Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University are now a part of a national, multi-institutional initiative to help address the ongoing opioid crisis.
Members of the OHSU Developmental Cognition and Neuroimaging Lab have earned one of 375 grants awarded across 41 states as a part of the National Institutes of Health Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative, or NIH HEAL. Their work will advance the understanding of brain development from the fetal period through childhood, with a particular focus on the effects of opioid use on the developing brain.
Led by Damien Fair, P.A.-C., Ph.D., associate professor, and Alice Graham, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience in the OHSU School of Medicine, the interdisciplinary team includes experts in addiction, psychology, neuroscience, maternal-fetal medicine, neonatology and epidemiology who will use a technique known as neuroimaging to collect data from children exposed to opioids in the womb through 2 years of age.
“This work will serve as a fixture for better understanding the developing infant brain, the impacts of the maternal environment as well as a deeper look into the impacts of opioid exposure to the infants during pregnancy,” says Fair.
Preliminary results of the study are expected in 2021.
Launched in 2018, NIH HEAL aims to improve treatments for chronic pain, curb the rates of opioid use disorder and overdose, and achieve long-term recovery from opioid addiction. Learn more about NIH HEAL.
In addition to Fair and Graham, OHSU’s interdisciplinary team includes: Todd Korthuis, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine (general internal medicine and geriatrics) and public health and preventative medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine; Chris Kroenke, Ph.D., associate professor of behavioral neuroscience in the OHSU School of Medicine; Antonio Frias, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the OHSU School of Medicine; Elinor Sullivan, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Division of Neuroscience at the Oregon National Primate Research Center and in Psychiatry within the School of Medicine at OHSU; Sarah Karalunas, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry (clinical psychology), in the OHSU School of Medicine; and, Joel Nigg, Ph.D., director of psychology in the OHSU School of Medicine and at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, as well as Phil Fisher, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and Claudia Buss, Ph.D., professor at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany and associate professor at University of California Irvine.
The group will additionally collaborate with research teams at New York University, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the University of Vermont to expand data assessment.
This study is funded by the National Institutes of Health (R34DA050291).