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Opioid addiction is the physical and psychological reliance on opioids, which usually requires long-term treatment and care. (Dream Weaver | CC BY 2.0)

Penn Medicine was recently awarded more than $22 million by the National Institutes of Health to address the national opioid crisis. The money will be used to conduct research on opioid use disorder and other psychiatric disorders at Penn.

David Mandell, a Penn psychiatry professor and director of the Center for Mental Health, Kyle Kampman, professor of psychiatry and director of the Charles O’Brien Center for the Treatment of Addictions, and Hillary Bogner, associate professor of family medicine and community health, will lead a team of researchers at Penn that will study opioid use disorder and other psychiatric disorders. 

The NIH recently awarded approximately 375 awards in 41 states to develop scientific solutions for the opioid crisis that continues to plague the nation, as part of their Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative.

The team at Penn Medicine received an $11.2 million grant to conduct their research. In their project, social workers who specialize in mental health will work alongside 39 primary care providers in Philadelphia to develop treatment plans for patients suffering from opioid addiction.

Other research initiatives at Penn Medicine, which received funding, will study clinical research in pain management, novel medication options for opioid use disorder and overdose, and enhanced outcomes for infants and children exposed to opioids. A grand total of $945 million was awarded in the 2019 fiscal year to institutions across the country to provide funding for research grants.  

The research, which aims to improve treatments for chronic pain in an effort to alleviate the rates of OUD, comes amid the pressing opioid crisis. According to the NIH, approximately 10.3 million people 12 years and older in the country misused opioids, including heroin.

Over 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, a condition that is often treated with opioids. Despite the widespread nature of this condition, there is still a lack of safer, non-opioid treatments. 

Philadelphia has been especially affected by the opioid crisis. According to a study conducted by The Pew Charitable Trusts, overdose-related deaths have risen to historic levels, with 80% of Philadelphia’s overdose deaths in 2016 involving opioids.