Hunter Hoffman, PhD
Director of the Virtual Reality Research Center at the Human Photonics Lab at the UW

Hunter Hoffman, Ph.D. is the Director of the Virtual Reality Research Center at the Human Photonics Lab at the UW, and he is affiliate faculty in Psychology at the UW, and he is collaborating with the Univ. of Washington, Seattle, Dept of Anesthesiology and Pain Management.  He is Faculty of a Harvard Medical School CME course entitled Pediatric Sedation Outside of the Operating Room.

In the 1990s, Dr. Hoffman originated using immersive VR pain distraction to reduce acute pain (e.g., pediatric burn patients during wound cleaning) a new non-pharmacologic analgesic, a technique he developed in collaboration with Dr. Dave Patterson and colleagues (Hoffman et al, first published in 1998 and 2000).  Hoffman also designed SnowWorld, the first VR world specifically designed for pain control.  Using custom magnet friendly fiberoptic VR goggles he designed, Hoffman’s fMRI studies have shown VR reduces pain-related brain activity and is as effective as a moderate dose of hydromorphone. More recently he designed a portable water-friendly VR system, with a robot-like arm goggle holder used to treat children with large severe burn injuries (40% TBSA) during burn wound care in the hydrotank (Hoffman et al., 2019;2020).  In a laboratory study, he recently measured how much attention is used by VR and how that relates to the amount of pain reduction (Hoffman, 2021) and he has recently become interested in embodiment and avatar ownership and VR analgesia (with Herta Flor and Walter Greenleaf).  One recent study found VR reduced pain behavior in children under six years old (mean age 18 months old children using desktop VR).  He recently published the first clinical use of immersive virtual reality to enhance VR mindfulness of patients (with Marsha Linehan and Marivi Navarro).  Previously funded by NIH, Paul Allen, and Ross Chambers, Hoffman is currently funded by the Mayday Fund, a philanthropy in New York.