Department of Medicine
Faculty Profiles by Division

Division of General Internal Medicine

Faculty Profiles

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photo Jessica S. Merlin, MD, PhD, MBA

Visiting Associate Professor of Medicine


Education and Training
BS, Biology with an additional major in History and Policy, Carnegie Mellon University, 2000
MD, University of Pennsylvania, 2005
MBA, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 2005
PhD, Health Behavior, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 2017
Residency, Internal Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 2008
Fellowship, Infectious Diseases, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 2010
Fellowship, Palliative Care, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, 2011
Research Interest
Dr. Merlin's research focuses on chronic pain in people living with HIV (PLWH), and more generally, individuals with comorbid mental illness and addiction. She currently holds a K23 career development award from the National Institute of Mental Health to develop and pilot test a behavioral intervention for chronic pain in PLWH, and earned a PhD in health behavior in 2017 to supplement these pursuits. She is the PI of the first large-scale national study of chronic pain epidemiology in PLWH, and also leads projects relating to roles of pain sensitivity and inflammation in chronic pain pathogenesis among PLWH and management approaches to concerning behaviors that arise among individuals on long-term opioid therapy.
Clinical Interest
Dr. Merlin's clinical interest is in chronic pain in people living with HIV (PLWH) and other medically and psychiatrically complex patient populations. While on faculty at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) from 2011-2017, she developed and ran the HIV Pain/Palliative Care clinic, which was embedded UAB's HIV Patient Centered Medical Home. This multidisciplinary clinic included a nurse practitioner, nurse, social worker, physical therapist, and pharmacist, and a total of 24 palliative care fellows in chronic pain care during her tenure. At Pitt, she will lead the pain clinic at the Pittsburgh AIDS Center for Treatment (PACT) started by Dr. Bob Arnold.

Dr. Merlin also attends for one month per year on the inpatient general medicine service.
Educational Interest
Dr. Merlin lectures to medical students, residents, fellows, and other physicians about chronic pain in primary care, and in patients with medical and psychiatric comorbidities. She is a frequent lecturer at the International AIDS Society-USA, AIDS Education and Training Center, and Ryan White conferences around the US.
For my complete bibliography, Click Here.
Sponsored Research/Activities
Title: Evaluation of the Efficacy and Mechanism of a Novel Intervention for Chronic Pain Tailored to People Living with HIV
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: National Institute of Mental Health
Grant Number: R01 MH115754
Start Year: 2018
End Year: 2023
Title: Pain, Opioid Misuse, and Addiction in Ambulatory Palliative Care: Developing Consensus Approaches
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: Jewish Healthcare Foundation
Grant Number: RES
Start Year: 2018
End Year: 2019
Title: Development of a Behavioral Intervention for Chronic Pain in Individuals with HIV
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: National Institute of Mental Health
Grant Number: K23 MH104073
Start Year: 2017
End Year: 2018
Notable Achievements
Boston University Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education (SCOPE) trainer, 2016
National Institutes of Mental Health Career Development Award, 2014-present
Study section reviewer, Palliative Care Research Cooperative Pilot Grant Program, 2015-present
Chief Resident Immersion Training Program in Addiction Faculty Mentor, 2014
Hospice and Palliative Medicine Inspirational Leader Under 40, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 2014
Pain Medicine Associate Editor, 2012-present
American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Young Investigator Award, 2011
Penn Pearls Teaching Award, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 2011