Opiate Research Center

The mission of the Opiate Research Center (ORC) at the University of Pittsburgh:

  1. To explore, develop and validate alternatives to replace addictive opioid medications
  2. To effectively treat patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) and those with intractable pain who cannot tolerate opioids.

Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids, including prescription pain relievers, heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total "economic burden" of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement. (from NIDA website https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis)

In response to the opioid crisis, the ORC will contribute to the implementation of 3 of the 5 priorities set forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

  1. improving access to treatment and recovery services
  2. strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance
  3. providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and opioid addiction

(from NIDA website https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis)

Strengths in finances, infrastructure, and faculty at the University of Pittsburgh now yield a clear path towards the creation of a sustainable center to study the neurobiology of chronic pain and opioid misuse and to contribute to a new pharmacotherapy for patients with opioid misuse disorder.

We intend to build an ORC that is greater than the sum of its parts by capitalizing on a shared infrastructure, establishing opportunistic collaborations, and generating innovative ideas.

Establish collaborations to target neglected chronic pain populations.
The ORC will support existing collaborations, hire new faculty, and develop new collaborations to study niche areas in the field including chronic pain patients with a current or past history of opioid dependence.

Working together to generate innovative solutions to the opioid epidemic.
Events and meetings that bring ORC members together will dramatically increase the generation of innovative ideas leading to important discoveries. The Administrative Core of the ORC will organize mini-symposia with distinguished speakers in the pain and opioid dependence fields. Targeted meetings will facilitate the development of multi-investigator grant applications such as those documented below.