Psychology Part of UNM Grand Challenges

Departmental News

Posted:  Feb 13, 2019 - 12:00am

In November of 2018 UNM President Garnett S. Stokes launched the Grand Challenges initiative which is "to make an impact in New Mexico by addressing problems of global, national and regional significance that require researchers to work together across disciplinary boundaries to develop and implement solutions.

One of the three slots was awarded to Brandi Fink, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Katie Witkiewitz, Ph.D., Regents' Professor, Psychology for their work on Substance Use Disorders.

The goal of this Challenge is to reduce mortality and substance use disorders including alcohol, opioid and other substance misuse.

“We feel that a coordinated, integrated and interdisciplinary approach is the only way to truly reduce the suffering that arises from opioid dependence, opioid-related deaths, and substance use disorders,” said Fink. “We look forward to collaborating with communities throughout the state to identify and test novel approaches to reverse this problem. We feel that not only will the Grand Challenge provide the opportunity to do this in New Mexico, but that we can serve as a model for how this can be accomplished in other communities throughout the nation."

“New Mexico is worst in the nation on many pressing problems, including high school graduation rates, property crime, and alcohol related mortality,” added Witkiewitz. “These are systemic social problems that are related to high rates of alcohol and other drug misuse in our state. The Grand Challenge will enable and support cooperation among a multidisciplinary team of experienced researchers and practitioners who are all deeply committed to ameliorating suffering related to substance use disorders in the state of NM and beyond.”