please contact Dr. Zsuzsa Horváth ( or Dr. Debra Weiner ( if you are using any of the cases in your course.


CoEPE: University of Pittsburgh Directors

Dr. Zsuzsu HorváthCenter Director: Zsuzsa Horváth, PhD,  Assistant Professor in Department of Dental Public Health and Director of Faculty Development in the Office Faculty Affairs at the School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Horváth is also Director of the Academic Career Track Area of Concentration (ACT ARCO) and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Dental Education.



Dr. Debra K. WeinerCenter Co-Director: Debra K. Weiner, MD, is a Diplomate in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology and has a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Geriatric Medicine. Dr. Weiner holds joint appointments as a Professor in the Division of Geriatric Medicine and the Departments of Psychiatry and Anesthesiology. Dr. Weiner serves on editorial boards, and is a reviewer for numerous journals in Pain Management and Geriatrics.



Dr. Heiko SpallekCenter Co -Director: Heiko Spallek, DMD, PhD, MSBA(CIS) serves as Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at the School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh where he is also appointed as Associate Professor at the Center for Dental Informatics with secondary appointments in the Department of Biomedical Informatics and the School of Information Sciences.



Additional Information

National Institutes of Health CoEPE press release
NIH Pain Consortium CoEPE home page
Univeristy of Pittsburgh University Times press release