BAR HARBOR — The MDI Biological Laboratory and the University of New England are bringing Maine researchers together to discuss how they can collaborate to identify solutions to the opioid epidemic in Maine.
The panel discussion, entitled “The Science Behind the Opioid Crisis,” will be led by Karen L. Houseknecht, Ph.D., associate provost for research and scholarship at UNE. As a professor of pharmacology, Houseknecht leads a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research program that studies the pharmacology of psychiatric medications and emerging drugs of abuse. She is part of a multi-investigator, NIH-funded project to develop safer medications for the treatment of chronic pain.
An audience discussion on the scientific resources that are being devoted to the opioid crisis will follow the panel discussion.
The panelists will be Ian D. Meng, Ph.D., and Leslie Ochs, Pharm.D., Ph.D., M.S.P.H., of UNE, and Elissa J. Chesler, Ph.D., and Vivek Kumar, Ph.D., of The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. The topics will include the roles played by genetics, pain and prescribing practices in the development of substance abuse, and the use of the mouse as a platform for addiction studies.
Maine is one of many states with federal IDeA (Institutional Development Award) funding that are prioritizing research focused on reducing the burden of opioid addiction, according to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which administers the IDeA program. The program was established to enhance biomedical research in the 23 states and Puerto Rico that have historically had low success rates for grant funding.
“The National Institutes of Health encourages those who receive IDeA funding to share research results widely across institutions and states,” said Jane E. Disney, Ph.D., director of education at the MDI Biological Laboratory. “Including this session on opioid research in our annual symposium is an example of our commitment to increasing knowledge about this important topic in Maine.”
The panel discussion is expected to serve as a platform for a future symposium on the science behind the opioid crisis, she added.
The IDeA program supports MBMSS through Maine INBRE, a collaborative biomedical research and training network of 13 Maine education and research institutions. Other supporters include InSphero of Brunswick, Maine and IDEXX Laboratories of Westbrook, Maine.
About the MDI Biological Laboratory:
We are pioneering new approaches to regenerative medicine focused on developing drugs that slow age-related degenerative diseases and activate our natural ability to heal. Our unique approach has identified potential therapies that could revolutionize the treatment of heart disease, muscular dystrophy and more. Through the Maine Center for Biomedical Innovation, we are preparing students for 21st century careers and equipping entrepreneurs with the knowledge, skills and resources needed to turn discoveries into applications that improve human health and well-being. For more information, please visit mdibl.org.