Research Institute on Addictions Director Kenneth E.  Leonard, PhD, is overseeing a statewide training program for medical professionals treating opioid addiction.

UB Leading Statewide Training Initiative in Opioid Addiction Fight

Published October 12, 2017

The Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) and faculty from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (JSMBS) are leading an effort to combat the opioid crisis throughout the state.

“UB has been at the forefront in seeking responses to the opioid problem now plaguing our state.”
Professor of psychiatry and RIA director

Targeting Medical Professionals in High-Need Regions

Through a grant from the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (OASAS), RIA will coordinate a statewide program to train medical professionals in high-need regions in medication-assisted treatment of opioid addiction.

“Thanks to this OASAS initiative, we will be able to address a critical need in our state, and help potentially thousands of people who struggle with heroin and prescription opioid addiction,” says Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD, professor of psychiatry, and RIA director.

UB-based clinicians will be working with physicians, public health and mental health officers, and addiction treatment centers in seven regions of the state to train health care practitioners in using buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction.

Buprenorphine is an FDA-approved medication that helps control cravings and withdrawal symptoms in addicted patients.

Training Covers Safe Prescribing, Monitoring Patients

The seven New York regions encompass 16 underserved counties and tribal areas which have been identified by OASAS as having the highest need for assistance because of their high opioid death and hospitalization rates.

The multifaceted training program will consist of:

  •  focus groups to identify potential physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who are interested and eligible for training
  •  online and in-person training for safely prescribing buprenorphine and monitoring patients in treatment
  •  ongoing expert telementoring and consultation to assist in the implementation of the treatment program

Additional Advisers from JSMBS and Catholic Health

Other JSMBS faculty who are Western New York advisers to the program are:

Paul Updike, MD, medical director of chemical dependency services for the Catholic Health System, is also a program adviser.

Effort Expands UB Involvement in County Task Force

“UB aims to bring the latest in addiction science, clinical care and education to our region and the state,” Nielsen says.

“We are proud the medical school is merging its expertise with RIA to bring medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction to areas in need of this valuable tool that has been shown to help people live healthier, more productive lives.”

Additionally, Leonard says the effort expands on UB’s involvement in the Erie County Opioid Epidemic Task Force, on which he, Burstein, Nielsen and Updike also serve.

“UB has been at the forefront in seeking responses to the opioid problem now plaguing our state,” he says.

Center a National Leader in Study of Addiction Issues

RIA is a UB research center and a national leader in the study of alcohol and substance abuse issues. RIA’s research programs, most of which have multiple-year funding, are supported by federal, state and private foundation grants.

Located on UB’s Downtown Campus, RIA is a member of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and a key contributor to UB’s reputation for research excellence.