Hendrée Jones, PhD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and executive director of the UNC Horizons Program, is among a small group of experts that has been asked by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to serve on a working group that will bring the best of science to the task of addressing our national crisis of opioid addiction and chronic pain.

Francis Collins, MD, PhD, director of the NIH, asked Jones to serve on the working group of the Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative, an NIH-wide effort to improve prevention and treatment strategies for opioid misuse and addiction, and to enhance pain management.

This working group will use their expertise, knowledge and experience to guide HEAL research so that it can have the greatest impact on both major current and projected issues in the fields of opioid misuse and addiction, as well as chronic pain conditions that often lead to opioid use.

“This working group will provide input on HEAL research and develop draft recommendations for further review and consideration by individual NIH Institute and Center advisory committees to help ensure that the HEAL Initiative meets its bold goals. To do this, the working group will engage partners in the private sector and research community, provide a public venue for discussion of HEAL research by stakeholders and members of the public, and help facilitate exchange of scientific information among HEAL projects,” reads Collins’ invitation letter to Jones.

The appointment makes clear Jones’ longstanding research experience in substance use disorders, particularly in pregnant and parenting women, which has taken her across the country and to six continents as she trains others in the trauma-informed model of the UNC Horizons Program.

“It is a great honor and exciting responsibility that I cherish having the opportunity to take part in,” says Jones. “I look forward to sharing a gendered perspective to help advance the science to prevent, treat and support those in recovery from opioid use disorders.”

UNC Horizons Program is a substance abuse treatment program for pregnant and/or parenting women and their children, many of whom have seen their lives touched by violence. Last year, 233 women and 65 children received treatment at UNC Horizons, and 51 healthy babies were born to women in the program. To learn more, visit unchorizons.org.