CLIC Un-Meeting: Making connections to tackle the opioid crisis

“We can’t treat patients with addiction the same way we treat patients with strep throat [...] this is a true translational science problem,” - Redonna Chandler, Ph.D., director of the AIDS Research Program at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

On Saturday, June 2, over 100 researchers, doctors and public health professionals gathered at the University of Rochester Medical Center to discuss how to best address the opioid crisis through translational science and research. Attendees from more than 40 institutions, agencies and companies from across the country discussed a variety of opioid-related topics, forged new partnerships and collaborations, and developed ideas to tackle the crisis.

The “Un-Meeting to Address the Opioid Crisis through Translational Science,” hosted by CLIC, kicked off with a set of brief presentations from subject matter experts to help frame the issues and identify key topics. Michael Kurilla, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Clinical Innovation at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, and Redonna Chandler, Ph.D., director of the AIDS Research Program at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, were among the presenters.

“We can’t treat patients with addiction the same way we treat patients with strep throat,” said Chandler, stressing that evidence-based interventions for opioid addiction have failed to make the translational leap to reach patients. “This is a true translational science problem, making it the perfect case for the CTSA Program.”

CLIC Co-director Martin Zand, M.D., Ph.D., echoed these sentiments by painting a clear picture of what translational science means to this crisis: "Imagine two people standing on either side of a big canyon. One person has an opioid addiction and on the other side is someone who has discovered a treatment. Translational science is the bridge connecting those two people."

Following the morning presentations, event attendees worked together to figure out the best way to build this bridge through idea generation and breakout sessions. The sessions focused on topics like using non-pharmacological treatments for pain, new prescribing approaches, addressing issues in rural communities and incarcerated populations, fostering recovery and resilience for addicted individuals, and much more.

The event, which was unstructured by design, aimed to foster brainstorming and networking among a wide range of attendees with varied backgrounds and expertise. The goal was for these experts to generate new opioid-related research avenues, new collaborations, and - most importantly - follow through on them. At the close of the event, CLIC shared nation-wide funding and collaboration opportunities, urging participants to act upon on the connections they made and keep the momentum going.

From this event, CLIC hopes that other CTSA Program hubs will be inspired to host their own Un-Meetings, ultimately encouraging scientists and researchers to come together to tackle critical public health issues that no one team can overcome in isolation. If you’re interested in learning more about the Un-Meeting concept, please contact CLIC.

You can also find additional materials from this specific event, including speaker presentations, a briefing book and a list of funding opportunities, on the CLIC website.  


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