Michael S. Gordon

FRI Research Cited in the Article: Drugs and Addiction Science: NIDA Celebrates 50 Years of Research and Looks to the Future

FRI is pleased to announce that a manuscript written by FRI Senior Research Scientists, Drs. Michael Gordon, Timothy Kinlock (retired), Robert Schwartz, and Frank Vocci, was cited in Dr. Nora Volkow’s article for The American Journal of Psychiatry entitled: “Drugs and Addiction Science: NIDA Celebrates 50 Years of Research and Looks to the Future.” Their manuscript, centered on their NIDA-funded research in a carceral setting, highlighted the effectiveness of initiating buprenorphine with individuals prior to release from prison in improving outcomes, such as post-release community treatment entry.

Congratulations Drs. Gordon, Kinlock, Schwartz, and Vocci!

Click here to read their manuscript.

Dr. Ginnie Sawyer-Morris Receives Early Career Investigator Award

FRI congratulates Dr. Ginnie Sawyer-Morris on receiving an Early Career Investigator Scholarship at The Academic Consortium on Criminal Justice Health’s 17th Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. In her application, Dr. Sawyer-Morris noted her goal as an investigator is to develop innovative tools for dissemination and implementation that address implementation disparities and increase the uptake of evidence-based interventions (e.g., substance use disorder treatment) among justice-involved populations with addiction. The following publications supported her application:

  • Sawyer-Morris, G., Wilde, J. A., Molfenter, T., & Taxman, F. (2023). Use of Digital Health and Digital Therapeutics to Treat SUD in Criminal Justice Settings: A Review. Current Addiction Reports, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40429-023-00523-1
  • Wilde, J. A., Zawislak, K., Sawyer-Morris, G., Hulsey, J., Molfenter, T., Taxman, F. (2023) The adoption and sustainability of digital therapeutics in justice systems: A pilot feasibility study. International Journal of Drug Policy116, 104024. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2023.104024

More information about the meeting and awardees can be found at: https://www.accjh.org/conference/accjh-conference-2024/.

Cathy Reback

Dr. Cathy Reback and FCC Recognized as a CPDD Community Champion

FRI is pleased to announce that Dr. Cathy Reback, along with all of Friends Community Center, is recognized as one of CPDD’s (College on Problems of Drug Dependence) first Community Champions. CPDD defines Community Champions as members who are dedicated to enriching their communities, whether related to Substance Use Disorder science or any form of community service.

Friends Community Center (FCC), a division of Friends Research Institute, was founded by Dr. Cathy Reback to provide service delivery and community-based participatory research to sexual minority men (SMM), transgender women, and other gender-expansive individuals living with or at risk of HIV infection in Los Angeles County. The primary objective of FCC is to reduce HIV transmission and acquisition and the risks that can result from substance use. FCC is purposely located on the border of Hollywood and West Hollywood, at the hub of the drug use and sex work district (i.e., “the boulevard”), where SMM and trans women congregate. FCC serves highly impacted SMM and trans individuals experiencing multiple health disparities, two extremely marginalized key populations, and has developed a comprehensive continuum of culturally consonant research studies and service programs for these populations. Most participants actively use substances, engage in exchange sex, have repeated long- and short-term cycles of incarceration, are experiencing unstable housing and food scarcity, have untreated substance use and/or mental health disorder(s), and approximately 80% identify as a BIPOC individual. FCC provides a full spectrum of HIV and substance use programs for treatment seeking and out-of-treatment SMM and trans individuals who use substances from low-intensity street- and venue-based outreach and health education/risk reduction services to case management and high-intensity outpatient methamphetamine use treatment. Additionally, a warm “home cooked” meal is served daily to all FCC participants.

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2023 FRI Awards

Cathy Reback

Dr. Cathy Reback Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Congratulations to Dr. Cathy Reback on receiving the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the City of West Hollywood. The award was given to Dr. Reback in recognition of her outstanding service and contributions to HIV/AIDS and substance use research. Dr. Reback has had an extensive and established scientific career designing, implementing, and evaluating HIV prevention and treatment clinical trials; these include behavioral and biomedical treatment therapies, technology-based and mHealth interventions, venue- and street-based programs, and has conducted numerous community-research collaborations through community-based participatory research. Over the years, Dr. Reback’s work has resulted in countless individuals reducing their substance use and HIV sexual risk behaviors and advancing through the HIV Prevention or Care Continuum. The Lifetime Achievement Award from the City of West Hollywood honors her body of work, which has focused on reducing health disparities and inequities among sexual and gender minority populations that are experiencing substance use and/or living with HIV/AIDS.

FRI Welcomes New Research Scientist Dr. Babak Tofighi

FRI is pleased to announce that Dr. Babak Tofighi, MD, MSc has joined the organization as a Research Scientist. Dr. Tofighi is a physician scientist with training in internal medicine and addiction medicine. He comes to FRI from New York, where he was an Assistant Professor at the New York University Department of Population Health. He received his MD from St. George’s University, his MSc in Clinical Investigation from the New York University School of Medicine, where he also completed fellowships in primary care research and addiction medicine.

Dr. Tofighi has extensive experience in direct patient care, which informs his research agenda. His clinical and training experiences include Attending Physician at Bellevue Hospital in New York and Physician at OnPoint, New York City’s Overdose Prevention Center. He was also a provider training consultant with the NYC Health+Hospitals system. Building on his disaster response work during Hurricane Sandy, Dr. Tofighi spearheaded the NYC Health+Hospitals Virtual Buprenorphine Clinic, which helped to ensure access to opioid use disorder treatment during the coronavirus pandemic throughout New York City.

Dr. Tofighi’s research interests include integrating community-based participatory research and health information technologies to address health equity in primary care, enhancing primary care-based disaster preparedness and response, medical education for substance use disorders, and leveraging technologies (such as telemedicine, health informatics, artificial intelligence, mHealth) to enhance access to primary care and improve outcomes among vulnerable populations.

His research has been supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), and the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ). Dr. Tofighi maintains an affiliation with the New York State Office of Mental Health Nathan Klein Institute, Division of Social Solutions and Services Research. At FRI, Dr. Tofighi will pursue a program of research on opioid use disorder focused around the use of peer-based approaches, intervention technologies, and minority health disparities.

FRI is delighted to welcome Dr. Tofighi and wishes him success with the organization.

Dr. Courtney Nordeck Receives Two Early Career Investigator Awards

FRI congratulates Dr. Courtney Nordeck on receiving two early career investigator awards. Dr. Nordeck received the Addiction Health Services Research (AHSR; 2023) Early Career Investigator Award. More information about the awardees and selection process can be found at: https://www.ahsrconference.org/2023/awardees-finalists/. In addition, Dr. Nordeck will also receive the NIDA Award for Young Investigators at the 2023 International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM) meeting in Marrakech, Morocco. At both of these meetings, Dr. Nordeck will be presenting findings from Dr. Gryczynski’s NIDA-funded study of patient preferences for fentanyl. At the 2023 AHSR meeting in New York, New York, her presentation is titled “Treatment retention among fentanyl-exposed patients: the role of patient preferences for fentanyl over other opioids”. At the 2023 ISAM meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, her presentation is titled “Self-reported strategies for harm reduction in response to the fentanyl drug supply.” In addition, Dr. Nordeck is leading a workshop at ISAM titled “Special considerations for leveraging data systems to support and improve community-based treatment programs for opioid use disorder”, based on her work with the Baltimore Health Leadership Institute.

Cathy Reback

Dr. Cathy Reback Receives 2023 Legacy Achievement Award from the Los Angeles LGBT Center

Congratulations to Dr. Cathy Reback on receiving the 2023 Legacy Achievement Award from the Los Angeles LGBT Center. This award is given to those who have made a significant and long-lasting impact on the lives of sexual and gender minority individuals. Dr. Reback has had an extensive and established scientific career designing, implementing, and evaluating HIV prevention and treatment clinical trials; these include behavioral and biomedical treatment therapies, technology-based and mHealth interventions, venue- and street-based programs, and has conducted numerous community-research collaborations through community-based participatory research. Over the years, Dr. Reback’s work has resulted in countless individuals reducing their substance use and HIV sexual risk behaviors, and advancing through the HIV Prevention or Care Continuum. The Legacy Achievement Award honors her body of work that has so greatly impacted LGBTQ+ communities.

Dr. Mishka Terplan Cited on the FORE (Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts) Webpage

FRI Senior Research Scientist, Dr. Mishka Terplan, was cited on the FORE (Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts) webpage regarding a collaborative study between FRI and the University of California, San Francisco with Dr. Sarah Roberts, which focuses on reducing stigma and improving recovery through professional education and around child welfare reporting. This study will convene experts in health, policy, law, and advocacy, along with people affected by the child welfare system, to develop, implement, and evaluate trainings for health care providers, hospital administrators, and public health officials about the legal, scientific, and ethical aspects of reporting people to the child welfare system. The training, which will be delivered through webinars and a self-paced video course, will also cover evidence-based treatments for pregnant and parenting people. Click here to read the full article.