Sean Mackey, M.D., Ph.D.

Sean Mackey, M.D., Ph.D.

Pain management specialist, Anesthesiologist

Redlich Professor, Professor of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine and, by courtesy, of Neurology

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I am Redlich Professor and Chief of the Division of Stanford Pain Medicine. I am a physician-scientist trained and experienced in neuroimaging, psychophysics, public health, health policy, patient outcomes and medical education. I am guided by our group’s mission “To Predict, Prevent and Alleviate Pain” which encompasses my three goals: (1) define the factors that cause pain to become chronic after injury or surgery, (2) discover and implement novel methods to prevent the persistence or chronification of pain, and (3) discover and test novel therapies to alleviate chronic pain. This vision statement informs the multidisciplinary group I have assembled and the tools my team and I use: advanced neuroimaging, psychophysical and neurobehavioral assessment, genomics, patient- and clinician-reported outcomes, and assessment of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

I have served as principle investigator on multiple NIH awards (PO1, multiple R01’s, U01, K24, T32). Additionally, I hold two endowments that provide the flexible research funds to pursue innovative projects and support our junior investigators. I am the author of over 200 journal articles and book chapters in addition to numerous national and international lectures. Broadly, some of my current research falls into two categories: (1) Characterizing CNS mechanisms of the human pain experience and its modulation and using this to develop biomarkers and (2) development and use of an open-source learning healthcare system (CHOIR; to transform the care of people with pain, and serve as a platform for innovative research in real-world clinic patients. Additionally, we are investigating novel therapies for pain including: transcranial magnetic stimulation, virtual reality, psychological and pharmacological therapies.

Clinical: Under my leadership, the Stanford Pain Management Center has been twice designated a Center of Excellence by the American Pain Society for the Center’s innovative approach in comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and outcomes-based care. We have one of the largest academic pain centers in the country, Stanford Pain Management Center ( with multiple physicians from different disciplines, psychologists, physical therapists, nursing, nutritionists and other professionals all working together to understand and treat the person in pain.

Mentorship: I am the Program Director for our NIH T32 postdoctoral training program “Interdisciplinary Training in Pain and/or Substance Use Disorders”. Furthermore, I have an NIH K24 which funds time to mentor and develop junior investigators. I have a long track record in mentoring of researchers and clinicians to develop their own successful careers.

Leadership: I am Past-President of the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM). I co-authored the Institutes of Medicine’s report on Relieving Pain in America and was Co-Chair of the Oversight Committee for the HHS/NIH National Pain Strategy (NPS), an effort to establish a national health strategy for pain care, education and research. I have received multiple awards for leadership, teaching, research and clinical care.

Professional Summary

Professional Education
  • Fellowship: Stanford University Pain Management Fellowship (1999) CA
  • Residency: Stanford University Anesthesiology Residency (1998) CA
  • Medical Education: University of Arizona College of Medicine Office of the Registrar (1994) AZ
  • Internship: Tucson Medical Center Medical Education Program (1995) AZ
  • Board Certification: American Board of Anesthesiology, Pain Management (2000)
  • Board Certification: American Board of Anesthesiology, Anesthesia (1999)
  • M.D., University of Arizona, Medicine (1994)
  • Ph.D., University of Arizona, Electrical Engineering (1994)
  • M.S.E, University of Pennsylvania, Bioengineering (1986)
  • B.S.E., University of Pennsylvania, Bioengineering (1986)

Honors & Awards
  • Applications of Real Time fMRI, NIH R43MH067290 (2002-2004)
  • Applications of Real Time fMRI-Phase II, NIH R44 NS050642 (2004-2007)
  • Central Mechanisms of Urologic Pelvic Pain: Functional and Structural Analysis by MRI, NIH U01 DK082316 (2008-2013)
  • Characterization & Optimization of RF Catheter Ablation for the Treatment of Cardiac Arrhythmias, American Heart Association Fellowship (1990-1991)
  • Chris Redlich Endowment in Pain Research, Chris Redlich Endowment Fund (2009-forever)
  • Clinical Center of Excellence, American Pain Society (2012)
  • Cognitive Neurosciences Grant, Clark Center for Bioengeneering, Biomedicine & Bioscience (2000)
  • Development and Applications of Real Time fMRI Technology, Stanford Bio-X (2009-2010)
  • Development of a Human Neuropathic Pain Model, Stanford University (1999-2007)
  • Distinguished Service Award, American Academy of Pain Medicine (2017)
  • Dodie and John Rosekrans Pain Research Endowment Fund, Dodie and John Rosekrans Pain Research Endowment Fund (2001 - forever)
  • Duloxetine: Functional MRI Neural Correlates of Efficacy in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain, Eli Lilly (2006-2009)
  • Electrical and Thermal Characterization of Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation, American College of Cardiology Research Grant (1994)
  • Ellis Cohen Achievement Award, Department of Anesthesia, Stanford University (2010)
  • Fellowship Grant, Arthritis Foundation (2006-2007)
  • fMRI of Pain in the Human Spinal Cord, NIH R01 NS053961 (2006-2010)
  • Imaging Neural Systems in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Foundation for Anesthesia Education & Research (2004-2006)
  • Interventional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Applied to Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, Stanford University (1999-2003)
  • Learned Control of Frontal and Limbic Systems via Real-Time fMRI, NIH R21 DA026092 (2009-2011)
  • Low-Dose Naltrexone in the Treatment of Fibromyalgia, American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association (2008-2009)
  • Mechanisms of Analgesic Response During IV Lidocaine Infusion in Neuropathic Pain Patients, Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (2007-2008)
  • Mechanisms of Opioid-Induced Hyperalgesia in Pain Patients: Examination via fMRI, NIH K99/R00 DA023609 (2007-2011)
  • Neuroimaging and Mentoring in Translational Pain Research, NIH K24 DA029262 (2010-2015)
  • NIH Directors Award, National Institutes of Health (2015)
  • Optimal Control of Transvenous Catheter Ablation in the Treatment of Tachyarrhythmias, NIH Short Term Research Fellowship (1989-1994)
  • Pain Medicine Fellowship Award, American Academy of Pain Medicine (2017)
  • Pain Medicine Fellowship Excellence Award, American Academy of Pain Medicine (2019)
  • Prescription Opioid Use, Misuse, and Pain in Post-Surgical Patients, NIH K23 DA25152 (2008-2013)
  • Presidential Commendation, American Academy of Pain Medicine (2012)
  • Presidential Commendation, American Academy of Pain Medicine (2019)
  • Processing of Pain in the Human Central Nervous System: Analysis through fMRI, Stanford Office of Technology Licensing Grant (2001-2004)
  • Robert G. Addison, MD Award, American Academy of Pain Medicine (2020)
  • Stanford CAM Center for Chronic Back Pain, NIH P01 AT006651 (2011-2016)
  • Stanford CAM Center for Chronic Back Pain Supplement, NIH P01 AT006651S1 (2011-2012)
  • Teacher of the Month, Stanford Department of Anesthesia (2003)
  • Top Doctors in America, Published in "Guide to Top Doctors" (2002, 2004-2006, 2008, 2010, 2012-2015)
  • TV Catheter Delivery of Elec Energy to Ablate Arrhythmogenic Tissue..., Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society Research Fellowship (1991-1992)
  • U.S. News and World Report Top 1% of Pain Management Specialists, U.S. News and World Report (2012)
  • Use of NMDA-Antagonists and Opiates in the Treatment of Fibromyalgia, Oxnard Foundation (2001-2004)
  • Wilbert E. Fordyce Clinical Investigator Award, American Pain Society (2016)

Administrative Appointments
  • Assistant Professor, Anesthesia & Pain Management, Neurosciences, Stanford University (1999 - 2007)
  • Associate Director, Pain Management Division, Stanford University (2004 - 2007)
  • Associate Professor, Anesthesia & Pain Management, Neurosciences and (by courtesy) Neurology, Stanford University (2007 - 2012)
  • Chief, Division of Pain Medicine, Stanford University (2007 - Present)
  • Co-Director, Stanford Pain Research and Clinical Center (SPARCC) (2004 - Present)
  • Co-Director, Pain Working Group, Neuroscience Institute, Stanford University (2005 - Present)
  • Director, Stanford Systems Neuroscience and Pain Lab (SNAPL) (2002 - Present)
  • Director (and Co-Founder), Regional Anesthesia Services (2000 - 2006)
  • Fellowship Program Director, Pain Medicine, Stanford University (2007 - Present)
  • Redlich Professor, Anesthesia & Pain Management, Neurosciences and (by courtesy) Neurology, Stanford University (2012 - Present)


Specializing In

Practice Locations

Facial Pain Program Redwood City, CA
Redwood City, CA

450 Broadway Street, Pavilion A, 1st Floor

Redwood City , CA 94063

(650) 723-6469

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