In a talk at the 2017 National Institute of Drug Abuse meeting on June 17th, Dr Evan Wood pondered lessons learned and success tips derived from his team’s experiences of building an International centre on substance use. The key ingredients in the recipe for success of research centre on substance use were:
Emphasize research productivity. Integrate educational opportunities and mentorship at every step. Use interdisciplinary approach wherever possible. Integrate research alongside clinical care.
From AIDS to opioids
Historically, the new BC Centre on Substance Use grew out of HIV research centre for excellence. The emergence of powder cocaine in 1990’s led to an HIV outbreak in needle exchange when it was believed to be under control. This helped the team to make a compelling case about their unique situation for funders like the National Institute for Drug Abuse. Next, a centralized database of people treated on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) contains all data on everybody living with HIV in the province. This database enables longitudinal survival analysis of HIV outcomes. Using this data, another prospective cohort study of injecting drug users has demonstrated how the viral load went down between 1996-2004. Furthermore, the first supervised injection facility in North America – Insight – has led to about a dozen of supervised injecting facilities in the area nowadays. In sum, the evolution of the centre from HIV treatment to HIV prevention and now to addiction treatment (because of the population of study) is a result of concentrated efforts by researchers, providers and the community.
The centre’s mission is to provide provincial leadership in substance use and addiction research, education and clinical care guidance and to seamlessly integrate these pillars to help shape a comprehensive, connected system of treatment and care that reaches all British Columbians. (taken from www.bccsu.ca)
International sites with rapidly evolving HIV epidemics in patients with substance use disorder present an opportunity for rapid scale-up of interventions once proven efficacious with a promise of large public health impact (text taken from www.drugabuse.gov). The three speakers in this session moderated by Petra Jacobs, entitled “Research on HIV and Substance Use Disorder: International Perspectives,” including Drs Wood and Korthuis, have presented several research projects supported by NIDA and other institutions. I have attended the session. The discussant, Dr Metzger, closed the session with concluding remarks.