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WVU Healthcare physicians establish pain research fund in honor of colleague

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Two WVU Healthcare physicians who specialize in pain management have established a fund to benefit cancer patients at West Virginia University in honor of their friend and colleague Rodney Dayo, D.O., who passed away at age 43 after battling brain cancer in 2013.

Richard Vaglienti, M.D., and Yeshvant Navalgund, M.D., of the WVU Healthcare Pain Management Center created the Dr. Rodney B. Dayo Cancer Pain Research Fund at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center to call attention to the need for better pain treatment for cancer patients.

“Dr. Dayo epitomized all the traits that a good pain physician should have, and I cannot think of any better way to honor him than through this fund,” Dr. Vaglienti said.  

“He had an incredible amount of compassion for patients and their needs and the patience to listen to them to better understand their pain,” Dr. Navalgund said.
Dayo received a degree in pharmacy from WVU and a degree in medicine from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. He began his professional career in general surgery, but his passion for anesthesiology led him to UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh, where he met Navalgund.  The two did their pain fellowship training together under Vaglienti at WVU and later started a private pain management practice and a training and education facility for the medical community in Pittsburgh.

Navalgund, who also sees patients at the WVU Healthcare Pain Management Center in Morgantown, and Vaglienti, who runs the pain clinic at the Cancer Center, use a multidisciplinary approach to assess patient pain. Sometimes that pain can be physical and sometimes psychological.  

“A patient’s anxiety can cause physical pain and conversely, physical pain can cause anxiety,” Navalgund said.

“Oncologists do the best they can to treat patients, but patients often think a cancer diagnosis includes suffering,” Vaglienti said.  “However, there are medications, procedures, and treatments that can be provided to reduce their pain, providing them with a quality of life in which their pain is bearable.”

Since very little research exists on the benefit of pain control for cancer patients Vaglienti and Navalgund hope to change that through their fund.  

“We’re just at the birth of understanding how pain works,” Navalgund said.  “Research will provide the evidence and change the way that people practice medicine. I want to be a part of that change.”

Navalgund and Vaglienti believe Dayo would be pleased with their decision to establish a pain research fund bearing his name.  

“Dr. Dayo was so focused on helping people, and this would be a direction he would want,” Navalgund said.

For information on the WVU Healthcare Pain Management Center, see

For information on the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, see