Opioid Advisory Task Force Leadership Committee

Ben Clark, PhD

Medical School, Neuroscience
Dr. Clark is the senior program manager for the University of Minnesota’s Medical Discovery Team on Addiction (MDTA). He is a University of Minnesota alumnus of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience. As senior program manager of the MDTA he works closely with the MDTA Director, Dr. Mark Thomas, to lead and oversee the operational efficiency of the day-to-day research support functions and to provide key strategic direction of the MDTA initiative.

Bobbi Daniels, MD

Office of Academic Clinical Affairs
Bobbi Daniels is the Associate Vice President for Clinical Affairs and is responsible for developing innovative solutions to vexing health care problems by bringing together expertise from across the University and by engaging with community partners.

Carolyn Fairbanks, PhD

College of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutics
Carolyn Fairbanks develops non-addictive analgesic medications to treat chronic pain and treatments for opioid addiction. She also uses pre-clinical models of opioid addiction and relapse in the context of chronic pain to understand how the reward centers may be altered under the condition of chronic pain.

James Fricton DDS, MS

Professor Emeritus
Dr. Fricton is a Professor Emeritus in the University of Minnesota Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, and Public Health. He was trained in Dentistry at the University of Iowa and in Medical Anesthesiology and Pain Management at UCLA School of Medicine and started the Orofacial Pain Program at the University of Minnesota. He has 40 years of experience in patient care, University teaching, and National Institutes of Health-sponsored research on relieving and preventing chronic head and neck pain and use of health information technology in patient care.

Pinar Karaca-Mandic, PhD

Carlson School of Management, Finance (MILI)
Pinar Karaca-Mandic teaches economics of healthcare marketplace, health finance and medical technology evaluation, including as related to pharmaceutical use. She has published on issues related to opioid prescribing by physicians and hospitals, and is also the PI on a new grant by American Cancer Society to study the entry and uptake of biosimilar drugs in the U.S. markets.

Kerry Michael, PhD

U of M-Morris, Psychology
Kerry Michael is a professor of psychology at UMN Morris. She is the co-PI on a grant to evaluate drug court program in MN Eighth Judicial District.

Laura Palombi, PharmD, MPH, MAT, AE-C

College of Pharmacy, Duluth; Department of Pharmacy Practice and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Laura Palombi is an assistant professor and community-based participatory action researcher focused on preventing and addressing substance abuse. She has been involved in a variety of projects and collaborations in Northeastern Minnesota, including memberships on numerous rural coalitions and partnerships with public health departments. She has affiliate appointments in the School of Public Health and Center for Bioethics.

Marizen Ramirez, PhD, MPH

School of Public Health, Division of Environmental Health Sciences
Injuries and violence are topics of interest to Marizen Ramirez, an epidemiologist who studies effective and evidence-based solutions. She has a special focus on vulnerable populations such as children, persons with disabilities, agricultural workers, minorities, and people in rural areas. With opioid overdose now the number one cause of injury death in the United States, she is beginning to explore risk factors and measures to prevent and respond to the opioid epidemic.

Charles Reznikoff, MD

Medical School, Medicine
Charles Reznikoff participates in the Minnesota Department of Human Service Opioid Provider Work Group. He collaborates with the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement to improve consistency of opioid prescribing and addiction treatment statewide. He also works with the Minnesota Medical Association and the Steve Rummler Hope Network to develop curriculum for medical students and providers to better prescribe opioids and treat opioid addiction.

Clarence Shannon IV, MD

Medical School, Department of Anesthesiology
Dr. Shannon has demonstrated excellence as a clinician, teacher, mentor, and researcher. His leadership as Executive Medical Director of Pain Management has resulted in a comprehensive care model that is transforming treatment for patients seeking relief from chronic pain while dramatically reducing the reliance on opioids.

Mark Thomas, PhD

Medical School, Neuroscience
Mark Thomas studies brain pathways and stimulation to prevent drug addiction relapse. These studies will provide insight into the cellular and molecular mechanisms of an important form of experience-dependent plasticity that may hold some of the clues to drug addiction.

Harold Tu, MD, DMD

School of Dentistry, Developmental and Surgical Sciences
Harold Tu is Director of the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the UMN School of Dentistry, as well as an associate professor. His research includes non-opioid protocol in managing acute postoperative pain. He also studies opioid knowledge and prescriber behavior of dental students, residents and faculty.

Deb Wamsley, MA

College of Continuing and Professional Studies
Debra Wamsley has spent most of her career providing evidence-based care for co-occurring addictions and mental health concerns. In addition to primary care, her interests include advocacy and dispelling disparate access and resources for underserved communities.

George Wilcox, PhD

Medical School, Neuroscience
George Wilcox’s research is focused on neural mechanisms of opioid analgesia and analgesic synergy in spinal cord and peripheral tissues. He and his team have developed a non-addictive combination opioid treatment that lacks the CNS side effects like respiratory depression and addiction liability.