Recently Awarded Research Grants

Project Title:

Neural Basis of Spatial Memory Deficits after Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

Project Principal Investigator/s:
Ben Clark

Project Co-Investigator/s:
Aaron Wilber (Florida State University)

Funding Agency:
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Amount Awarded:
1,586,632 -over five years

Period of Performance:
02/2022 - 01/2027

Goals and Aims of Study

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are a set of major morphological, neurobiological, and cognitive abnormalities in offspring exposed to alcohol in utero. A common cognitive manifestation of alcohol exposure during neural development in humans, and in animal models of prenatal alcohol exposure, are deficits in spatial learning and memory. In moderate PAE (BECs ~60-80mg/dl), spatial deficits are marked by an inability to accurately discriminate between spatial locations or retain previously learned spatial relationships. Such deficits may ultimately reflect alterations in the neural systems and circuits involved in encoding and retaining learned spatial information. The long-term goal of our research program is to identify the neurobiological mechanisms of spatial learning and memory impairments after moderate prenatal alcohol exposure.

How this Research Will Benefit Society

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are a set of major morphological, neurobiological, and cognitive abnormalities in offspring exposed to alcohol in utero. Deficits in spatial learning and memory are one of the most common cognitive abnormalities reported in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Further investigation of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying spatial learning and memory impairments is critically important for the development of precise diagnostic tools and therapeutic interventions to help manage or reverse disordered brain states.

Project Title:

Integrative Treatment for Achieving Holistic Recovery from Comorbid Chronic Pain and Opioid Use Disorder

Project Principal Investigator/s:
Katie Witkiewitz and Matthew Pearson

Project Co-Investigator/s:
Margo Hurlocker, Kamilla Venner, Angel Vasquez, Brady Horn, Scott Tonigan

Funding Agency:
National Institute on Drug Abuse

Amount Awarded:
$10.6 million

Period of Performance:
10/2021 - 09/2026

Goals and Aims of Study

The center, Integrative Management of Chronic Pain and Opioid use disorder for Whole Recovery (UNM IMPOWR Center), is funded as part of the NIH HEAL Initiative and will implement two major studies and will also create infrastructure for training, pilot research projects, and community-based participatory research approaches to targeting chronic pain and opioid use disorder. Specific research projects will test the effectiveness, mechanisms, and implementation of an integrated psychosocial treatment for chronic pain and opioid use disorder among individuals receiving buprenorphine from outpatient opioid use disorder treatment clinics, and will use community-based participatory research methods to develop a culturally-centered implementation intervention for screening and brief intervention of chronic pain and opioid use disorder among American Indian/Alaska Native patients in primary care settings. The UNM IMPOWR Center is committed to data harmonization, sharing of study resources, and provider training to enhance the reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, and maintenance of evidence-based treatments for chronic pain and OUD. The IMPOWR Center will also provide valuable training opportunity for postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate students at UNM. All projects by the UNM IMPOWR Center are designed to rapidly move from evaluating how well these treatments work to getting them implemented in the real world.

How this Research Will Benefit Society

Chronic pain and opioid use disorder are major public health problems. The University of New Mexico (UNM) Integrative Management of chronic Pain and Opioid use disorder for Whole Recovery (IMPOWR) Center will take an integrated and holistic approach to improving the lives of individuals with chronic pain and opioid use disorder via tailored intervention approaches to meet the needs of diverse individuals in diverse communities. Through the projects of the UNM IMPOWR Center, we will explicitly target increasing quality of life and engagement in valued activities, the cultural centering of interventions to meet the needs of diverse patient populations, and reducing stigma of chronic pain and opioid use disorder. The UNM IMPOWR Center will directly benefit individuals in New Mexico, Michigan and Minnesota, and other sites across the country serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

Project Title:

Patient-Centered Team-Based Care to Treat Opiod Use Disorder, Depression, and Other Conditions

Project Principal Investigator/s:
Katie Witkiewitz

Project Co-Investigator/s:
Theresa Moyers

Funding Agency:
Kaiser Foundation Research Institute--NIH

Amount Awarded:
187,273

Period of Performance:
06/2020 - 05/2024

Goals and Aims of Study

This study will test an innovative model of care management—provided by a nurse over the telephone—for primary care patients with opioid use disorder and depression in Washington state and Indiana. The trial will test whether patients who receive nurse care management are more likely to receive medication treatment for opioid use disorder, and more likely to have clinically significant reduction in symptoms of depression, over the following 12 months.

How this Research Will Benefit Society

Most people are not receiving the best care for opioid use disorder and depression. But effective treatments do exist and can be prescribed in a primary care office. This research will proactively engage patients in these treatments and provide troubleshooting to help them stay engaged. This project is really exciting for the novelty of doing proactive direct to patient care of an intervention that is intended to improve patient care within a health care system. It is interdisciplinary and collaborative and relies on technology, psychology, psychiatry, primary care, family medicine, and health care systems models of care. Taking a whole team collaborative approach to address a complex problem is incredibly challenging and is likely to be highly rewarding by directly impacting patient’s lives.

Project Title:

AGORA – ABQ Homeless Assistance Helpline

Project Principal Investigator/s:
Molly Brack

Funding Agency:
City of Albuquerque

Amount Awarded:
$183,000

Period of Performance:
09/2019 - 08/2020

Goals and Aims of Study

Agora is partnering with the City of Albuquerque to provide a helpline to link vulnerable individuals in the community to organizations which can provide services in the areas of shelter assistance, basic needs and mental health care.

How this Research Will Benefit Society

Individuals who are struggling with basic needs, and those who care about them will have a central helpline to call when seeking assistance. Community collaborators will be assisted in connecting to those individuals and families who are in need of service.