UA Center to Address Substance Use Disorders and Health Equity
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama will be home to a new research center dedicated to the prevention, treatment and management of substance use disorders.
The Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama System approved the Center for Substance Use Research and Related Conditions to focus across the lifespan of conditions to include integrated behavioral health, mental health and more.
Housed in the Capstone College of Nursing and in collaboration with the Alabama Life Research Institute, the mission of the CSURRC is to promote the health and well-being of individuals and communities affected by substance use disorders in Alabama and beyond through innovative, state-of-the-science and culturally responsive research that reduces health disparities, improves health equity and addresses social determinants of health.
“Across the country and in our state, substance use disorders are a critical public health concern made more challenging by limited resources in the areas of prevention, treatment and recovery, particularly in rural areas with poor access to health care,” said Dr. Suzanne Prevost, dean of the Capstone College of Nursing. “The focus of this center fits perfectly with the College, particularly our graduate programs preparing nurse practitioners, nurse administrators, nurse educators and nurse researchers to address the needs of rural communities in Alabama and throughout the U.S.”
The center’s scope is congruent with the state’s priority to combat the substance and opioid use pandemics, as well as the federal government’s initiatives to help end addiction long term, said Dr. Mercy Mumba, associate professor of nursing and center director.
“The center will provide a unifying unit for faculty, students and staff who are interested in substance use research and related conditions,” she said. “Having a center will further strengthen existing interdisciplinary collaborations among these researchers, while at the same time fostering new collaborations.”
Mumba has 10 years of experience as a researcher and scientist, with an extensive background and expertise in substance use disorders. Her funding portfolio of over $15 million represents research and programs all focused on substance use disorders and related conditions.
Another major goal of the center is to support the training of the next generation of researchers, scientists, educators and clinical practitioners. The CSURRC will strive to inspire undergraduates to conduct research, as well as to train graduate and postdoctoral fellows across campus.
“Dr. Mercy Mumba is the ideal nurse-researcher and leader to direct this work and mentor the many students and faculty who will collaborate through the CSURRC to develop and test solutions for the substance use crisis,” Prevost said.
In 2020, over 95,000 individuals died from drug overdoses in the U.S., and almost two-thirds of those deaths were opioid overdoses. Alabama has the highest per-capita opioid prescription rate in the nation at 120 prescriptions per 100 persons, double the national average.