Physician Photo

Gary Jay (Gary) Brenner, MD, PhD

Director, MGH Pain Medicine Fellowship

Gary J. Brenner, MD, PhD, currently sees patients at the Massachusetts General Hospital Pain Center and is the Director of the MGH Pain Medicine Fellowship. He is an Assistant Professor in Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School.

  • Phone: 617-726-8810
Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine
Clinical Interests
Treatment of chronic pain, both medical and interventional.
Treatment of pain due to spinal degeneration
Treatment of pain due to nerve injury
Treatment of cancer-related pain
Spinal cord stimulation for pain managment.
Boston: Massachusetts General Hospital
Medical Education
MD, PhD, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Residency, Massachusetts General Hospital
Fellowship, Massachusetts General Hospital
Board Certifications
Pain Medicine, American Board of Anesthesiology
Patient Age Group
Accepting New Patients
Accepting New Patients


Gary J. Brenner, MD, PhD, currently sees patients at the Massachusetts General Hospital Pain Center where he is the Director of the MGH Pain Medicine Fellowship. He is an Assistant Professor in Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School. He also conducts neuroscience research that investigates mechanisms of pain hypersensitivity, and has authored more than 30 articles, reviews, chapters, and abstracts on the pathophysiology of pain, basic pain mechanisms and immune function, and clinical approaches to chronic pain. Dr. Brenner currently has several national leadership positions related to pain medicine education/training.


Research Areas

  • Development animal models and gene therapy for the neurofibromatoses.
  • Investigation of nociceptive circuits in the brain utilizing behavioral testing and functional imaging in the context of optogenetic odulation.

Description of Research   

My laboratory currently focuses efforts on two projects.  The first involves the development of novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of Schwann-cell derived nerve sheath tumors.  In particular, we are utilizing adenovirus associated vectors to deliver caspase-1 to tumor cells.  Delivery of this apoptosis-generating transgene both directly kills tumor cells in which it is expressed and activates anti-tumor host responses.  We are investigating the mechanisms through which our vector kills tumor and are developing the therapeutic strategy for translation into phase 0/1 clinical trials.

The second project utilizes optogenetic modulation of brain circuits to investigate nociceptive processing that occurs in the context of nociceptive sensitization associated with peripheral nerve injury.  This approach may improve the positive predictive value for preclinical modeling of clinical pain.


  • Brenner GJ, Felten SY, Felten DL, Cohen N and Moynihan JA.  Chemical sympathectomy is associated with increased pulmonary metastases.  Journal of Neuroimmunology.  1992;37:191-202.
  • Brenner GJ, Cohen N and Moynihan JA.  Similar immune response to nonlethal infection with Herpes Simplex virus-1 in sensitive (BALB/c) and resistant (C57Bl/6) mice.  Cellular Immunology.  1994;157:510-24.
  • Ji RR, Baba H, Brenner GJ and Woolf CJ. Nociceptive specific activation of ERK in spinal neurons contributes to pain hypersensitivity.  Nature Neuroscience. 1999;2:1114-9.
  • Prabhakar S, Brenner GJ, Tannous BA, Sena-Esteves M and Breakefield XO.  Imaging and therapy of experimental schwannomas using HSV amplicon vector encoding apoptotic protein under control of a Schwann cell promoter.  Cancer Gene Therapy.  2010;17(4):266-74.
  • Saydam O, Ozdener GB, Senol O, Mizrak A, Prabhakar  P, Stemmer-Rachamimov AO, Breakefield XO and Brenner GJ.  A novel imaging-compatible sciatic nerve schwannoma model.  Journal of Neuroscience Methods. 2011:195(1)75-77.
  • Brenner GJ, Nemark JL and Raemer D. A Curriculum and Cases for Pain Medicine Crisis Resource Management Education.  Anesthesia and Analgesia. In press.
  • Prabhakar S, Taherian M, Gianni D, Conlon TJ, Fulci J, Brockmann J, Stemmer-Rachamimov A, Sena-Esteves M,  Breakefield XO and Brenner GJ. Regression of Schwannomas induced by AAV-Mediated Delivery of Caspase-1. Human Gene Therapy. In press.

Selected publications

Center for Pain Medicine
15 Parkman Street
Boston, MA 02114-3117

Phone: 617-726-8810
Fax: 617-726-3441