Date February 23, 2023

Advance-K Scholar Spotlight: Justin Berk, MD, MPH, MBA

Justin Berk, MD, MPH, MBA, has been awarded a K23 Award by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Congratulations, Dr. Berk! Dr. Justin Berk

Dr. Berk, Assistant Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and a physician at Lifespan, submitted his grant application as part of cohort 2 of the Advance-K Scholar Career Development Program. The yearlong program from the Brown Division of BioMed and Advance-CTR gives one-on-one and group training to highly qualified junior investigators with the goal of submitting a successful NIH K or equivalent proposal by the conclusion of the program. The K23 Award will help Dr. Berk launch his independent research career.

The Study: Injectable Extended-Release Buprenorphine (XR-B) in a Correctional Setting: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial 

Dr. Berk, formerly the Medical Director for the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC), has always been drawn to help those with addiction and addiction-related diseases. “I received my clinical training in a very focused program that took care of marginalized populations who are disproportionately affected by addiction,” he notes. “The natural progression of addiction, unfortunately, is to become incarcerated. You have to go to prisons to reach that group. Medications have been shown to be helpful, so we are looking at novel ways to deliver medication in a correctional setting.”

Dr. Berk’s study will compare treatment outcomes between patients within RIDOC who receive Buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorder sublingually, in the traditional way, and those receiving extended-release injections. His primary mentor is Dr. Jody Rich.

“ I’m grateful for the support of all the mentors and leaders, who have been so critical in helping me achieve the opportunity to lead my own research. ”

Keys to Success

Dr. Berk shares that the Advance-K Scholar Career Program has been instrumental in his transition to independent clinician-scientist. 

“Advance-K is one of the most helpful programs for people interested in research especially if overwhelmed by the application process. Expert researchers and mentors have really helped me as a clinician without extensive research training. I’ve gotten consulting support in qualitative studies, survey design, statistical analysis, and grant-writing. I’m grateful for the support of all the mentors and leaders, who have been so critical in helping me achieve the opportunity to lead my own research.

“I’m particularly grateful to Dr. Daphne Koinis-Mitchell who mentored me from day one, supported me through the whole process and was the one to encourage me to apply to the Advance-K program.”


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