DCRI Earns $19M in NIH Funding As Part of National Effort to Address Opioid Crisis

September 26, 2019 – Five DCRI teams received awards as part of the NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative.

Five DCRI teams were awarded today $19.2 million to address challenges related to the opioid crisis as part of the NIH’s Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative (NIH HEAL Initiative), with total funding over 5 years anticipated at over $31 million.

The federal research initiative was launched in early 2018 by NIH Director Francis S. Collins to apply scientific solutions to improve treatments for chronic pain, curb the rate of opioid disorder and overdose, and achieve long-term recovery for opioid addiction. The DCRI’s awards are part of 375 grants from the initiative administered across 41 states.

Funded projects to be led by DCRI researchers include:

  • The Duke/Vanderbilt University Medical Center Trial Innovation Center received $5.7 million, which will act as supplemental funding for a project called Center for Innovative TRIals in ChilDrEN and AdulTs (TRIDENT). The award, which is anticipated to total $18 million over 5 years, will enable the research team to support pain and opioid studies selected to be part of the NIH HEAL Pain Management Effective Research Network. Danny Benjamin, MD, PhD, director of DCRI Pediatrics, serves as the contact principal investigator for TRIDENT and will oversee the HEAL-related activities.
  • A coordinating center to support pragmatic studies focused on pain management and opioid use received a $6.2 million award. The project, called Resource Coordinating Center for Pragmatic and Implementation Studies for the Management of Pain to Reduce Opioid Prescribing (PRISM), will be integrated into the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory Program and led by three DCRI investigators: contact principal investigator and cardiologist Adrian Hernandez, MD, and co-principal investigators Lesley Curtis, PhD, and Kevin Weinfurt, PhD, both from Duke Population Health Sciences.
  • The Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program received $6.8 million in supplemental funding to support studies of infants with neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. This work will be led by DCRI pediatrics researcher P. Brian Smith, MD.
  • A study exploring the impact of prenatal opioid exposure on early brain development and long-term childhood outcomes received an award of $543,375. This study will also be led by Smith, and his team will collaborate with a consortium of four other institutions that also received awards for this work.
  • A study to develop and test pharmacy-based care models also received an award. Li-Tzy Wu, SCD, a member of DCRI Neurosciences Medicine, aims to leverage community pharmacies to improve treatment and follow-up for people with opioid-use disorder.

“We are proud that our faculty and staff are partnering to address the opioid crisis, one of the toughest challenges of our time,” said the DCRI’s interim executive director, Lesley Curtis, PhD. “This incredibly important work will lead to better treatments and improved pathways for people experiencing pain. These awards are especially significant for the DCRI because they enable us to deliver on our mission of leading innovative research that improves the care of patients around the world.”