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UT to host Opioid Summit April 10

The University of Toledo is hosting an Opioid Summit to connect UT researchers, physicians and community partners with state leaders to advance collaborations that can help address the crisis affecting Ohio.

The summit will take place Tuesday, April 10, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Thomspon Student Union Room 2592 and will feature speakers who will discuss the opioid epidemic in Ohio and share the state’s focus areas and funding priorities to address the issue.

“This summit provides an opportunity to further current initiatives, identify new collaborations, and connect with community contributors in addressing this major public-health problem,” said Dr. Linda Lewandowski, dean of the UT College of Nursing and co-chair of the committee leading UT’s opioid task force.

“Opioid abuse, addiction and overdoses affect families of every socio-demographic group,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, professor of public health and co-chair of the committee leading UT’s opioid task force. “Our research, education and service activities can help make a difference in the state of Ohio, as well as the nation.”

Charles See, vice chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, will speak at 9:15 a.m. in a presentation about the role of higher education in solving the opiates problem and supporting addicted students.

Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, will speak at 9:45 a.m. about strategic priorities, funding opportunities and resources through the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Panel discussions will include representatives from the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team, Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Department of Medicaid.

As Ohio and the nation struggle to stem the opioid epidemic, UT’s faculty, researchers and students are creating new, innovative solutions to address and prevent new users from forming addictions; developing methods for greater access to treatment and preventing the likelihood of relapse after treatment; and educating students and peers about opioid addiction and resources to seek help.

For example, a cross-disciplinary team that includes doctors and engineers is working to create a wearable device for opioid addicts that notifies the addict’s sponsor or 911 to indicate relapse or health distress from drug abuse. Also, researchers in pharmacology and experimental therapeutics are designing a drug that targets a receptor in the brain to limit dopamine release, thereby preventing opioid addiction and reducing withdrawal symptoms in addicted patients.

Faculty in the College of Nursing and the School of Population Health recently received a grant from Cardinal Health to promote prevention of opioid abuse by teaching fifth- through eighth-graders and their families about safe prescription drug use and storage.

In April 2017, UT Medical Center opened an inpatient detox program under the medical direction of Dr. Tanvir Singh, UTMC psychiatrist. This is the first and only hospital-based program in the region.

UT’s opioid task force was created by President Sharon L. Gaber to bring together researchers, physicians and educators across the University working on issues related to the opioid crisis.

The summit is among the committee’s activities to advance research and identify opportunities for additional partnerships and funding sources to support more collaborative projects.