CUNY SPH team joins large consortium in major effort to reduce opioid overdose deaths in New York

For immediate release

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has awarded $86 million to a consortium of researchers and implementers convened by Columbia University’s School of Social Work to address the epidemic of opioid overdose deaths in New York State. The CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) is a key partner of the New York consortium which will focus on reducing opioid overdose mortality across 16 communities in New York State by 40 percent in the next four years. The project’s aims take a whole-community approach to foster systems change, including enhancing community engagement and coordination, increasing access to prevention and treatment of opioid use disorder, incorporating peer navigation into treatment, and reducing stigma. The New York consortium is part of the NIH’s Helping to End Addition Long Term (HEAL) Initiative and joins a network of teams from three other states that were also selected by NIH (Ohio, Kentucky, and Massachusetts).

At CUNY SPH, the research is led by Dr. Terry Huang, Director of the Center for Systems and Community Design, and Dr. Denis Nash, Executive Director of the CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health. CUNY SPH faculty and staff will provide significant expertise in community health, systems science, epidemiology, and implementation/dissemination science to test the effectiveness of a systems-wide community change intervention in reversing the opioid epidemic in the 16 communities.

“The opioid epidemic is a complex, multilevel, and multifactorial problem,” said Dr. Huang. “Successfully addressing it requires the participation and coordination of public and private sector stakeholders, the development of management structure and team capacities, and the alignment of all relevant social and healthcare services in a way that is human- and community-centered.”

Systems and implementation science approaches will help identify the major patterns of missed opportunities for overdose prevention, as well as increase the uptake of evidence-based strategies among those most in need of them and maximize their impact on reducing overdose and deaths from overdose.

“The role of implementation science is also critical to the success of this initiative, given its focus on rapidly implementing strategies capable of expanding and sustaining the reach of proven interventions to reduce opioid use disorder, overdose, and overdose deaths at scale in communities,” said Dr. Nash.

“CUNY SPH is poised to contribute to this important work and to be part of a critical statewide effort that will yield lessons and strategies applicable to ending the opioid epidemic across the country,” said CUNY SPH Dean Dr. Ayman El-Mohandes.

About the Center for Systems and Community Design
Based in Harlem in New York City, and housed at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, the Center for Systems and Community Design is at the forefront of public health entrepreneurship, integrating research, business, policy, and design. At the Center, we believe there is a role for every individual, every organization, and every sector to play in health. Through cross-sectoral partnerships and diverse methodologies such as systems science, design thinking, business strategy design and implementation, collaboration science, and social entrepreneurship, the Center seeks to (re)frame health problems, unpack complex issues, create a network of public health entrepreneurs, develop and scale creative solutions that are community-centric, integrate social and environmental impact into standard business practice, and inform policy agendas.

For more information, contact:
Terry Huang
Director, CSCD
[email protected]

About the Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health at the City University of New York
The CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health (ISPH) was founded on the notion that substantial improvements in population health can be efficiently achieved through better implementation of existing strategies, policies, and interventions across multiple sectors. We study how to translate and scale-up evidence-based interventions and policies within clinical and community settings in order to improve population health and reduce health disparities. CUNY ISPH. Pursuing population health gains through better implementation. Follow us on Twitter: @CUNYISPH.

For more information, contact:
Denis Nash
Executive Director, CUNY ISPH
Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology, CUNY SPH
[email protected]

About CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy
The CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) is committed to teaching, research and service that creates a healthier New York City and helps promote equitable, efficient and evidence-based solutions to pressing health problems facing cities around the world. For more information, visit