Full Summary – National Institutes of Health (NIH) Helping to End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL) Multi-Disciplinary Working Group (MDWG) Meeting

March 4, 2019


Ex Officio Members

  • Rebecca Baker, Ph.D., Director, HEAL Initiative, Office of the Director, NIH
  • Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, NIH

Multi-Disciplinary Working Group

  • Allan Basbaum, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco (by phone)
  • Lynn DeBar, Ph.D., Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute; Affiliate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington
  • Eric Garland, Ph.D., Professor and Associate Dean for Research, University of Utah College of Social Work; Director, Center on Mindfulness and Integrative Health Intervention Development; Associate Director of Integrative Medicine-Supportive Oncology, Huntsman Cancer Institute
  • Robert Gereau, Ph.D., Director, Washington University Pain Center, Washington University School of Medicine
  • Patrice Harris, M.D., 2018–2019 President-Elect, American Medical Association
  • Christian Heidbreder, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Indivior
  • Sharon Henry, Ph.D., Professor of Physical Therapy Emerita, Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Science, University of Vermont
  • Terry Jernigan, Ph.D., Professor of Cognitive Science, Psychiatry, and Radiology and Director, Center of Human Development, University of California, San Diego
  • Hendrée Jones, Ph.D., Director, Horizons Program, and Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Richard Kuntz, M.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, Medtronic
  • Edward Nunes, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center
  • Judith Paice, Ph.D., RN, Director, Cancer Pain Program, Division of Hematology-Oncology, and Research Professor of Medicine, Northwestern University
  • Wally Smith, M.D., Professor and Scientific Director, Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Health Disparities; Director, Adult Sickle Cell Program, and Florence Neal Cooper Smith Professor of Sickle Cell Disease, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Christin Veasley, Cofounder and Director, Chronic Pain Research Alliance
  • Kenneth Verburg, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Medicine Team Leader, Pfizer
  • Constance Weisner, Dr.P.H., M.S.W., Senior Research Scientist, Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research; Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco


  • Jane Atkinson, D.D.S., Director, Trial Innovation Network, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), NIH
  • Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), NIH
  • Jessica Hulsey Nickel, Founder, Addiction Policy Forum
  • Joni L. Rutter, Ph.D., Deputy Director, NCATS
  • David Shurtleff, Ph.D., Deputy Director, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), NIH
  • Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., Principal Deputy Director and Deputy Ethics Counselor, NIH
  • Betty Tai, Ph.D., Director, Center for Clinical Trials Network, NIDA
  • Amir Tamiz, Ph.D., Director, Division of Translational Research, NINDS
  • Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), NIH
  • Clinton Wright, M.D., Director, Division of Clinical Research, NINDS

Other Attendees

  • Diana W. Bianchi, M.D., Director, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH
  • Robert H. Carter, M.D., Acting Director, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, NIH
  • Helene Langevin, M.D., C.M., Director, NCCIH
  • Martha J. Somerman, D.D.S., Ph.D., Director, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, NIH

Welcome and Goals for the Meeting

Rebecca Baker, Ph.D., Director, HEAL Initiative, Office of the Director, NIH

Dr. Baker, the designated federal official for the MDWG, opened the meeting at 8:30 a.m. The goal of the meeting was to introduce the aims of the HEAL Initiative to the MDWG members as the basis for future discussion about the plans for specific HEAL research studies.

Conflict of Interest Reminder and Introductions

Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S, Ph.D., Principal Deputy Director and Deputy Ethics Counselor, NIH

Dr. Tabak described the MDWG as a fact-finding body that can gather information, conduct research, analyze relevant issues, and draft position papers; any recommendations must go through an advisory council that is governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act and that makes recommendations to the NIH Director. Dr. Tabak reviewed the ethical principles around conflict of interest and disclosure. He encouraged members to raise any questions or concerns about potential bias or conflict of interest, suggesting that the group err on the side of over-disclosure. If a real or perceived conflict arises, members who are special government employees will be excused from discussion of the matter; for other members, the MDWG will determine how to address the issue. Materials provided to the MDWG are strictly confidential.

Incorporating Perspectives of People Living with Pain and Addiction

Jessica Hulsey Nickel, Founder, Addiction Policy Forum

Ms. Nickel explained that the Addiction Policy Forum seeks not only to educate but to dispel myths and re-educate people about the science and evidence around addiction. Among the most pervasive myths are the notion that addiction is a moral failure and that it can be cured by a 28­day rehabilitation program. Better translating the science is key to ensuring that more people understand that addiction is a health condition that can be treated effectively with medication and other interventions. For example, the Forum translated some NIDA research into graphics (cartoons) and disseminated them to increase awareness and knowledge of addiction.

Ms. Nickel presented some of the real faces behind addiction and the stories of their surviving family members. Like those with cancer, diabetes, and other conditions, individuals and families facing addiction would like access to effective medications and individualized care from knowledgeable, reputable providers. They would like acknowledgement that addiction is a long-term condition that requires ongoing care. And they would like to eliminate the stigma around addiction that keeps people from seeking help. Ms. Nickel concluded by explaining that addiction is a health condition that affects the brain and describing how treatment and recovery work are key to addressing the stigma.