Battling the Opioid Epidemic: UA Experts See the Light through Groundbreaking Research

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 6:00pm

About the Lecture:
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), opioid addiction in the United States has reached epidemic proportions.  It is threatening not only public health, but also economic output and national security as the country grapples with one of its worst-ever drug crises. The epidemic has cost the U.S. more than a trillion dollars since 2001, and may exceed another $500 billion over the next three years.
Although numerous treatments are available for treatment of chronic pain, a large and increasing number of Americans use opioids for long-term management of chronic pain. HHS studies found that 2 million people had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers. Statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the number of overdose deaths involving opioids was five times higher in 2016 than it was 1999. Last year, a nationwide public health emergency was declared regarding the opioid crisis. 
University of Arizona researchers in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Pharmacology are finding ways to effectively treat and understand chronic pain through leading-edge research. The UA has one of the largest groups in the world studying chronic pain and treatment alternatives.

Drs. Ibrahim and Vanderah will discuss their novel research on alternative medications and therapies designed to inhibit chronic pain without unwanted side effects, including addiction. According to a report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), chronic pain affects an estimated 100 million Americans, or one-third of the U.S. population. It is the primary reason Americans are on disability, with estimated at $600 billion per year as a result of missed work days and medical expenses.
Dr. Ibrahim and his colleagues have made national headlines for their research on exposure to green LED and mitigation of pain. His studies have shown how the green light is able to increase levels of circulating endogenous opioids within the body, which may explain the pain-relieving effects. These non-pharmacological methods are desperately needed to help the millions of individuals suffering from chronic pain. The initial research results indicating the green LED altering the levels of endogenous substances that may inhibit pain and decrease inflammation, are a significant breakthrough.   

An expert on opioid addiction, Dr. Vanderah has been seeking ways to create alternative analgesics for many years. He and his colleagues are now seeing promise in a specific class of chemical compounds designed to help patients find pain: 'We have to come up with better, novel ideas, techniques and mechanisms that inhibit chronic pain' notes Vanderah.
About Dr. Ibrahim

Dr. Ibrahim currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the University of Arizona Departments of Anesthesiology and Pharmacology, as Director of the Comprehensive Pain Management Clinic and as Program Director for the Pain Management Fellowship at the UA. He earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in biochemistry and a master’s degree and PhD in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Arizona. He went on to graduate from the UA College of Medicine – Tucson in 2008, followed by a surgical internship at the UA.  He completed his residency in anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, in Boston. He followed that with a clinical pain medicine fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School's largest teaching hospital and biomedical research facility. He is highly regarded for his work on pain management and reduction across a multitude of ailments and diseases and has been published numerous times on this and related subjects. Dr. Ibrahim is a member of the American Medical Association and the Society for Neuroscience.

About Dr. Vanderah

Dr. Vanderah is Department Head and Professor of Pharmacology, in addition to serving as a full Professor in the Departments of Neurology, Anesthesiology, Neuroscience and Physiological Sciences. He earned his bachelor's degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and his PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology, both from the University of Arizona, prior to completing a fellowship in Neuropharmacology at the University of Colorado, Denver. His research drug discoveries include an oxytocin antagonist to prevent preterm-birth. He also has conducted an investigation of a novel highly selective kappa opioid agonist for somatic and inflammatory pain. His recent studies have identified the use of a non-euphoric cannabinoid for bone cancer pain that not only inhibits pain, but also reduces bone wasting. Additional research interests include mechanisms and pharmacology of acute and chronic pain, endogenous opioid systems, sensory neuronal integration in pain pathways, neurochemical release during conditions of neuropathy, neuronal plasticity, opioid receptor pharmacology, and novel targets for drug discovery. Dr. Vanderah is the author of the bookNolte’s Essentials of the Human Brain, 2nd Edition, in addition to over 135 original research articles. He has received numerous honors and awards, including Academy of Medical Education Scholars, 2010-present; Better-Than-Ever Award in Breast Cancer Research 2009-2010; and multiple awards for outstanding teaching and speaking throughout his career.

Event Address: 
1501 N. Campbell Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85724

DuVal Auditorium
Room 2600
Banner - University Medical Center
1501 N. Campbell Ave.
Tucson, Arizona 85724