Every day more than 120 people die due to drug addiction.
And one in seven people ages 12 and older will have during their lifetime a substance abuse disorder.
"If that doesn't convince you of the need for more research into substance abuse then I don't know what will," said William Dewey, Ph.D., a professor in the department of pharmacology and toxicology at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Dr. Dewey was one of three visiting professors who spoke at the inaugural symposium for the Nebraska Center for Substance Abuse Research (NCSAR) on Oct. 29.
The NCSAR was officially approved by the Nebraska Board of Regents in April and became a center under the direction of Shilpa Buch, Ph.D., a professor in the department of pharmacology and experimental neuroscience.
Goals of the center
Shilpa Buch, Ph.D., a professor in the department of pharmacology and experimental neuroscience, outlined four goals of the Nebraska Center for Substance Abuse Research:
- To train and mentor early stage investigators to transition as established investigators in the area of substance abuse;
- To train students in all aspects of substance abuse research;
- To provide pilot funds to support cross-campus collaborations among basic and clinician scientists;
- To foster trans-institutional collaborations; and
- To procure National Institute of Drug Abuse funding.
The goal of the center is to promote and facilitate research in understanding consequences and prevention of drug abuse and neurodegenerative diseases.
"I congratulate UNMC for establishing this center and in doing so conveying to the world that research into this disease is of vital importance," Dr. Dewey said.
Addiction is not new, Dr. Buch said, it crosses all social, economic and gender demographics affecting everyone in some way.
"It is a disease of the brain that begs for further research into how people become addicted, the effects of that addiction and how to prevent it from happening," she said.
"The NCSAR allows us to move out of our silos and work across disciplines to broaden our research effort and truly make a difference," Dr. Buch said.
The development of a center focused on substance abuse research has generated a lot of enthusiasm, said Jennifer Larsen, M.D., vice chancellor for research.
"The community at large is concerned about the growth of substance abuse and its consequences across the U.S., including Nebraska, and feel a center can better help address this important problem," Dr. Larsen said.
Steven Lisco, M.D., chairman of the UNMC Department of Anesthesiology, agreed.
"When Shilpa came to me six months ago to talk about collaboration it was an easy transition for us," Dr. Lisco said. "I see the results of substance abuse every day in the ICU when I come into work."
"Understanding the science behind addiction is essential," he said.
I would suggest that 1 in 7 people (not only children) 12 and over will have during their lifetime (not currently have) a DSM-5 defined substance use disorder (the preferred designation rather than "addiction".)