The 4th Annual NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL) Initiative Investigator Meeting took place on February 22, 2023. HEAL-funded investigators and key stakeholders gathered in Bethesda, MD, to share research findings and identify new opportunities for pain and opioid use disorder research. HEAL Director Dr. Rebecca Baker also presented the inaugural NIH HEAL Initiative Director’s Awards for excellence in Research, Mentorship, Interdisciplinary Collaboration, and Community Partnership, as well as the Trailblazer Award to HEAL-funded researchers applying innovative methods in the early to middle stages of their careers.
NIH HEAL Director’s Award for Interdisciplinary Collaboration
Among a selective pool of nominees, CHERISH Methodology Core Co-director and CHERISH Consultation Service Director Sean M. Murphy received the HEAL Director’s Award for Interdisciplinary Collaboration. The award recognizes HEAL-funded researchers who have bridged relationships across fields of science, resulting in transdisciplinary, cutting-edge, idea-generating research.
Since the establishment of the NIH HEAL-funded Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network (JCOIN) in 2019, CHERISH has been a key consultant in providing economic expertise to HEAL-funded centers across the United States. Murphy, an associate professor of Population Health Sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine, has been overseeing the economic evaluations of multiple JCOIN trials, and co-leading the JCOIN Health Economics Analytic Team (HEAT).
Murphy was also recognized for his interdisciplinary work in the creation of a budget impact tool for the incorporation of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) into jail/prison facilities. His team worked extensively with criminal-legal partners, public-health colleagues, implementation scientists, treatment providers, and additional stakeholders to design a customizable budget impact tool to assist jail, prison, and policy decision-makers identify the site-specific resources needed for intervention implementation and sustainment, and estimate the associated costs, thereby reducing uncertainty and the resulting barriers.
NIH HEAL Director’s Trailblazer Award
The HEAL Director’s Trailblazer Award was awarded to Chelsea L. Shover, an epidemiologist, assistant professor-in-residence at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and the newest investigator joining the CHERISH Research Affiliate network. Dr. Baker recognized Shover for her authentic approach to bridging epidemiology research findings to community-based practices, particularly with her work at the Epidemiology, Policy, Implementation Lab (EPI Lab) at UCLA.
Supported by a HEAL-funded R01, Shover aims to improve the local overdose response in the Los Angeles County of California which has seen a striking increase in fatal overdoses among unhoused people and that involve both stimulants and opioids. Her funded project, “Predicting Fatal and Non-Fatal Overdose in Los Angeles County with Rapid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard to Target Street-Based Addiction Treatment and Harm Reduction Services,” is a collaborative effort between UCLA investigators, government agencies, emergency medical services (EMS), medical examiner and coroner, syringe services programs, street-based harm reduction, and research collaborators. Together, they will build a robust dashboard to provide real-time estimates on overdoses in LA County.
This article originally appeared in the CHERISH blog.