About NCATS' Role in the NIH HEAL InitiativeSM

NCATS is playing a major role in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM) Initiative, a trans-agency effort focused on improving prevention and treatment strategies for opioid misuse and addiction, and enhancing pain management. Launched in April 2018 with funding from Congress, the HEAL Initiative, brings new hope for people, families, and communities affected by the national opioid public health crisis.

Learn more about the NIH HEAL InitiativeSM.

The word "PAIN" on a chalkboard with an eraser


With NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM) Initiative support, NCATS is providing a suite of translational science resources and expertise to investigators working on opioid and pain research. With its expert collaborative infrastructure already in place, the Center is leading trans-NIH collaborative HEAL efforts that include:

  • Developing new testing platforms that more closely model human biology than currently available cell and animal models, using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), tissue chips and 3-D tissue bioprinting;
  • Identifying and de-risking potential therapies that work in novel ways through assays (tests) and high-throughput screening to select and develop compounds that show promise as potential drugs;
  • Accelerating the identification of promising chemical structures and developing those into pharmacological or drug-like compounds;
  • Advancing promising new drug candidates through rigorous pre-clinical efficacy and safety studies for first-in-human clinical trials as required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and
  • Facilitating opportunities to partner with other NIH Institutes and Centers as well as clinical research institutions nationwide to conduct studies to determine the effectiveness of existing pain management treatments.

Through the NIH HEAL InitiativeSM, NCATS is applying the breakthrough approaches of translational science to advance new treatments for the opioid crisis, the public health challenge of our era.