Oklahoma State University Medicine and its National Center for Wellness & Recovery has been awarded a grant totaling $452,275 from the National Institutes of Health as part of its Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative, or the NIH HEAL Initiative.
OSU Medicine National Center for Wellness & Recovery’s award is one of 29 grant awards across 22 states made by the National Institutes of Health as part of the HEALthy Brain and Child Development study (HEALthy BCD). The money funds an 18-month planning grant to better understand how exposure to opioids affects infant and child development.
“This grant will allow us to plan for a longitudinal study to better understand brain development, particularly emphasizing the role of prescription and other opioid exposures during pregnancy,” said Julie Croff, Ph.D., Executive Director of the National Center for Wellness & Recovery (NCWR) and Associate Professor of Rural Health at OSU Medicine.
Croff and Amanda Morris, Ph.D., Regents’ Professor, Human Development and Family Science at OSU-Tulsa and George Kaiser Family Foundation Endowed Chair in Child Development, are principal investigators on the grant. Drs. Croff and Morris are currently investigators in the Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Adversity (CIRCA), an NIH-funded Center of Biomedical Excellence.
The OSU NCWR researchers are part of a five-university consortium that are collaborating on this project including teams from the University of California, San Diego, Emory University, Case Western Reserve University and the University of New Mexico.
OSU NCWR will work with this consortium and other funded sites to map out a plan to develop a common protocol in a diverse group of high-risk communities. The OSU NCWR team is also collaborating with other local researchers, including Laureate Institute for Brain Research and the University of Oklahoma.
A second phase of the study will follow thousands of children from before birth to pre-adolescence. Researchers will use neuroimaging and neurodevelopmental assessments to gauge the impact of prenatal substance exposure. “Importantly, we will also be able to look at factors that influence healthy brain development and resilience,” said Morris. Participants, the children and their mothers, will be referred to treatment as needed.
“We established the National Center for Wellness & Recovery to address the opioid epidemic head on and to provide hope and answers to those who struggle with addiction,” said Dr. Kayse Shrum, president of OSU Center for Health Sciences, and dean, OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. “The NIH grant will go a long way in helping the academic scientific community understand the long-term impact of prenatal exposure to opioids,” Shrum said.
“We are excited to be a part of the NIH HEAL Initiative and look forward to working on this groundbreaking research effort,” said Croff.
The NIH HEAL Initiative aims to improve treatments for chronic pain, curb the rates of opioid use disorder and overdose and achieve long-term recovery from opioid addiction.
“It’s clear that a multi-pronged scientific approach is needed to reduce the risks of opioids, accelerate development of effective non-opioid therapies for pain and provide more flexible and effective options for treating addiction to opioids,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., who launched the initiative in early 2018. “This unprecedented investment in the NIH HEAL Initiative demonstrates the commitment to reversing this devastating crisis.”
Launched in November 2017, the OSU NCWR provides comprehensive care for those suffering from addiction while advancing treatment through education, research and policy.
In 2018, its Addiction Medicine Clinic opened and employs the state’s first certified academic addiction physicians. The clinic is a member of the Hazelden Betty Ford Patient Care Network. In March, OSU Medicine received nearly $200 million from the state of Oklahoma’s opioid lawsuit settlements to support NCWR.
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