Tufts Initiative on Substance Use and Addiction Seed Funding Winners Announced!

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research in collaboration with Tufts Medical Center is proud to announce the inaugural recipients of seed funding from the Tufts Initiative on Substance Use and Addiction.

The goal of this initiative is to establish sustainable efforts using Tufts’ unique constellation of Schools and resources in civic engagement, education, and research to help the countless individuals and families who have suffered as a result of the opioid crisis.

In this initial round, eight proposals totaling $150,000 were funded to support bold and innovative ideas addressing the prevention and treatment of substance use and addiction.

Please join us in congratulating the following individuals:

Rebecca Fauth, School of Arts and Sciences
Supporting Parents in Recovery: Joining Together Home Visiting and Recovery Support

In at-risk communities in Massachusetts, health professionals make home visits to pregnant women and mothers of young children, providing support and education. Fauth, in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development, will examine the potential for combining those home visits with recovery support efforts, which have the potential to reach women at an optimal time for treatment.

Britta Magnuson, School of Dental Medicine
Assessing Patient Risk for Overdose via the Dental E-Record, Identifying Barriers, and Developing Dentist-Friendly Instructional Content for Naloxone Acquisition

Dentists may encounter patients at risk for opioid use disorder more often than other health-care providers. Magnuson will assess how well dental electronic health records can identify at-risk patients. She will also develop educational content to train dentists in substance use screening and administration of naloxone, an antidote to opioid overdoses.

Raza Malik, Tufts Medical Center
The Implementation of a Multidisciplinary Clinic Model to the Management of Patients with Substance Use Disorder, Addiction, and Hepatitis C

Intravenous drug use is a key risk factor for hepatitis C, yet addiction treatment and hepatitis diagnosis are often disconnected. Malik will pilot and evaluate a multidisciplinary clinic model where patients with substance use disorder meet with providers from hepatology, infectious disease, addiction medicine, pharmacy and social work at one visit. The goal is to cut down on referrals and reduce time from diagnosis to therapy.

Thomas Nieland, School of Engineering
Development of a Human 3-Dimensional Stem Cell Model to Identify and Screen Therapeutics for Opioid Use Disorders

Nieland will develop a human experimental model based on a bioengineered 3D brain tissue system to understand the biology of opioid use disorder. The model, which mimics the neural responses in the human brain, will be used to investigate possible therapies for opioid addiction.

Randi Sokol, School of Medicine and Cambridge Health Alliance
Creation of a National Addiction Curriculum for Primary Care Providers

Sokol will develop, pilot, and evaluate an interactive, evidence-based national addiction curriculum for primary care providers, who often treat patients with substance use disorders. 

Thomas Stopka, School of Medicine
Assessing Opioid Use Disorder and Access to Drug Treatment among Pregnant Women in the U.S.: A Data-Driven Approach to Inform Equitable Public Health Responses

While harmful opioid use by pregnant women has grown, only a fraction of those patients received methadone and other medication that can help treat the disorder. Stopka will map the research done on access to and use of such medication by pregnant women with the goal of identifying barriers and facilitators at the patient, provider, structural and policy levels.

Fair Vassoler, Cummings School
Adolescent Morphine Remodels the Sperm Epigenome

A growing body of evidence shows that opioid use in one generation can affect future generations. By measuring RNA in male rats, Vassoler will examine the mechanisms by which environmental exposure to opioids can be transmitted to their offspring.

Alysse Wurcel, Tufts Medical Center
Improving HIV Testing Access to People with Substance Use Disorder Admitted to Tufts Medical Center: An Implementation Science Project

People who inject drugs are at a high risk for contracting HIV if they share needles or syringes with someone who is infected. Wurcel will seek to improve HIV testing in people with substance use disorder who are admitted to Tufts Medical Center.