Here’s How Yale Hopes to Impact the Addiction Epidemic

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recently awarded Yale a $1.25 million grant to teach…entrepreneurship. But how does this endowment help with the nation’s drug crisis?

Yale faculty member, Patricia Simon, PhD, explains, “The inspiration to write this grant came from my experiences as a scientist. I observed there are many scientific innovations that have the potential to reduce suffering from substance use disorders, but it takes a long time for these innovations to reach the market. Given the nation’s current drug use crisis, every second we wait to get these innovations to market is a second too late.”

An Ivy League Education

The hefty grant will fund a program called Innovation to Impact: Translation Support and Education. This initiative offers a free 5-day boot camp on entrepreneurship and product development to teach researchers how to get their products to the public.

Lacking training in this area, many researchers have developed great resources that fail to reach the people who need them most. The interdisciplinary team at Yale will train substance abuse researchers from across the nation.

To help these scientists increase the reach of their innovations, they will learn about different aspects of marketing, such as:

  • Networking with mentors
  • Seed funding for new ventures
  • Training in entrepreneurship

Fostering a Creative Atmosphere

Open to any U.S. researcher who’s interested in substance abuse innovations, the program will include students, trainees, and faculty who would like to learn business principles to increase the reach and impact of their inventions.

Yale hopes to recruit scientists from all fields of addiction research, including epidemiology, treatment, prevention, policy, and basic science. The goal is to support developments in all areas of substance abuse prevention and treatment, such as:

  • Software
  • Services
  • Diagnostics
  • Devices
  • Apps
  • Interventions

If a researcher has an idea or method that could help the nearly 21 million Americans struggling with a substance use disorder, Yale staff want to help them deliver it.

How Will This Program Impact the Opioid Epidemic?

Two Yale faculty members will be leading the training program. Seth Feuerstein, MD, JD, from the Department of Psychiatry, is also the Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Medical Officer of Medical and Digital Innovation at Magellan Healthcare. As an executive, inventor, entrepreneur, and investor, he has successfully commercialized research-based innovations across several fields. The second faculty member involved is Patricia Simon, PhD. She studied entrepreneurship at Duke University and is an expert in consumer market research. For the last years, she has operated an addiction research program that focuses on the development of substance abuse prevention and treatment programs.

Feuerstein notes, “It is incredibly exciting to see the foresight that NIDA has in funding this program.” The 5-year award was the only such grant given by NIDA, making it a prestigious honor for Yale. With expert faculty in place and the necessary funding to run it, the program is poised to truly have an affect on the research community and, potentially, the entire nation.

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