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.
Chinazo Cunningham, M.D., M.S.“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.
“As a physician who has spent 20 years treating opioid addiction in the Bronx, I have seen how it devastates individuals, families and communities.”– Chinazo Cunningham, M.D., M.S.
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.