The Wicked Problem:
The U.S. is facing an unprecedented opioid crisis, and the state of Connecticut is not immune from its effects. Nationally, 130 adults die every day in the U.S. from opioid overdose; in Connecticut alone, there were over 1,000 opioid overdose deaths in 2017 and 2018. In fact, Connecticut ranks 11th out of 50 states in terms of highest overall overdose deaths with a drug overdose death rate of over 30 per 100,000 residents. Despite major efforts to reduce opioid prescription rates, the fallout from the overdose crisis persists; mortality and morbidity associated with opiate use and overdose remain at record levels inflicting great personal, financial, and societal harm to individuals and their families. InCHIP is conducting an Ideas Lab in the fall of 2019 to tackle the wicked problem of how to prevent opioid-related deaths. For this Ideas Lab, we are seeking faculty from diverse perspectives to develop novel approaches to prevent opioid-related deaths in our state.
What’s an Ideas Lab?:
Ideas Labs are multi-day workshops to develop innovative solutions to complex problems by harnessing the collective creative energy of an interdisciplinary team. Ideas Labs were developed in the UK by KnowInnovation (KI) with funders as a means of disrupting the normal flow of research from the traditional monodisciplinary, incremental science by utilizing creativity theory research and harnessing the impact of placing experts from as many different fields as possible in a room together for an extended period of time to spark innovation. InCHIP has developed a partnership with creativity experts from KI to implement Ideas Labs at UConn with the goals of 1) cross-pollinating the expertise of UConn faculty from across departments, colleges, and campuses; 2) bringing pivotal public health problems to the forefront UConn research efforts; and 3) building the capacity of UConn researchers to work collaboratively on large-scale multidisciplinary projects.
What kinds of research topics could come from this?
For this Ideas Lab, we are seeking faculty from diverse perspectives to develop novel approaches to prevent opioid-related deaths in our state. These approaches can take many forms and may focus on any stage prior to an individual dying from an overdose, including upstream forces such as housing inequality, prescribing practices and policies, pain management, etc. and downstream interventions with individuals most at-risk of overdose. We are also interested in the development of novel approaches which integrate existing data and/or incorporate biological (cellular, physiological, genetic, neurological, and epigenetic), psychosocial, and behavioral drivers of addiction. Ultimately, we hope to form highly interdisciplinary teams that research solutions to prevent opioid-related deaths here in Connecticut.
Who should apply?
Faculty in all fields and at all ranks are encouraged to participate. Backgrounds in behavioral, social, biomedical, and environmental sciences; engineering and mathematics; policy and law; business; education; the arts and humanities; and anyone that can provide new insights and perspectives on this topic.
Internal Funding Opportunity
This Ideas Lab also provides an opportunity for participating faculty to apply for internal seed funding. Participating interdisciplinary teams will emerge with nascent project ideas that they will continue to develop over the following weeks. Teams will then submit proposals to compete for internal pilot funding from InCHIP.
Want to learn more?
On October 8th, InCHIP and Knowinnovation held a webinar on this ideas lab. It provided an overview for how the problem will be framed for this lab as well as a basic summary for how the Ideas Lab will be structured.
InCHIP Book Club: Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic
When:On October 17th, 2019 at 12:30PM InCHIP will host a book club to discuss “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic” by Sam Quinones.
Description:“Journalist Sam Quinones chronicles how, over the past 15 years, enterprising sugar cane farmers in a small county on the west coast of Mexico created a unique distribution system that brought black tar heroin — the cheapest, most addictive form of the opiate, 2 to 3 times purer than its white powder cousin — to the veins of people across the United States.”
This event is open to all students, faculty, and staff.
Application Deadline: October 22nd, 2019 by 11:59PM
Applicants will be notified the week of October 21st 2019 via email
Kick off Event: November 8th, 2019 at the Hartford Club
Virtual Team Meetings and Idea Formation: Across the Month of November (dates to come)
Closing Event and Presentations: December 6th 2019
Ideas Lab Personnel
- Anne d’Alleva (Dean, UConn School of Fine Arts)
- Andy Burnett (Managing Director, Knowinnovation)
- Michael Copenhaver (Professor, Allied Health Sciences)
- Deborah Cornman (Associate Director, InCHIP)
- Tim Fisher (Dean, UConn School of Law)
- Michael Fendrich (Professor & Associate Dean of Research, UConn School of Social Work)
- Amy Gorin (Director, InCHIP & Professor, Psychological Sciences)
- Victor Hesselbrock(Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry; Health Net, Inc. Endowed Chair in Addiction Studies; Senior Associate Dean for Research Planning and Coordination Emeritus)
- Grace Morris (Research Development Specialist, InCHIP)
- Surita Rao (Associate Professor of Psychiatry)
- Angela Starkweather (Professor & Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, School of Nursing)
How to Participate?
Participants are selected for the Ideas Lab via a short application (see application below). The range of participants selected is intentionally diverse, and it is intended that a wide range of disciplines and expertise will be represented.
If you would like to reduce opioid-related deaths through research, we invite you to apply – irrespective of your research expertise or background. We are most interested in new ideas, underpinned by radical and innovative thinking.
We particularly welcome applications from early and mid-career researchers at UConn (including all branch campuses, Storrs, and UConn Health). Non-UConn affiliated researchers who are open to partnering with UConn faculty are also encouraged to apply. We regret that, on this occasion, graduate students are not eligible to participate in this Ideas Lab.
Due to the interactive, intensive, and collaborative nature of the Ideas Lab, applicants must have personal attributes of creativity, openness, and the ability to work effectively as part of a team. A willingness to engage with people with different assumptions, analytic expertise, and interests is essential.
InCHIP and the University of Connecticut are committed to providing reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with a disability.
To apply to participate, please fill out the form below. This form will ask you to describe your professional background (including department/disciplinary background), research interests, and expertise. It will also ask questions about your perspectives on teamwork, creativity, and your motivation to participate in this Ideas Lab. DEADLINE:October 22nd, 2019 by 11:59PM
All applications received by the deadline will be reviewed by InCHIP programmatic leadership and experts from KnowInnovation to ensure a mix of disciplines, skills, and experience.
Successful Applicants will be:
- Curious and willing to explore new or different aspects of a research challenge.
- Open to new ideas and new ways of thinking and working.
- Intrigued by creative problem-solving approaches to research challenges.
- Willing to engage in and trust an intense, rapid-paced, and dynamic scientific and social process.
- Capable of contributing constructively and collaboratively with other prior to, during, and following the ideas lab.
- Able to connect quickly with new people from different disciplinary perspectives, participate in teams, and solve problems together.
- Experienced in the relevant research areas.
Successful candidates will be notified by email in October. We regret that we will not be able to provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates.