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Beth Darnall, PhD, is a Stanford professor, pain scientist, international speaker, evidence-based psychologist, and author.

I am Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and Director of the Stanford Pain Relief Innovations Lab. I am principal investigator for $25 million in research awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

Having lived through my own chronic pain experience, I create and investigate treatments that work alongside medical pain treatments and empower individuals to have best control over their pain and symptoms.

My innovations include ultra-brief, digital, scalable, low-cost pain treatments that are widely accessible to patients and easy for clinics to adopt.


I created Empowered Relief®, a 1-session intervention that rapidly equips individuals with pain relief skills for chronic pain, acute pain, and for surgical recovery. Through Stanford University, we provide international clinician certification trainings. Empowered Relief® is being delivered in 26 countries and 7 languages. We have tailored the proven Empowered Relief® formula to meet the specific needs of various populations (e.g., surgery, acute injury, general chronic pain, prescription opioid challenges, youth, and Veterans).

Other key highlights

  1. Keynote speaker at national pain society conferences in the Netherlands, Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, the U.K., and Switzerland.
  2. Three times testified to the U.S. Congress and once to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the need for whole-person patient-centered pain care and patient protections in accessing needed pain treatments and medications.
  3. Adviser to the CDC on the revising of the 2016 opioid prescribing guideline (2020-2021).
  4. Board of Directors of the American Academy of Pain Medicine (2021-2024)
  5. Scientific member of the NIH Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (2021-2024)
  6. Speaker, 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
  7. Featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, Scientific American, NPR Radio, BBC Radio, TIME MagazineNature, and others.
  8. Author/co-author of five books, including Psychological Treatment for Chronic Pain © 2018 American Psychological Association Press.
  9. Chief Science Advisor at AppliedVR, a digital therapeutics company that integrated my approach into an immersive, home-based pain treatment device that has been shown to impart lasting effects up to 2 years after use.

I advocate against broad, forced prescription opioid tapering for people with chronic pain, and in 2018, I led a letter to the U.S. Health and Human Services that published in Pain Medicine.  In 2022, along with co-author Dr. Howard Fields, I published an open access perspective in PAIN® that provided evidence against forced opioid tapering.


  • PhD: University of Colorado at Boulder, Clinical Psychology
  • Clinical Internship: Southern Arizona VA Health Care System
  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship: The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health

To learn more about Beth, please visit her Stanford profile page or download a PDF of her CV.

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