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GRAND RAPIDS , MI – As deaths from opioid addiction and abuse make headlines in communities across the country, researchers and policy makers are working to address the opioid epidemic and find ways to stem its reach into vulnerable populations. The Michigan Public Health Practice-Based Research Network (MI-PBRN) presents its 2018 symposium, focused on the Michigan opioid prevention response, bringing together researchers, nonprofit administrators and policy makers to identify key aspects of Michigan's opioid epidemic to develop collaborations to address Michigan's opioid crisis.

The symposium is being held at Western Michigan University’s Downtown Grand Rapids location from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, October 19.

"The opioid crisis is growing in Michigan. In our efforts to address the determinants of health, health inequity and health disparities, we are working to enhance our efforts to prevent opioid abuse” says Dr. David Wingard, TrueNorth Community Services Director of Research and Strategic Development. “This year, we are focusing this annual research symposium on opioid prevention by bringing in state and national experts to inform and guide our strategic efforts."

The keynote speaker is Dr. Kimberly Johnson, the former director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to begin the day's conversations. Johnson is currently on the faculty in the College of Behavioral & Community Sciences at the University of South Florida.

U.S. Congressman Fred Upton, who represents Michigan’s Sixth Congressional District, will host the afternoon’s last session, which is focused on the federal legislative impact on Michigan’s opioid response.

Michigan Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, who represents Michigan House District 93 and has served three terms in the House of Representatives.

Also participating in panels are:

●       Dr. Rob Lyerla, professor in the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Ph.D. program, Western Michigan University; and former associate director of science at SAMHSA

●       Dr. Eden V. Wells, chief medical executive, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

●       Lynda Zeller, senior fellow for behavioral health, Michigan Health Endowment Fund

●       Lisa Brennan, executive director, Western Regional Area Health Education Center, Western Michigan University

●       Matt Watrous, Midwest government relations director, Boys & Girls Clubs of America

●       Dr. Ron Cisler, dean, College of Health and Human Services, Western Michigan University

●       Jen Hansen, substance abuse prevention coordinator, District Health Department #10

●       Anthony Muller, director of clinical and business development services, Wedgwood Christian Services

●       Sue Blackburn, life counseling therapist, Mercy Health; and behavioral health consultant, TrueNorth Community Services

The symposium is open to invited guests and will cover topics ranging from the opioid epidemiological landscape and Michigan's legislative perspective, to discussions about responding with prevention and developmental programs.

The Michigan Public Health Practice-Based Research Network (MI-PBRN) is a collaboration co-founded by TrueNorth Community Services and Western Michigan University. Other collaboration members include Spectrum Health, Ferris State University, Newaygo County Community Mental health, Western Regional Area Health Education Center at Western Michigan University and District 10 Public Health Department.

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