MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University (WVU) Addiction Task Force and West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute (WVCTSI) have funded two new research projects to combat the opioid epidemic in the state. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia continues to be devastated by this epidemic, having the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the nation.

The first project is titled “Role of Pharmacogenomics and Metabolomics on Buprenorphine Response in COAT Patients.” Marina Galvez Peralta, Ph.D., PharmD, assistant professor with the WVU School of Pharmacy, will serve as the principal investigator for this study which aims to address the challenges and practices of recovering patients, and identify why some patients respond to buprenorphine/naloxone, while others do not.

Currently buprenorphine/naloxone is one of two major pharmacological interventions approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid dependence. Identifying barriers to a successful patient response could prove a critical piece in the treatment of opioid dependence since studies have shown that this treatment can fail in up to 20 percent of patients.

The second funded project, “Women’s Comprehensive Opioid Addiction Treatment: Reproductive Health Study,” is being led by Julie Hicks Patrick, Ph.D. associate professor of life span developmental psychology at WVU. This project aims to address the knowledge gap surrounding the reproductive health of individuals receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid dependence.

By characterizing the reproductive health behaviors of individuals in medicated assisted treatment, this study can identify areas to target with specific interventions. Interventions derived from this new knowledge could address the birth defects associated with pregnant opioid abusers as well as West Virginia’s nation-leading rates of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

“The opioid epidemic is one of the biggest healthcare challenges our state has ever faced,” said Sally Hodder, M.D., WVCTSI director and associate vice president for clinical and translational science at WVU. “In order to make a meaningful difference, we have to leverage the expertise and dedication of our researchers here in West Virginia.”

This funding opportunity was announced in June 2016 and was made available to all individuals at WVU who hold a faculty appointment or equivalent. Applicants could request up to $25,000 to support a variety of projects that would address current challenges and practices impacting people addicted to opioids, recovering patients, and potential substance users.

This funding mechanism is one of several WVU initiatives focused of combating the opioid epidemic in West Virginia. Previous substance abuse projects at WVU have included a wide variety of programs ranging from distributing naloxone overdose rescue kits to incorporating opioid addiction education in the WVU School of Medicine curriculum. Click here to learn more about substance abuse projects at WVU.    

WVCTSI Background

In August 2012, the WVCTSI was awarded a $19.6 million IDeA Clinical and Translational grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences titled “West Virginia IDeA CTR” [Institutional Development Award for Clinical and Translational Research, 1U54RR033567-02; Hodder (Principal Investigator)] to support WVCTSI’s mission of building clinical and translational research infrastructure and capacity to impact health disparities in West Virginia.

This grant was matched by a $33.5 million commitment from several West Virginia entities to create a total funding of $53.1 million to recruit 24 clinician scientists and provide infrastructure core support in biostatistics, bioinformatics, community engagement and outreach, clinical research education and mentoring, ethical and regulatory knowledge support, and pilot grants to grow clinical and translational research in the state.



im 3/29/17


Ian Moore

West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute