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Montefiore in the News

Dr. Chinazo Cunningham selected by Centers for Disease Control to advise on Opioid Epidemic

September 21, 2018—(BRONX, NY)—Chinazo Cunningham, M.D., M.S., an Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System expert in opioid use disorder, has been selected to serve on a board advising the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on best approaches to address the nation’s opioid epidemic.

“As a physician who has spent 20 years treating opioid addiction in the Bronx, I have seen how it devastates individuals, families and communities,” says Dr. Cunningham, professor and associate chief of general internal medicine at Einstein and Montefiore. “I’ve also witnessed life changing improvements when the right resources are made available. I am honored to bring my experience and expertise to this role.”

A primary care physician at Montefiore’s Comprehensive Health Care Center and clinical researcher, Dr. Cunningham has led multiple clinical studies funded by the National Institutes of Health, the CDC, New York State Department of Health, among others, to investigate treatments for substance use disorders and develop new protocols for existing treatments, particularly buprenorphine, a highly effective medication for treating opioid addiction. She is currently leading the first long-term federally-funded study on medical marijuana’s impact on opioid use for pain.

Dr. Cunningham will be one of 18 members of the CDC’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). The NCIPC, a branch of the CDC, deals with unintended overdoses as part of its larger oversight of injury and violence prevention research and strategies. As part of the four-year board appointment, which began September 1, Dr. Cunningham will serve on at least two working groups convened by the CDC, including a group addressing opioid prescriptions.

The CDC recently reported a record number of drug overdose deaths: 63,632 in 2016. Prescription and/or illicit opioids were involved in 66.4% (42,249) of these fatalities, according to its recent surveillance report of drug-related risks and outcomes.

Dr. Cunningham served on the NYC Mayor’s Heroin and Prescription Opioid Public Awareness Task Force and was previously a member of the CDC's Opioid Guideline Workgroup, which issued recommendations for tighter prescription guidelines in March 2016. She has served on othernational advisory committees, including the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s National Practice Guideline Committee for the Use of Medications in the Treatment of Addiction Involving Opioid Use. She was recently appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to a working group charged with drafting legislation for regulated adult-use marijuana, including medical marijuana.

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About Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine, part of Montefiore, is one of the nation's premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. During the 2017-2018 academic year, Einstein is home to 697 M.D. students, 181 Ph.D. students, 108 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and 265 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has more than 1,900 full-time faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2017, Einstein received more than $174 million in awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in aging, intellectual development disorders, diabetes, cancer, clinical and translational research, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Its partnership with Montefiore, the University Hospital and academic medical center for Einstein, advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. Einstein runs one of the largest residency and fellowship training programs in the medical and dental professions in the United States through Montefiore and an affiliation network involving hospitals and medical centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn and on Long Island. For more information, please visit www.einstein.yu.edu, read our blog, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and view us on YouTube. 

About Montefiore Health System
Montefiore Health System is one of New York’s premier academic health systems and is a recognized leader in providing exceptional quality and personalized, accountable care to approximately three million people in communities across the Bronx, Westchester and the Hudson Valley. It is comprised of 11 hospitals, including the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital and close to 200 outpatient care sites. The advanced clinical and translational research at its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, directly informs patient care and improves outcomes. From the Montefiore-Einstein Centers of Excellence in cancer, cardiology and vascular care, pediatrics, and transplantation, to its preeminent school-based health program, Montefiore is a fully integrated healthcare delivery system providing coordinated, comprehensive care to patients and their families. For more information please visit www.montefiore.org. Follow us on Twitter and view us on Facebook and YouTube.