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Wayne State University adds new Endowed Chair in Addiction and Pain Biology

Nationally-recognized substance use disorder researcher Mark Greenwald, Ph.D., has been appointed as the inaugural Gertrude Levin Endowed Chair in Addiction and Pain Biology for the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Greenwald, a Canton, Mich., resident, is a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences in the School of Medicine. “The honor of the Gertrude Levin Endowed Chair in Addiction and Pain Biology is deeply meaningful to me,” he said. “This extremely generous gift recognizes and endorses a synthesis of two critically important areas of public health – substance use disorders and pain. Taken together, these two disease domains account for more than $1 trillion in annual costs to the U.S. economy.” Endowed funds support the ongoing investigation of solutions to the most complex problems in health care, and enable the WSU School of Medicine to strengthen its mission-driven work to provide high-quality education, deliver exceptional clinical care and pursue pioneering research investigations. The World Health Organization recognizes that substance use disorders, or SUDs, cause significant global burdens, associated with more years of life lost, known as premature mortality, and chronic pain primarily associated with more years lived with disability. The Levin Chair serves as an example of the power of endowment at the School of Medicine. By providing specially-designated resources for research and teaching, endowed positions enable gifted faculty and researchers to excel. Chaired faculty leave an indelible mark on the intellectual and creative life of the entire university. “The past few years have seen unprecedented overdoses and deaths from opioids in the United States and internationally, and these adverse outcomes overlap closely with pain problems and mental health issues,” Greenwald said. “Not to minimize in any way the horrible toll of the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has tragically taken about 60,000 U.S. lives as of today, but since 2016 we have been losing more than 60,000 U.S. lives each year to drug overdose deaths, and the majority are opioid-related. We have a considerable amount to learn about the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie substance use disorders and pain individually, and how they interact to produce the vexing problems that clinicians routinely face. Unfortunately, we also lack safe and effective therapies for many individual substance use disorders and pain conditions.” The Levin Chair will support ambitious short- and long-term plans and actions. Greenwald is planning a comprehensive initiative, nested within the new Translational Neuroscience Institute at WSU. The initiative will encompass a full translational cycle of research, education and clinical care activities founded on existing and emerging collaborations across the campus and community, and across institutions, using a four-quadrant approach. “Fully leveraging the Gertrude Levin Endowed Chair will create change for those suffering from chronic pain and addiction. With research efforts dedicated to cross-disciplinary solutions and treatments for chronic pain conditions, we can positively impact the nation’s opioid addiction crisis,” said Stephen Henrie, associate vice president of Development and Alumni Affairs for the School of Medicine. “The Levin Chair is an integral part of our multi-disciplinary initiatives in brain health, translational research and neuropsychological care. Cross-cutting programmatic interests in the neurosciences, chronic pain, prescription drug misuse, and integrated behavioral healthcare will maintain synergy with existing faculty expertise and activities,” he added. Research and training activities in the basic and clinical neuroscience quadrant will include pharmaceutical development and PK/PD evaluation, genetics/epigenetics, brain imaging and neuromodulation, as well as complementary/alternative therapies. “We already have ongoing projects in these areas. I also hope to explore with colleagues how we can use ‘big-data’ OMICS and modeling methods,” he said. Research and training activities will extend to a second quadrant in the translational cycle that addresses clinical translation, population and implementation sciences, and will include epidemiology, prevention and clinical trials. Greenwald and team have begun to collaborate with scientists, educators and clinicians at WSU, as well as like-minded hospital and industry partners, to develop work capacity. The third quadrant of the translational cycle will involve using scientific evidence to promote treatment and recovery from SUDs and pain conditions in the community and region. The idea is to improve the “cascade of care” for patients that will increase access, linkage, engagement and retention in care for these chronic conditions. Potential partners include several WSU colleges, centers, institutes and departments, the Veterans Administration and other health care entities. The final quadrant will involve evaluating and disseminating results and projecting the influence of these activities into the broader sphere, including collaborations with regional, state and national agencies; public and private insurance providers; fostering appropriate public policies; and training the next generation of clinician-scientists to effectively serve the community. Greenwald’s clinical neuroscience research in the field of SUDs focuses largely on opioid-related problems and the development of treatments such as buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD), with additional brain/behavior studies on cocaine, marijuana and nicotine. “However, my very first publication as a graduate student was on the behavioral assessment of chronic pain patients, and in recent years I’ve returned to conducting research on issues in pain. We’ve already been weaving together research on these areas. Importantly, there does not appear to be a major research center in the U.S. that is explicitly dedicated to the nexus of these two key disease areas,” he said. Greenwald also serves as his department’s associate chair for Research. He leads the Michigan Collaborative Addiction Resources and Education System efforts at WSU to increase the number of certified addiction medicine specialists, and has published works in a variety of academic journals, including a paper in The Lancet on OUD treatment. He has expertise and involvement in the development of novel therapies of opioid addiction, including new forms of buprenorphine, a medication for OUD treatment.

Psychiatry’s Dr. David Rosenberg talks child and adolescent internet addiction on TV’s ‘20/20’

ABC television and “20/20” program co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas turned to Wayne State University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences Professor and Chair David Rosenberg, M.D., for insight into the effects of compulsive internet device use on the child and adolescent brain for an episode expected to air May 19 at 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Compulsive internet use is increasingly common, he said. “Internet addiction in children and adolescents is a growing problem and part of our culture. The internet is a wonderful servant, but a cruel and crippling master,” Rosenberg said. “There is some debate in the field about whether internet addiction is real addiction or pathology. We contend it exists, and it can devastate children and their families. But there are differences – as well as similarities – with other addictive behavior, and you can't just stop with a diagnosis of internet addiction, since there are always underlying conditions that must be aggressively diagnosed and treated for the long-term benefit of the internet addiction.” Rosenberg shared with Vargas his department’s approach to internet addiction, brain imaging and neuropsychiatric assessments, as well as problems with executive function, brain abnormalities and changes observed in the brain after digital fasts. A digital fast, also known as a digital detox or unplugging, is when an individual voluntarily stops using all connected devices such as smart phones, tablets and computers for a specific period of time. The department’s preliminary studies, while needing considerable additional research, suggest that brain abnormalities may normalize with a digital fast, but those normalizations may not persist if the individual’s environment does not change. This includes the continuation of possible family behaviors that may enable internet excess. “It is not an isolated phenomenon. There are always associated and underlying conditions, such as depression, poor self-esteem, poor impulse control, anxiety, obsessive compulsive behaviors and chronic pain,” he said. The studies discussed for the television show are facilitated by the unique and state-of-the-art MRI infrastructure at Wayne State University, and the expertise of internationally-recognized scientists and MRI experts Vaibhav Diwadkar, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Stanley, Ph.D., department faculty members who are conducting pioneering and sophisticated MRI imaging studies that are unlocking potential mechanisms for a wide variety of neuropsychiatric disorders. “They are leaders who are sought out by teams doing neuroimaging throughout the United States, and internationally,” Rosenberg said. Filming of clinical interviews and neuropsychiatric/neuropsychologic assessments took place over the last year at WSU’s Tolan Park Medical Office Building and the WSU MR Research Facility at the Detroit Medical Center. He also was interviewed last week by co-anchor Vargas in New York. The appearance is one of several Rosenberg has made on the program since 2009 about the department’s studies into obsessive compulsive disorder utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging technology. “I was honored and humbled. Hopefully this is an opportunity to let people know what to recognize, and that there is hope,” he said. He also spoke with ABC’s local affiliate, WXYZ-TV, on May 10 for a related segment about the affects of both regular and excessive iPad use on a person’s behavior and brain. That interview is expected to air at 11 p.m. May 19, following the "20/20" program.

‘Indivisible,’ returning favorites highlight new WDET lineup

Beginning Monday, Feb. 6, WDET- FM’s (101.9) weekday schedule will change slightly to add more of the programming its audience wants to hear. Indivisible — a new call-in program from WNYC-FM, Minnesota Public Radio and The Economist — will air for the first 100 days of President Donald Trump’s administration. Indivisible will temporarily be broadcast live Monday through Thursday at 8 p.m. and will air until mid-April. The mission of the show is to convene a nightly gathering place for everyday Americans to talk, debate and find common ground. The On Point re-air will shift temporarily through April from 9 to 11 p.m. “WDET, a community service of Wayne State University, is committed to building understanding and providing opportunities for Detroit voices to be heard,” said WDET General Manager Michelle Srbinovich. “With the addition of Indivisible, we’re excited to give Detroiters another opportunity to be part of important national conversations.” Based on listener feedback, Srbinovich said, WDET also is bringing back The Late Lunch, a group of popular one-hour programs that previously aired during the midday — This American Life, The Moth Radio Hour, Snap Judgement and Reveal. The shows will broadcast weekdays at 2 p.m. The Late Lunch schedule will be as follows: Monday: This American Life Tuesday: Reveal Wednesday: Snap Judgement Thursday: The Moth Radio Hour Friday: Sound Opinions (followed by Radiolab at 3 p.m.) “When we changed our schedule last summer, the most frequent thing we heard was that listeners missed hearing these shows during the day. WDET is listener supported and we take that kind of feedback seriously,” Srbinovich said. "Like WDET, these shows reflect the future sound of public media, so we’re happy to bring them back to the midday.” In addition, CultureShift, which premiered in July 2016, will now become a two-hour show, airing from noon to 2 p.m. “As Detroit’s public radio station, local programming is the heart of what we do. CultureShift is one of our largest investments and it will continue to evolve. That’s the beauty of live radio,” Srbinovich said. "Moving from three hours to two gives us the opportunity to refine the show as we bring in new voices and develop more of the local arts and culture content our audience craves.”