Date October 16, 2018
Media Contact

Nation’s former ‘drug czar,’ leading researchers to debate solutions to opioid crisis

On Tuesday, Oct. 23, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Brown University will host a panel discussion on science-based solutions to the opioid crisis.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences will co-host a Tuesday, Oct. 23, panel discussion at the University on innovative science-based solutions to the opioid crisis. Keynote speaker Michael Botticelli, former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, will moderate the discussion.

“Opioid abuse and addiction is an unprecedented national health crisis that continues to devastate American families today,” said Jill Pipher, vice president for research at Brown. “Fortunately for Rhode Island and beyond, researchers in Brown’s schools of medicine and public health have become deeply involved in opioid research, developing innovative new solutions. This discussion led by Michael Botticelli, one of the leading addiction experts in the country, will showcase their ideas and hopefully inspire others to try new approaches.”

The panel will include Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the Rhode Island Department of Health and an associate professor at Brown, and Brown researchers Traci Green, Brandon Marshall and Dr. Josiah Rich. Botticelli is currently the executive director of the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center.

The researchers will share insights based on a range of scientific studies and interventions they have spearheaded to combat the opioid crisis in Rhode Island, including research on medications for addiction treatment in jails and prisons, use of fentanyl test strips, and peer recovery support interventions.

Though overdoses led to a record high of more than 72,000 deaths in the U.S. last year, Rhode Island was one of the few East Coast states that did not see a significant increase in overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016, the most recent years for which this data is available.

Alexander-Scott is the co-chair of Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force while Green, Marshall and Rich are three of the five expert advisers on the Task Force. 

Green and Rich are principal investigators for a new $11.8 M Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) on Opioids and Overdose, based at Rhode Island Hospital with strong partnerships with Brown and Women and Infants Hospital.

The event is co-hosted by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Brown’s Office of the Vice President for Research. Brown President Christina Paxson and Pipher are two of 34 current and emeriti Brown faculty who are members of the Academy. The Academy’s programmatic work spans the arts, democratic institutions, education, global affairs and science.  

The panel will begin at 6:00 p.m. at Brown’s Salomon Center for Teaching at 79 Waterman St. in Providence. The event is free and open to the public but advance registration is required.