Idea Exchange in San Francisco
In the U.S., more than 130 people die every day from opioid overdoses. Meanwhile, Canada is facing a national opioid crisis. The growing number of overdoses and deaths caused by opioids, including fentanyl, is a public health emergency and a complex health, economic and social issue that needs a response that is comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate and evidence-based.
A common misconception is that only those with opioid use disorder are susceptible to withdrawal. On the contrary, even proper use of prescription opioids can lead to significant withdrawal symptoms. Opioid medications are a potent class of drugs used to provide pain relief in the short-term, but their long-term use can result in serious adverse effects. Attempting to stop or reduce opioid use can lead to debilitating withdrawal symptoms — a key contributor to continued use and addiction. Effective therapies to alleviate these symptoms are sorely lacking.
In October, UCalgary President Ed McCauley invited alumni, donors and friends to join us at our Idea Exchange Tour stop in San Francisco where we explored how innovations at UCalgary are leading to a clinical trial for treating opioid withdrawal.
Meet the speakers
Dr. David Park, PhD
Dr. David Park is an internationally recognized expert in molecular biology and the director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary. He completed his PhD in biochemistry at Rutgers University, followed by post-doctoral training in neurobiology at Columbia University. His work has been published in high-impact journals such as Nature Cell Biology, Science, Neuron, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature Communications, Journal of Cell Biology, and Journal of Neuroscience and Human Molecular Genetics.
Dr. Tuan Trang, PhD
Dr. Tuan Trang is an associate professor in both the Cumming School of Medicine and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary. As a scientist at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, his research is directed towards unlocking the mysteries of chronic pain and developing better therapies for the 6 million Canadians afflicted by this condition. In putting together the molecular puzzle pieces, he identified an anti-gout medication that curbs opioid withdrawal. This discovery was published in Nature Medicine, the top-ranked journal in the area of medicine and research. Trang is most excited about co-leading a clinical trial that brings together a unique interdisciplinary team of scientists and health-care professionals united in a common cause — to help people who are at risk for opioid withdrawal.