Media Advisory: Toppling opioid dependence with teamwork

First UB Interprofessional Forum to educate 900 future health professionals on improving health care delivery through collaboration

Editor’s note

In 2019, the SUNY Board of Trustees revoked the naming of John and Editha Kapoor Hall as well as John Kapoor's honorary degree. More information is available in the university’s News Center.

Release Date: November 3, 2016

Alan Lesse, MD.
“Learning how multiple professions can contribute to the solution in a true team-based approach is essential if we are to make inroads into controlling this epidemic.”
Alan Lesse, MD, Senior associate dean for medical curriculum
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Nine hundred University at Buffalo students from the health professions, social work, law and management will learn how they can best work together to tackle the opioid epidemic ravaging the nation at UB’s first annual Interprofessional Forum on Nov. 7 in Kapoor Hall on the South Campus.

In three consecutive sessions of the program, “Confronting Opioid Dependence: An Interprofessional Strategy,” 300 UB students at a time from nine professional programs will participate in discussions that involve developing a treatment plan for a fictional patient, driving home the concept that quality, patient-centered, cost-effective health care requires collaboration among all professions.

What, when, where: Media are invited to attend keynote presentations starting at 8:30 a.m. in Room 190, Kapoor Hall and breakout sessions in Room K250 from 10 to 11:15 a.m., where students will engage in discussions of team-based care and the problem of opioid dependence.


  • 8:35 a.m. -- Gale R. Burstein, MD, commissioner, Erie County Department of Health and clinical professor of pediatrics, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences will speak.
  • 8:55 – 9:40 a.m. -- Richard Blondell, MD, a nationally-recognized addictions expert, UB professor of family medicine and addiction specialist with UBMD Family Medicine, and addictions counselors from Horizon Health Services will speak.

For press arrangements, contact Ellen Goldbaum at 716-645-4605 or 716-771-9255 on-site.

Students participating in the Nov. 7 event are from the UB schools of dental medicine, nursing, medicine and biomedical sciences, public health and health professions (from the occupational therapy and physical therapy programs), pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences, social work, law and management.

“This is our army of future health care workers,” says Lisa Jane Jacobsen, MD, associate dean for medical curriculum in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB. “We want our students to understand that it isn’t just physicians or public health officials that are going to solve the opioid epidemic. It’s going to take all of the professions working together.”

The opioid epidemic was an obvious focus for the interprofessional program, according to the event organizers.

“The current estimates suggest that some 400 people will die this year in Erie County from opioid overdoses,” says Alan Lesse, MD, associate professor and vice chair for education, Department of Medicine, and senior associate dean for medical curriculum in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioids, enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills. And nearly 2 million Americans abuse or are dependent on prescription painkillers, which account for half of opioid overdoses.

“Educating all of our professional students about this devastating epidemic is critical,” says Lesse. “Learning how multiple professions can contribute to the solution in a true team-based approach is essential if we are to make inroads into controlling this epidemic. The complex interactions of health care, society, poverty, law and dependence can only be attacked by a true multidisciplinary approach.”

The forum, sponsored by the UB Office of Interprofessional Education, will be presented in three identical sessions at 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. in 190 Kapoor Hall on the UB South Campus.

Through a connection with the UB School of Nursing, students from the University of New England in Armidale, Australia will be participating via video link.

“The goal of interprofessional education is for each student to learn how to function as a team member and realize, ‘I need other professionals to ensure optimal outcomes for my patients,’” says Patricia J. Ohtake, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science in the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions.

“This is especially important when treating patients for pain and opioid addiction. For example, health professionals, such as physical therapists, can provide interventions to relieve pain without medication while social workers can assist patients with their addiction recovery and lawyers can help facilitate access to the services they need.”

For more information about the forum, visit


Media Contact Information

Ellen Goldbaum
News Content Manager
Tel: 716-645-4605
Twitter: @UBmednews