Skip to main content
September 21, 2021

Health systems research center lands $10 million grant to enhance national behavioral health training


The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies will lead a national effort to support and strengthen the behavioral health workforce, with a particular focus on opioid-use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery, thanks to a four-year, nearly $10 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

 Todd Molfenter
Todd Molfenter

The center (CHESS) is based in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and includes researchers from across the UW-Madison campus. CHESS will partner with the University of Missouri-Kansas City Collaborative to Advance Health Services and the Education Development Center, a global nonprofit that builds programs to improve education, health and economic opportunity.

Created by Professor Emeritus David Gustafson, CHESS has built a national reputation as a leader in implementation science, particularly in the behavioral health sector. CHESS already manages technology transfer centers for mental health, addiction and prevention in the Great Lakes region, with funding from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The HRSA grant is designed to enhance behavioral health education and training programs’ ability to provide the latest evidence-based practices to prevent and address opioid use disorders in rural and underserved communities. When trainees enter the workforce, they will be well prepared to address the opioid crisis in the hardest-hit areas.

“CHESS is a natural fit for this center due to its background in providing workforce development technical assistance and the strength of the University of Wisconsin as a leader in health systems engineering and research,” says Todd Molfenter, a senior scientist and co-director of CHESS who will lead the newly funded Behavioral Health Excellence-Technical Assistance Center.

CHESS and its partners will use the new grant to design, develop and deliver training and other technical assistance for participants in HRSA’s Behavioral Health Workforce Development Programs.

Molfenter says the team will establish connections between HRSA, academic institutions, community partners and clinical placement sites to enhance training in opioid and substance-use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery services.