Integrative Pain, Palliative, and Rehabilitation Medicine Physician and Geographer
Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, MD, PhD, FAAPMR (Fellow of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation), received his B.S. (High Honors) in Chemistry, B.A. (With Distinction) in Philosophy with Minor in Religious Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. He received his PhD (2008) in Geography (Medical) and MD (2010; Global Health Pathway) from the NIH-supported University of Washington Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) in Seattle, WA. As a NSF Graduate Research Fellow, he completed a dissertation entitled “The medical geography of cannabinoid botanicals in Washington state: Access, delivery, and distress.” He completed my Medicine Internship at Virginia Mason Med Ctr, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency at NYU, and Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship at the NIH Clinical Center-Pain and Palliative Care Service. He is board-certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and has Affiliated Professor or Clinical Faculty Appointments with the National Family Medicine Residency, University of Washington Geography Department, and University of Washington School of Medicine. He is an Associate Member of the New York Academy of Medicine and the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research.
His medical geographic scholarship interests are in geographies of access, delivery, and development of natural cannabinoid and psychedelic medicine, especially as they pertain to development in pain management, hospice and palliative medicine, and rehabilitation services. He is interested in global health equity, social medicine, and health and human rights, and uses a political ecology of health and disease approach to understand psychoactive biotic commons enclosures, seed sovereignty reclamation and use depathologization movements, and related therapeutic landscape formations. He conducted the first research with state-authorized medical cannabis-using patients in the United States under NIH-issued federal Certificates of Confidentiality, recruiting 176 subjects both from a pain specialty clinic and an urban medical cannabis dispensary along with interviewing the owner, defining pain and symptom burden and relief, health-related quality of life, and social psychological distress levels in such patients.
His first-author 2009 review article in the Journal of Opioid Management, “Medicinal Use of Cannabis in the United States: Historical Perspectives, Current Trends, and Future Directions” has been cited 142 times according to Google Scholar Citations tracker, including by the UN World Drug Report and has been translated into Spanish by the Social Science Research Council and cited in several textbooks. To facilitate closing the translational gap between cannabinoid medical science and clinical practice, he led the AMA to call in 2009 for a review of Cannabis Scheduling. His review article: “Cannabinergic Pain Medicine: A Concise Clinical Primer and Survey of Randomized Controlled Trial Results” was featured on the cover of the February 2013 issue of the Clinical Journal of Pain, the 8th top-ranked journal in Anesthesiology, as per Web of Science. A poster based on the findings of this article received a poster award at the 2013 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Annual Assembly. He has helped develop accredited clinician educational modules based on this work. He also wrote an entry “Cannabis for Symptom Control” for Fast Facts and Concepts, a standard reference that provides concise, practical, peer-reviewed and evidence-based summaries on key palliative care topics important to clinicians and trainees caring for patients facing serious illness. They are cross-published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, and are indexed by Medline. He recently co-wrote a chapter in a first-of-its-kind collection, The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Pain, on Pain and Controlled Pain-Relieving Substances in which I describe 3 "faux health science" logics: 1) euphoria pathologization 2) asocial addictionology 3) pharmacologicalism. He maintains a clinical practice as an Integrative Pain, Palliative, and Rehabilitation Medicine Physician as an Independent Contractor at SageMED, Bellevue, WA and as On-Call Physician and Associate Hospice Medical Director with MultiCare Health System, Tacoma, WA. His website is www.cannabinologist.org.