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Introduction to San Antonio Life Sciences Institute

5UT Health Science Center: 210 562 4035

UTSA: 210 458 6767

Phone: (210) 458-8176
Location: NBP 2.130Q


UT Health San Antonio: 210 567 8270 | UTSA: 210 458 6767'

SALSI Funds Innovative Mobile Technology to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

The San Antonio Life Sciences Institute (SALSI) is on the forefront of combating the opioid crisis through Innovation Challenge Awards. Mirroring current national focus areas, these strategic initiatives were developed to facilitate cutting-edge research in brain health and collaborative partnerships at The University of Texas Health Science Center (UT Health San Antonio) and The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). SALSI awarded $50,000 to MindfullyAdherent, an innovative pilot project aimed at coupling behavioral intervention with technology to increase adherence to medication designed to treat opioid use disorder.

The Scope: A Heavy Burden in the United States and Texas

Across the United States, the opioid epidemic continues to sweep the nation where the burden of disease continues to increase at a staggering pace. Recent research highlights this burgeoning issue:

  • Opioid related deaths rose 345% from 2001 to 2016 (from 33.3 per million to 130.7 per million).
  • By 2016, 1/65 deaths in the United States is related to opioid use compared to 1/255 in 2001.
  • Nearly 68% of opioid deaths were in men in 2016.
  • The largest increase in deaths was in the 25-34-year category from 4.2% in 2001 to 20% in 2016
  • Almost 1.7 million years of life were lost in 2016 alone due to this epidemic. This is more years of life lost than HIV/AIDS, hypertension, and pneumonia.

In Texas, Bexar County ranks 3rd in per capita deaths related to opioid use where an estimated 92% of the population needed treatment for substance use disorders but did not receive it. Deaths due to opioid use in Texas continue to increase demonstrating the crucial need to be at the helm of combating this epidemic. Thankfully, San Antonio researchers are at the forefront of studying novel approaches in brain health to address this growing crisis impacting the health and well-being of both Bexar County residents and the nation.

Meet the Scientists at the Helm of MindfullyAdherent

Jennifer Sharpe-Potter, Ph.D. M.P.H. at UT Health San Antonio lends her expertise in behavioral and medication-based approaches to this project as a primary investigator. Her area of expertise is increasing adherence to buprenorphine to facilitate treatment of opioid use disorder.

Sandra Morisette, Ph.D. at UTSA is an expert in mindfulness, an effective behavioral intervention for issues surrounding medication adherence. As a primary investigator, she will leverage her expertise using HeadSpace, a mindfulness training app, to help patients remember their medication.

Kristen Rosen, Ph.D. M.P.H at UT Health San Antonio will use her passion in mixed method design and technology-assisted interventions to inform the study best practices and assist with participant recruitment and qualitative data analysis.

David Akopian, Ph.D. at UTSA, an expert in multimedia and mobile device use, will pair HeadSpace with the text message delivery system MessageSpace to deliver reminders for mindfulness training, medication use, and to poll participants to understand their experiences during the study.

Interdisciplinary teams are needed to solve complex health issues and offer hope to those who are suffering from substance use disorder.

To learn more about SALSI’s support of team science to combat the opioid epidemic, click on the YouTube video below!

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