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UW Crest with engineering background
October 3, 2022

Initiative to bridge overdose information gap between researchers and community

Written By: Renee Meiller

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Across the country, countless experts across government, academia and the private sector are aggressively seeking solutions to the nation’s opioid crisis. All of that research makes the biggest impact when it actually reaches people affected by or dealing with opioid dependence.

That’s the goal for the HEAL Research Dissemination and Engagement Center, a new multi-institutional effort funded with a $21 million grant from the National Institutes of Health HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative. Internationally known for applied research in addiction, recovery, disease and aging, the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies (CHESS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a partner in the center, which aims to deliver lay-friendly, culturally appropriate information about the latest scientific findings to communities most affected by the pain, opioid and overdose crises.

Photo of Todd Molfenter
Todd Molfenter

Created in 2018, NIH HEAL seeks to accelerate scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. It’s focused on improving prevention and treatment strategies for opioid misuse and addiction, and enhancing pain management.

A key component of the new research and dissemination center is to build bridges between HEAL researchers and community partners and share research findings with communities impacted by the opioid epidemic—including clinicians and community care providers; advocacy groups with interest in pain, addiction and areas such as mental and behavioral health; and service organizations or community-based organizations in HEAL’s scientific focus areas. A focus on health equity will underpin the center’s work at every level.

Todd Molfenter is a center co-investigator and will support its community and stakeholder engagement efforts. “We are excited to support the Research Dissemination and Engagement Center with the culturally informed technical assistance tools that we have developed through related research projects,” says Molfenter, a senior scientist and co-director of CHESS, whose home is in the College of Engineering at UW-Madison.

The new center is co-led by the Duke Clinical Research Institute and the George Mason University HEAL Accelerator Team, which, in addition to UW-Madison, includes the Addiction Policy Forum, the Oregon Social Learning Center, University of Alabama Birmingham, Temple University and the University of North Texas Health Science Center. The Duke Clinical Research Institute will lead the center’s research dissemination efforts, coordinate project management activities and partner with George Mason University investigators and 67 national associations and partners on engagement activities.