Another stellar moment for the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington (SPH-B) Department of Applied Health Science: Associate Professor Patrick Quinn recently received a highly selective R01 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a chapter of the National Institutes of Health. This grant, totaling $1.1 million, will fund a critical three-year study to analyze adverse outcomes associated with long-term opioid therapy dose tapering and discontinuation. Dr. Quinn is only the fifth faculty member in his department to attain such a highly selective grant; joining colleagues Hank Green, Debby Herbenick, Hsien-Chang Lin, and Carla Miller.
"This award not only demonstrates Dr. Quinn’s innovative ideas and unparalleled expertise in this area, it is an illustration of the quote from the Pixar film Finding Nemo…'Just keep swimming,'" shared Department Chair Eric Walsh-Buhi. According to NIH’s own data, less than one-fifth of R01 submissions are awarded, added Dr. Walsh-Buhi.
Dr. Quinn, who will be the study's principal investigator (PI), says this study is crucial because while the general public acknowledges that excessive opioid pain medication prescribing can have damaging—and sometimes life-threatening—effects on patients’ lives and their families/surrounding communities, scientific evidence about how to minimize risk of substance use disorder and overdose for those who suffer from chronic pain isn’t currently adequate.
"We still lack necessary evidence on how best to minimize risk of substance use disorder and overdose for patients with chronic pain who have been prescribed opioids," shared Dr. Quinn in a recent conversation. "By analyzing data from real-world healthcare, this project will evaluate for whom and in what clinical circumstances tapering long-term opioid therapy for chronic pain is associated with more (or less) risk of substance-use-related problems. In doing so, we hope that it will help strengthen evidence to ensure that patient safety can be equitably balanced with relief of pain."
Dr. Walsh-Buhi applauds Dr. Quinn’s persistence in believing in the importance of this study, navigating sobering obstacles such as difficult reviewer critiques and overlooked submissions, and staying true to the passion of his purpose.
"We all have to come to terms with rejection in academic research, as we all have papers rejected and grants not funded through peer review," says Dr. Walsh-Buhi. "Patrick was persistent, though. He kept 'swimming,' submitting a proposal that the reviewers and the NIH eventually found meritorious. Dr. Quinn is a model for us all."
Dr. Quinn adds, "I am honored, grateful, and delighted that my colleagues and I received this grant. We are energized to fill what we see as a worrying gap in knowledge about the safety of opioid tapering practices. We hope that our international, interdisciplinary team can increase the rigor of the evidence base that informs decisions by policymakers, physicians, and their patients with chronic pain.”
To read more about how IUSPH-B is making a difference both locally and internationally, visit go.iu.edu/48bx.