CHERISH Awarded Five-year Center of Excellence Grant to Continue Substance Use Health Economics Research

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institutes of Health has awarded the Center for Health Economics of Treatment Interventions for Substance Use, HCV and HIV (CHERISH) a five-year grant to continue the Center’s activities as a national center of excellence. CHERISH was founded in 2015 as a multi-institutional center for health economics research in the substance use field, with an initial emphasis on addressing the needs of an integrated healthcare system and providers. The renewed funding will continue this work and will broaden the Center’s focus to evaluating intervention outcomes for individuals, systems, and communities. 

While there are effective medications and interventions for substance use disorder, HCV and HIV, the cost of care and improving treatment access for people who use substances create challenges for individuals, healthcare systems, and government entities at all levels.

“The opioid crisis has brought a greater awareness of the investments needed to address treatment and prevention of substance use disorders, HCV and HIV among people who use substances,” said CHERISH Dr. Director Bruce Schackman, Saul P. Steinberg Distinguished Professor of Population Health Sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine. “CHERISH is eager to continue supporting investigators in the substance use field to measure the economic value of new treatments and care delivery models. During this time, it is critical to apply limited resources to the most effective strategies and ensure the sustainability of substance use care.”

In its first five years, CHERISH funded 16 Pilot Grant awards to support economic analyses of treatments for substance use disorder, HCV and HIV among people who use substances. CHERISH Pilot Grant Recipients received funding, mentorship and dissemination training, and several have gone on to receive career development awards from NIDA. Over the next five years, the CHERISH Pilot Grant & Training Core will continue to mentor and support health economics and health services researchers in the substance use field and will lead an enhanced diversity initiative to support the development of underrepresented minority investigators in substance use research. The Pilot Grant & Training Core also plans to sponsor peer mentorship activities for career development award recipients whose research includes topics relevant to substance use economics. The Core will be led Dr. Brandon Aden, an addiction medicine specialist and at Weill Cornell Medicine, and will take advantage of the expertise of Dr. Yuhua Bao at Weill Cornell Medicine who is an experienced behavioral health services research mentor.

CHERISH has fostered a community for health economic researchers in the substance use disorder field through its Research Affiliates program, and provided almost 90 consultations improve economic evaluations, and incorporate economic methods in substance use research. The CHERISH Methodology Core will continue these activities, and plans to develop new methods related to economic evaluation in implementation studies and adaptive interventions. The Core will be led by substance use health economists Dr. Kathryn McCollister and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Dr. Sean Murphy at Weill Cornell Medicine. The Core’s activities will build on and enhance the active involvement of Dr. McCollister, Dr. Murphy, and several other CHERISH investigators in the NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM (HEAL) Initiative, including translating research to practice for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD) and new strategies to prevent and treat OUD.

The new CHERISH Population Data & Modeling Core will promote new approaches to use state datasets for population-level economic evaluations and advance simulation modeling methods for people with substance use disorder, HCV and HIV. The Core will be led by Dr. Benjamin Linas, and infectious diseases clinician and modeling expert at Boston Medical Center, and Dr. Schackman, and will draw on complementary expertise from investigators at Weill Cornell, Boston Medical Center and the Boston University School of Public Health. The Core will continue to be actively involved in supporting collaborations among a consortium of substance use disorder modelers.

The Dissemination & Policy Core, led by Dr. Zachary Meisel and Dr. Janet Weiner at the University of Pennsylvania Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI), will continue to engage with policy stakeholders to bridge the divide between research and policy by drawing on LDI’s unique resources. Dr. Meisel is an emergency medicine clinician and policy researcher and Dr. Weiner is Associate Policy Director at LDI. This Core will also continue to hold bi-annual Stakeholder conferences and workshops which have brought together policymakers, researchers, providers, payers and activists, and will develop a new knowledge dissemination training curriculum for researchers in the substance use economics field.

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