Discussion focuses on effective strategies to address opioid epidemic

On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This alarming statistic is the result of a 20-year rise in overdose deaths, increasing since at least 1999.  Today’s public health challenges facing practitioners, medical professionals and communities include the increased prescribing of opioids, heroin usage and synthetic opioids, particularly those involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl.

On March 7, the UIC School of Public Health hosts its annual Alumni Learning Series, with this year’s focus on effective strategies to address the opioid epidemic. The discussion takes place at the School of Public Health Auditorium, 1603 W. Taylor St., from 6-7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public; please RSVP at sphalumniseries.eventbrite.com.

Dr. Wayne Giles, dean of the School of Public Health and co-chair of UIC’s Opioid Taskforce, will moderate a panel that includes:

  • Basmattee Boodram, Ph.D., associate professor of community health sciences at the UIC School of Public Health. Boodram researches the intersection of substance abuse and infectious diseases and is leading a pair of National Institute of Health grants to build more targeted interventions for individual injection drug users.
  • David Jimenez, Ph.D., director of Community Outreach Intervention Projects (COIP) at the UIC School of Public Health. COIP’s location-based and mobile interventions include street outreach, testing for infectious diseases associated with substance use, case management, syringe exchange and risk reduction counseling.
  • Todd A. Lee, Pharm D, Ph.D., professor and department head of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at the UIC College of Pharmacy. Lee’s research focuses on patient outcomes from the use of medications in the areas of cost and safety, and the intersection of these two disciplines.
  • James Swartz, Ph.D., professor of social work at the UIC Jane Addams College of Social Work. Swartz studies strategies for preventing opioid overdoses and prescription drug abuse, as well as treatment for substance use disorders.
  • Joshua Smith, MD/MPH candidate at the UIC College of Medicine and UIC School of Public Health.  Smith is the co-founder of Chicago Street Medicine, a student-fueled organization dedicated to improving the health and lives of persons experiencing unsheltered homelessness through service, education, research, and advocacy.

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