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Awards, Honors, and Grants

February 28, 2022

Spagnolo, Mehta and Ross Win McGraw Opioid Innovator and Shark Tank Awards

Primavera A Spagnolo, MD, PhD Anupama Mehta, MD Jason Ross, MD

The Brigham Research Institute (BRI) announced the winners of the latest “Shark Tank” competition, a biannual event featuring researchers and innovators from the Brigham who pitch their projects to an audience of internal reviewers and philanthropic supporters. Inspired by the hit ABC show Shark Tank, the event awards funding to projects with the potential to make an impact in one or more of the following domains: biomedical research, healthcare delivery, digital innovation, the generation of new companies/projects/services, cost savings, care quality and provider burnout.

This year, with the generous support of the McGraw Family, this cycle’s request for applications includes a special track focused on advancing innovations related to solving the opioid crisis, which has resulted in the loss of over 2000 lives in the past year in Massachusetts alone.

Novel ideas that seek to address questions and challenges related to the opioid epidemic including, but not limited to, research on addiction, adverse effects, alternate pain management strategies, genetic susceptibility to opioid abuse, new tools for opioid research, diagnosis/treatment, management of infectious diseases related to opioid abuse, withdrawal and personalized medicine were awarded.

  • In first place was Primavera A Spagnolo, MD, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry & Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, for her proof-of-concept study aimed at evaluating the effect of palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) on stress-induced craving, pain and mood in patients with opioid use disorder. 
  • In 2nd place was Anupama Mehta, MD, of the Division of Trauma, Burn and Surgical Critical Care, and Jason Ross, MD, of the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, for their pilot study addressing the question: “Can Olfactory Virtual Reality reduce opioid consumption and improve tolerance in burn patients undergoing dressing changes?”

Launched in 2005, the BRI’s overarching mission is to accelerate discoveries that improve human health. Supporting strategies include fostering groundbreaking, interdepartmental and interdisciplinary research, ranging from basic fundamental studies to clinical innovations.