Public Release: 

NIH leadership outlines interdisciplinary FY2018 research plan for HEAL Initiative

NIH/Office of the Director

In a perspective published today in The Journal of the American Medical Association, National Institutes of Health leadership detail components of a newly released research plan for the Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative. The HEAL Initiative is a trans-NIH effort launched in April 2018 to advance national priorities in addressing the opioid crisis through science. With a focus on two primary areas--improving treatments for opioid misuse and addiction, and enhancing strategies for pain management--the plan describes a multifaceted program encompassing pre-clinical, clinical, drug repurposing, and community-based approaches.

NIH outlines initial investments of the $500 million appropriated by Congress for fiscal year 2018 to bolster NIH's research efforts in addiction and pain. Critical components of the HEAL research plan for FY2018 include:

  • Developing extended-release and longer-acting opioid use disorder (OUD) medications and new therapies to counteract opioid-induced respiratory depression.
  • Reformulating current medication-assisted treatments (MAT) to promote adherence to recovery programs by Americans on OUD medications.
  • Supporting discovery and development of targets for non-addictive pain management, and therapies to treat those targets.
  • Collecting data to determine what factors lead acute pain to transition to chronic pain and how to block that transition.
  • Partnering with public and private groups to test effective treatments for pain and addiction using HEAL's clinical trial networks.
  • Expanding NIH's Advancing Clinical Trials in Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal syndrome (ACT NOW) to assess its prevalence and determine best practices for clinical care of infants with this condition.
  • Advancing new models of care for OUD and test integrated, evidence-based interventions within healthcare and criminal justice settings through the multi-site HEALing Communities initiative.



Collins FS, Koroshetz WJ, Volkow ND. Helping to End Addiction Over the Long-term: The Research Plan for the NIH HEAL Initiative. Journal of the American Medical Association DOI: 10.1001/jama.2018.8826. For a copy of the article, please email


  • Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, NIH
  • Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
  • Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse


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