HEAL Headliners: HEALing Across the Lifespan

Fri, 11/3/2023 - 2:00pm - 3:00pm


NIH HEAL Initiative research addresses urgent unmet needs around pain and substance use across the lifespan. That includes studies to inform treatment of infants exposed to opioids during pregnancy; prevention strategies for teens treated with opioids after routine medical procedures; and effective, safe treatments for adults living with chronic pain. This webinar explored two HEAL-funded studies focused on pediatric populations from diverse racial and ethnic minority backgrounds: one aiming to understand how experiences during pregnancy influence child development and a second focused on reducing and managing pain following pediatric surgery.

Topics Covered

The HEALthy Brain and Child Development Study (Presenter: Uju Berry, M.D., M.P.H.)

Dr. Uju Berry’s work with the HEALthy Brain and Child Development (HBCD) Study aims to ensure that children and families considered high risk for substance use disorders are included in HBCD research. This research is collecting data from birth through age 10, including family and medical history; brain scans; physical growth measurements; biospecimens; as well as information about social, emotional, and cognitive development. Berry is leading a project at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine that will allow researchers to recruit participants from two of the largest private and public health systems in the country with a diverse patient population, including racial and ethnic minorities of varying economic levels.

Postsurgical Pain in Latino Children (Presenter: Zeev Kain, M.D., M.B.A.)

A variety of factors affect how individuals experience pain and respond to treatment. Inequities in access to health care and pain treatment disproportionately affect individuals from minority populations, such as Hispanic/Latino populations in all age groups. Dr. Zeev Kain’s study adapts a recently developed mobile health app for use with Latino families of children having outpatient surgeries. This research project is testing whether use of this app can lower child and family anxiety before surgery and reduce post-surgical pain by helping parents adopt behavioral pain coping strategies with their children.


Uju Berry, M.D., M.P.H., NYU School of Medicine

Dr. Obianuju (Uju) Berry is a Clinical Associate Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine and Medical Director of the NYC Health + Hospitals Domestic and Gender-Based Violence Mental Health Collaboration. Berry’s work focuses on populations considered high risk from substance use, history of interpersonal violence, and other factors. She co-leads the NYU site of the HBCD Study that aims to follow approximately 8,000 children from birth through age 10.

Zeev Kain, M.D., M.B.A., University of California (UC), Irvine

Dr. Zeev Kain is a Distinguished Professor at UC, Irvine. Kain is also Executive Director for UC Irvine’s Center on Stress and Health, where he leads a team of researchers investigating multi-disciplinary approaches to managing pain and anxiety in children undergoing surgery, emergency care treatment, cancer treatment, and who have asthma. Kain’s commitment to improving surgical experiences for children and their families makes him a leader in pediatric anesthesia and perioperative medicine.


Janani Prabhakar, Ph.D., National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Dr. Janani Prabhakar is a Program Officer in the Division of Neuroscience and Behavior at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Her portfolio is focused on understanding the developmental impacts of substance use exposures at the neural, cognitive, and socioenvironmental levels, and the risk for and protection against substance use disorders across the lifespan. She is also the program officer for the HEALthy Brain and Child Development (HBCD) study, a nationwide consortium of 25 research sites and 2 coordinating centers that will follow pregnant persons and their children over 10 years to chart neurodevelopmental trajectories and assess impacts of adverse environmental exposures, in particular prenatal opioid use.

For More Information, Contact:

Carol Gianessi, Ph.D., at [email protected]


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