Non-profit applied sciences research giant Battelle announced this week it plans to take on the opioid addiction crisis plaguing Ohio and much of the country with research into marijuana use — both medical and recreational — and the crippling effects of heroin use.
Battelle named Scott Novak senior research scientist and research director for Substance Abuse in its Health and Consumer Solutions to lead a transdisciplinary and translational team of data scientists, policy and evaluation experts and bench scientists to characterize how biological pre-disposing factors, such as genetic and neurological function, help shape positive medication utilization across different state and federal policy environments, a press release announced earlier this week.
“As we analyze the public health needs we can address as a scientific organization, it’s become apparent that we should apply our existing expertise to the growing problem posed by opioid use,” Battelle Health and Consumer Solutions General Manager Joe Berger said. “And marijuana acceptance and availability is on the rise as more states legalize it for medical or recreational use.
“Policy makers need clear research to aid the understanding of the public health implications of marijuana product.”
Berger believes Novak’s appointment is an important step toward that end.
The program, which stops short of suggesting use of marijuana in treatment of individuals addicted to opioids, is expected to enrich an already robust portfolio of substance use research and contribute to the organization’s growing body of research into the potential health consequences of marijuana use.
Battelle boasts 40 years of clinical and behavioral research on tobacco and its physical and psychological effects on users.
This expertise was leveraged to allow the research organization to include studying recreational and medical marijuana and, now, to support new partnerships with federal, state and local stakeholders in the fight against opioid abuse.
Novak’s career has focused on prescription drugs, including prescription opioid abuse and medical marijuana. Prior to joining Battelle, he worked for RTI International, where he directed the program of research on prescription drug abuse within RTI’s Behavioral Health Epidemiology Program, the press release detailed.
Serving as principal investigator on numerous National Institutes of Health grants and commercial projects, Novak holds a Ph.D. in Quantitative Sociology from the University of Kentucky at Lexington; an M.A. in Medical Sociology from the University of Kentucky at Lexington; an M.S. in Statistics from Harvard University; a B.S. in Statistics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
He has authored more than 100 papers and presentations and continues to publish extensively.