With Major New Grant, UB Is Training Physicians How to Best Treat Addicted Patients

Federal grant recognizes UB's national leadership role in addiction medicine

Release Date: October 26, 2011

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The goal, says Blondell, is to educate physicians about how to treat patients who are already addicted, while preventing new addictions from developing.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A new University at Buffalo program, supported by more than $900,000 in federal funds, will help translate medical research on alcoholism and other addictions into the best treatments for addicted patients.

"This grant recognizes UB's national leadership position in alcohol abuse and addiction medicine," says Richard D. Blondell, MD, director of addictions research and professor of family medicine in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. "With this grant, we are addressing the significant need to develop innovative ways to train both primary care doctors and addiction specialists."

The grant from the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) is funding physicians and researchers in UB's Department of Family Medicine to establish a National Addiction Medicine Residency Assistance Council. The council will be made up of leaders in the field of addiction medicine who will develop written curricula and national standards of excellence for graduate medical education programs in addiction medicine. The goal is to establish a core of post-graduate addiction medicine education programs in academic medical centers throughout the U.S.

According to Blondell, there is a shortage of academically oriented addiction medicine physicians qualified to conduct clinical research on addictions, to translate this research into practice, and to teach medical students and a wide range of residents about addiction in academic medical centers.

"The grant is designed to address the spectrum of addictions, from alcohol, which is America's number one substance abuse problem, to illicit substances and prescription drugs," says Blondell. "The purpose is to educate primary care doctors as well as emergency medicine physicians and, frankly, physicians in all the specialties on how to treat their patients who are already addicted, while also preventing non-addicted patients from developing addictions," he says.

"Part of that education involves connecting the dots," says Blondell. "If a person with an addiction is going into the hospital for orthopedic surgery, the surgeon needs to know about the addiction. Right now, there is no established infrastructure for disseminating that information."

Blondell, who chairs the Residency Accreditation Review Committee of the American Board of Addiction Medicine Foundation, directs the UB Department of Family Medicine's addiction residency, one of just 9 postgraduate addiction medicine residencies in the U.S. that were accredited earlier this year.

He is an expert on alcohol dependence and has conducted research designed to improve outcomes after patients are discharged from detoxification programs; he also studies new pharmacotherapeutic approaches to various types of addictions.

Blondell is co-principal investigator on the grant with Jeffrey H. Samet, MD of the Boston University School of Medicine.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Related story: UB's Addiction Medicine Fellowship One of First Accredited by American Board of Addiction Medicine Foundation at http://www.buffalo.edu/news/12549

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