At the core of any Innovation Lab is the combination of a difficult problem, a diverse group of participants, and a facilitated 5-day journey through the creative problem-solving process. Sound awesome? Read on:

From November 6-10, the University of Buffalo will host an Innovation Lab for Radical Solutions to the Opioid Misuse Epidemic, and it’s just for early career scientists.  About 25 applicants who are within ten years of completing a terminal research degree or medical residency will be invited from the pool of applicants.  (You do need to be faculty at a CTSA-affiliated institution or regional partner.)

Why Opioids?

Deaths from opioids have quadrupled in the past 15 years in the United States. Opioid mortality parallels increase in the quantity of legal prescription opioids dispensed. Abundance of prescription opioids paves the path to nonmedical use. Curbing opioid misuse is a major public health challenge, one that will require solutions involving diverse disciplines and perspectives. The NIH will be committing significant new funds to support grants to study the opioid epidemic in an effort to attract researchers new to this field to apply novel approaches from many disciplines to study this critical problem.

What is an Innovation Lab?

The Innovation Lab methodology is designed to counteract the myriad forces that tend to favor monodisciplinary, incremental science. Innovation Labs move quickly but deliberately to only scope the problem and gather data, and then to generate novel combinatorial solutions, “stretch ideas,” and create and refine solutions/proposals with real-time peer-review. The idea is to develop sketches of high-impact, novel proposals within five days. Throughout the process, there is a deliberate focus on both expertise identification and the creation of trust and shared understanding among participants.

The Innovation Lab on Radical Solutions to the Opioid Misuse Epidemic will be directed by Dr. R. Lorraine Collins and an interdisciplinary team of mentors who are experienced researchers with related content and methods expertise.

Innovation Labs bring together scholars from across the CTSA network, facilitators, and content experts who guide participants through the early stages of proposal development. The lab Scholars need not bring “canned” research ideas to the Lab. Rather, teams and ideas are developed through real-time peer review. Ideas rapidly iterate, in public, with the benefit of constant commentary. A small team of scientific experts or “mentors” play dual roles of coaches and reviewers, reinforcing novel ideas while balancing them with the realities of funding and scientific politics.


These Innovation Labs to Drive Early Career Grants (supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health UL1TR001412) are directed by:

Timothy Murphy, MD
Senior Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research
Director, Clinical and Translational Science Institute
University at Buffalo

Katherine Hartmann, MD, PhD
Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Scientist Development
Director of Education, Training and Career Development for Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and
Translational Research
Vanderbilt University

Larry Hawk, Jr., PhD
Professor, Department of Psychology
College of Arts and Sciences
University at Buffalo


Applications are due August 20.

Application Guidelines

Online Application Form

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