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Director’s Innovation Speaker Series: The Opioid Crisis: Disrupting the Status Quo with the HEALing Communities Study


February 14, 2023




During this lecture, Sharon L. Walsh, Ph.D. , discussed how the HEALing Communities Study (HCS)  is testing the prevention and treatment of opioid misuse in select communities hard hit by the opioid crisis. Dr. Walsh spoke about how the HCS has begun to expand access to evidence-based care, improve data availability and timeliness, address social determinants of health, reduce stigma through public health communications campaigns, and modify relevant policies.


Read the transcript.

About Dr. Walsh

Dr. Sharon Walsh headshot

Dr. Walsh is a professor of Behavioral Science, Psychiatry, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy at the University of Kentucky and serves as Director of the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research and the Substance Use Disorder Priority Research Area. Dr. Walsh is the Principal Investigator of the HCS at the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Walsh’s clinical research focuses on pharmacological and behavioral issues in opioid use disorder, including studies on the efficacy of pharmacotherapies for opioid use disorder, abuse liability of psychoactive drugs, and the pharmacology of widely used opioid analgesics. She has published more than 150 manuscripts and has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Betty Ford Award, the Marian Fischman Award, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Dr. Walsh has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) throughout her career, lectures nationally and internationally on opioid misuse, opioid use disorder and its treatment, and has served as an advisor to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, NIH, the American Society for Addiction Medicine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization. She currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Council for NIDA.

About the Director’s Innovation Speaker Series

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) established the Director’s Innovation Speaker Series to encourage broad, interdisciplinary thinking in developing scientific initiatives and programs and to press for theoretical leaps in science over the continuation of incremental thought. Innovation speakers are encouraged to describe their work from the perspective of breaking through existing boundaries and developing successful new ideas, as well as working outside their primary area of expertise in ways that have pushed their fields forward. We encourage discussions of the meaning of innovation, creativity, breakthroughs, and paradigm-shifting.

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Division of Extramural Activities