Newswise — The Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) will help establish a new nationwide center that will accelerate and expand the dissemination of the latest research on addiction and overdose to help communities devastated by the opioid crisis. Through funding from the NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative, which is aimed at improving the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorder and addiction, and enhancing pain management, the DCRI will co-lead the HEAL Research Dissemination and Engagement Center with the George Mason University HEAL Accelerator Team, and will work closely with NIH HEAL Initiative–funded scientists, through the HEAL Data Ecosystem, to deliver HEAL research findings to the people and communities most in need.

The center will help strengthen the adoption of HEAL research in communities most affected by pain, opioid misuse, overdose, and related conditions by delivering user-friendly, culturally relevant information about new HEAL scientific findings. The center will build partnerships between HEAL researchers and communities, which will provide a foundation for meaningful, two-way communications throughout the life cycle of HEAL projects—from developing research ideas to sharing findings. A focus on health equity will underpin the center’s work at every level.

“As an academic research organization, our goal is to communicate science clearly, accurately, and through trusted channels,” said the DCRI’s Christoph Hornik, MD, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and principal investigator of the new center. “In this way, the Duke HEAL Research Dissemination and Engagement Center will play a critical role in sharing the latest science so that it can be integrated into care, improving the lives of people affected by opioid use and addiction.”

Together with Hornik, Rachel Greenberg, MD, MB, MHS, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, and Asheley Skinner, PhD, Professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences, will form the DCRI principal investigator team for the center. The DCRI will lead research dissemination efforts for the center under the direction of Lindsay Singler, MPH, Director of Research Communications, coordinate project management activities under the direction of Jesse Hickerson, MBA, Manager of Clinical Trial Operations, and partner on engagement activities under the direction of Renee Leverty, BSN, MA, Head of DCRI Research Together, with support from Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.

The DCRI will co-lead engagement activities for the center in partnership with the George Mason University HEAL Accelerator Team led by principal investigator Faye Taxman, PhD, University Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government and Director of the Center for Advancing Correctional Excellence (ACE!), her co-investigator team, and 67 community collaborator groups. Read more about the George Mason University HEAL Accelerator Team at  

“Our approach to engagement creates meaningful collaborations between researchers and community partners to find the best ways to incorporate partners’ concerns, needs, and values into sharing HEAL data with research communities and the public, who are eager for breakthrough treatments and new insights into pain and addiction,” said Skinner, principal investigator of the Duke Opioid Collaboratory and co-investigator of the center’s engagement activities. “We create value by sharing research results in language understandable to everyone so that we can make progress together.”

Recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to data sharing that can be successful across the hundreds of HEAL projects, the center’s work will begin with a focus on understanding individual needs of research teams and communities. It will then partner with HEAL projects and community partners to co-create engagement and communications plans and resources with the DCRI Research Communications and Research Together teams. Over the five years, the center will employ independent evaluations of its work through Abacus Evaluation (Abacus) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to measure the center’s progress toward project outcomes and impact to help end opioid addiction.

About the NIH HEAL Initiative®

The Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®, is an aggressive, trans-NIH effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. Launched in April 2018, the initiative is focused on improving prevention and treatment strategies for opioid misuse and addiction, and enhancing pain management. For more information, visit:



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