Announcing the 2019 Presidential Lecture Honorees
The Third Annual Einstein-Montefiore Presidential Lecture will take place on Monday, June 3, 2019, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. in Robbins Auditorium. The lecture highlights outstanding research being done at Einstein and Montefiore.
This year’s speakers are Dr. Joan Berman, who will present “Buprenorphine: A Novel Therapy for HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders,” and Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, whose talk is titled “Changing the Paradigm: Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder with Buprenorphine in Primary Care.”
HIV and the CNS
Dr. Berman studies interactions of HIV with the central nervous system (CNS): how HIV enters the CNS, persists there despite antiretroviral therapy, and causes dementia and other neurocognitive disorders collectively known as neuroAIDS. Her laboratory showed that methamphetamines and other drugs of abuse can worsen the CNS damage associated with neuroAIDS. Such drugs are known to raise extracellular dopamine levels, and Dr. Berman’s group was the first to demonstrate that dopamine increases the number of HIV-infected leukocytes that cross the blood brain barrier and infiltrate the CNS. Dr. Berman also found that the methadone alternative, buprenorphine, not only inhibits monocytes from entering the CNS but helps eliminate the cognitive deficits associated with HIV infection in mice. The discoveries that Dr. Berman has made in animal models and human tissue culture systems dovetail closely with those made by Dr. Chinazo Cunningham’s involving people. From 2009 to 2011, the two scientists led separate projects within the same grant, “Pilot Proteomics Center on Drug Abuse HIV/AIDS.”
Treating Opioid Disorder
For over two decades, Dr. Cunningham has led treatment programs and multiple clinical studies that aim to improve treatment outcomes for people with opioid use disorder. Those studies (funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], and other funding sources) have shown that buprenorphine is highly effective in treating opioid use disorder and carries a low risk of overdose and misuse, making it appropriate for office- and community-based treatment. However, several barriers have limited buprenorphine’s availability. Dr. Cunningham has developed and tested innovative strategies for providing buprenorphine treatment to people with opioid use disorder, and her work has helped to make the medication more widely available both locally and nationally. Dr. Cunningham was recently chosen to serve on a board advising the CDC about the nation’s opioid epidemic. During this four-year appointment, she will serve on at least two working groups convened by the CDC, including one addressing opioid prescriptions. Dr. Cunningham currently leads the first long-term federally funded study to test whether medical marijuana reduces opioid use among adults with chronic pain, chairs the New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute’s substance use guideline committee, and is a consultant to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dr. Cunningham often interacts with Dr. Berman at the Center for AIDS Research meetings, where they recently discussed teaming on a joint study of the genetics of opioid receptors and associations with HIV-associated cognitive impairment.
A reception will follow in Max and Sadie Friedman Lounge, adjacent to the auditorium.
Posted on: Friday, May 17, 2019