Dr. Angélica Meinhofer, assistant professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM), has been awarded a K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The K01 focuses on elucidating the impact of exposure to parental opioid use in early life on mental health disorders, chronic conditions, infectious diseases, injuries, and healthcare utilization in early and middle childhood.
In the last 20 years, the opioid epidemic has taken the lives of nearly 450,000 Americans. Opioid-involved overdoses not only impact the individual but can have devastating intergenerational effects on their loved ones. Dr. Meinhofer’s longitudinal, population-based cohort study aims to shed light on this issue by using Medicaid claims data. Understanding how early life exposure to parental opioid use may affect offspring outcomes over the life course provides a strong foundation upon which clinicians and policymakers can design a more proactive, coordinated, family-centered, and overall more effective agenda.
The K01 is designed to support early-career scientists on a path towards independence through a combination of training and research activities. “This award grants me the privilege of conducting and advancing research at the intersection of opioid use disorder and adverse childhood experiences, areas that I am passionate about, while providing protected time for career development and training activities,” explained Dr. Meinhofer.
Dr. Meinhofer’s K01 mentorship team includes Drs. Bruce Schackman and Yuhua Bao from WCM, Dr. Katherine Keyes from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and Dr. Rachel Dunifon from the Cornell College of Human Ecology. “When I joined WCM, I was shifting from the private sector back into academia. Bruce and Yuhua gave me the opportunity I needed to transition,” she recounted. “Through a T32 program, they offered me protected time, research training, mentorship, and an entrance into the academic research community. Their support allowed me to start building my own research agenda and to become a productive researcher. I am forever indebted to them and look forward to continuing our collaborations throughout the K01 period and beyond.”
Mentorship has been a constant throughout Dr. Meinhofer’s career, starting at the University of Puerto Rico, followed by Brown University and RTI International, and now at WCM. Grateful for the support, advice, patience, and generosity she has received as a mentee, she is now hoping to pay forward the accumulated wisdom and expertise she has gained during her experience. “In my first two years at Weill, I have become an informal mentor to staff, students, and young researchers at WCM and other institutions,” she shared. “I look forward to supporting others, especially underrepresented minorities such as myself, and I can only hope to become the type of mentor that my mentors have been for me.”