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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Office of Communications & Marketing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 9, 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: John Gillespie | john.gillespie@downstate.edu | (718)270-2262

Federal Grant Awarded to The STAR Program At SUNY Downstate to Enhance Opioid Addiction Treatment Training for Health Professionals

The grant from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will Support Medication Assisted Treatment Training for Medical, Nursing, and Physician Assistant Students

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (December 9, 2019) – The Special Treatment and Research (STAR) Program at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University has received a three-year, $450,000 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to train and certify medical, nurse practitioner, and physician assistant students in the administration of Medication Assisted Treatment for opioid addiction once they enter practice.

Heroin-related deaths in New York State more than doubled between 2012 and 2016, while deaths related to synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, increased ten-fold in the same period.  Nationwide, as many as 100 people each day—more than 500,000 people—have died from a drug overdose over the last 20 years. Medication Assisted Treatment, or MAT, has proven to be an effective treatment for opioid addiction and involves the use of methadone and buprenorphine in an office-based maintenance program.

“Unfortunately, studies continue to show an alarming gap between the need for treatment and the availability of MAT, and it is all but unavailable for many underserved populations like those we see here in Brooklyn,” said Jack DeHovitz, M.D., MPH, MHCDS, FACP, Director of the Special Treatment and Research (STAR) Program. “We believe we can close this gap and save lives by making sure our future doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants are prepared to offer this care on day one of their health care careers.”

SUNY Downstate’s Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Waiver Training Project will ensure students fulfill the requirements to obtain a Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) waiver to prescribe MAT in office-based settings once they become licensed professionals. The training will be integrated into the curricula of medical students in SUNY Downstate’s College of Medicine, physician assistant students in the School of Health Professions, and nurse practitioner students in the College of Nursing.

“This funding to enhance educational training demonstrates the STAR Program’s innovative efforts to achieve health equity through quality care, education, and research,” said Wayne J. Riley, M.D., President of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. “It goes directly to the heart of our mission to prepare our students to deliver life-saving treatments to their patients, and especially underserved populations with limited access to care.”

About the STAR Program

The STAR Program (www.starprogram.nyc) was initially established in 1991 with the initial overall goal of integrating HIV-related care, research, and clinical education. Over the last two decades, the program has expanded to include the establishment of the STAR Health Center, including offering primary care, HIV and HCV (hepatitis C) screening and treatment, PrEP, PEP, behavioral health services, harm reduction, buprenorphine treatment, an LGBTQ Health Initiative, and re-entry services for those released from incarceration. The STAR Program provides multiple HIV training programs for healthcare providers, and participates in multiple research programs, including the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study/Women’s Interagency HIV Study Combined Cohort Study (MACS/WIHS-CCS), and a USAID program to support effective healthcare in Ukraine.

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About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City, and Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) is Downstate’s teaching hospital, backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit www.downstate.edu or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.