Research News

Fulbright award will bring scholars to UB to study opioid crisis

Three opioids pain reliever pills on a flat surface in front of a prescription bottle tipped on it's side.

By CATHY WILDE

Published April 18, 2019

Portrait of UB researcher Nancy Nielsen.
“In the last two years, Buffalo has shown leadership and innovation in facing this problem, defying national trends and reversing a rise in opioid-related deaths.”
Nancy Nielsen, senior associate dean for health policy
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

UB has been selected by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to host nearly 100 Fulbright Foreign Students from around the world later this month for a three-day Fulbright Enrichment Seminar titled “Combating Addiction and Addressing the Opioid Crisis.”

The topic is a priority for ECA and the State Department due to the new White House Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse. The program will feature lectures and workshops on the origins and extent of the opioid crisis, understanding the nature of addiction, and researching and implementing solutions to the opioid epidemic.

“The objective is to provide these young international scholars with a broad introduction to the opioid epidemic – including its history, development, current challenges and future directions – so they can return to their home countries with the knowledge and understanding to face this global health challenge,” says David Herzberg, associate professor of history in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Herzberg spearheaded the Fulbright application in his role as education chair of the UB Clinical and Research Institute on Addiction (CRIA), which employs a multidisciplinary approach – integrating research, clinical care and education – to address substance use disorders.

Kenneth Leonard, CRIA director, and Jennifer Read, clinical area head and director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology, also were part of the application team.

“Buffalo is the perfect location to impart knowledge about successful strategies for combating the opioid crisis,” says UB’s Nancy Nielsen, who serves on the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force.  

“In the last two years, Buffalo has shown leadership and innovation in facing this problem, defying national trends and reversing a rise in opioid-related deaths,” she added. Nielsen is senior associate dean for health policy in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and CRIA’s clinical chair.

The Fulbright Enrichment Seminar program will take place April 25-27 at the Jacobs School on UB’s Downtown Campus.

It will feature a diverse mixture of lectures and panels from prominent scholars, experts, people affected by addiction and local officials; breakout discussions to explore different aspects of the opioid crisis and different research methodologies for learning about it; expert-led workshops to develop strategies to respond to the crisis; and visits to local opioid treatment sites.  Numerous faculty members from UB, along with local health care and addiction experts, will take part.

“The program will address the opioid crisis from multiple perspectives and through multiple dimensions,” Herzberg says. “We will not only discuss the public health aspects of the epidemic, but also look at the history of addiction, its impact on health care and its socioeconomic, geographic and cultural dimensions.”

The Fulbright Enrichment Seminar is one of eight 2019 enrichment seminars hosted across the United States through funding provided by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

These enrichment seminars are an integral part of the Fulbright experience for first-year Fulbright Foreign Students and support the overall mission of the Fulbright Program to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Fulbright Foreign Students are enrolled in master’s or doctoral programs in the United States in diverse fields related to business, economics, international relations, public administration and public policy.