Save the Date, April 12-13, 2018! Diseases of Despair: The Role of Policy and Law


Anne Case and Angus Deaton shocked the world with their 2015 report that noted an increase in all-cause mortality among middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States. This pattern is not occurring in other groups within the United States and Europe. Their report, and others since then, have linked this trend to so-called deaths of despair (death from suicide, chronic substance use, and overdoses) and their linkage to other determinants of health (education, labor markets, marital patterns). A recent update to the report makes it clear that this trend is no longer limited to any particular geographic region within the United States.

This year’s NUSL Center for Health Policy and Law annual conference and associated scholarship will bring together experts, policymakers, and academics to discuss the causes behind such trends, and to explore potential political, policy, and legal responses for addressing broader determinants that affect the physical and mental health of Americans dying from these diseases of despair. Deeper examination into similar patterns among diverse populations, as well as analysis of continuing racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities, will be central to the discourse.

This event is sponsored by the Center for Health Policy and Law at the Northeastern University School of Law. Cosponsored by the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Raytheon Amphitheater, Egan Research Center, Northeastern University, 120 Forsyth Street, Boston, MA

1:30 – 2:30pm, Opening Remarks

The Honorable Patrick J. Kennedy is a former member of the US House of Representatives and the nation’s leading political voice on mental illness, addiction, and other brain diseases. During his 16-year career representing Rhode Island in Congress, he fought a national battle to end medical and societal discrimination against these illnesses, highlighted by his lead sponsorship of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008–and his brave openness about his own health challenges.

The son of Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, he decided to leave Congress not long after his father’s death to devote his career to advocacy for brain diseases and to create a new, healthier life and start a family. He has since founded the Kennedy Forum, which unites the community of mental health, and co-founded One Mind, a global leader in open science collaboration in brain research. Kennedy is also the co-author of “A Common Struggle,” which outlines both his personal story and a bold plan for the future of mental health in America. Representative Kennedy was appointed in May, 2017, to sit on the Trump administration’s Presidential Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crises.

Patrick is living in long term recovery from opiate addiction in New Jersey with his wife, Amy, and their four children.

2:30 – 4:00pm, Paper Workshop

4:00 – 5:00pm, Public Health Law Watch Panel

Friday, April 13, 2018

Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex (ISEC), Northeastern University, 39 Cunard Street, Boston, MA 

8:00 – 8:45am, Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:45 – 9:00am, Welcome and Introduction

  • Jeremy Paul, Dean and Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law
  • Wendy E. Parmet, Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Center for Health Policy and Law, Northeastern University School of Law; Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs

9:00 – 10:15am, Keynote and Featured Speakers

Senator Maggie Hassan ’85 is the second woman in American history to be elected both Governor and United States Senator, along with fellow New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

Elected to the US Senate in 2016, Senator Hassan is working to combat the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis; expand access to job training and make college more affordable for our students and families; help innovative businesses grow and create good jobs; and build a more inclusive economic future where all people who work hard to get ahead can stay ahead.

She is also focused on strengthening national security; protecting Social Security and Medicare; ensuring that veterans get the services that they need and deserve; combating climate change and preserving our natural resources; and protecting a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.

  • Featured Speaker: Dr. Michael Fraser, Executive Director, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO)

Michael Fraser is the executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the US territories, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. Prior to joining ASTHO, he served as the executive vice president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Medical Society in Harrisburg, PA. He served as CEO of the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) from 2007 to 2013.

Prior to joining AMCHP, Michael was the deputy executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials from 2002 to 2007, and served in several capacities at the US Department of Health and Human Services, including positions at the Health Resources and Services Administration and the CDC. Michael received his doctorate and master’s degrees in sociology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a masters in management, strategy and leadership from the Eli Broad School of Business Michigan State University. He received his B.A. in sociology from Oberlin College in 1991. He is currently active in the American Society of Association Executives, serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, and an ex-officio member of the Public Health Accreditation Board.

10:15 – 11:30am, Morning Plenary: Diseases of Despair: Defining the Problem

  • Scott Burris, Professor of Law, Beasley School of Law, Temple University
  • Todd Hembree, Attorney General, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
  • Dr. William Martin, Dean and Professor Administration, College of Public Health, Ohio State University
  • Shannon Monnat, Lerner Chair of Public Health Promotion and Associate Professor of Sociology, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University
  • Moderator: Wendy E. Parmet, Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Center for Health Policy and Law, Northeastern University School of Law

11:30 – 11:45am, Break

11:45 AM – 1:00pm, Concurrent Panels I

Panel A: Opioids/Substance Use Disorder
  • Scott Hadland, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Avana Jordan, Assistant Professor, Yale School of Medicine
  • Monique Tula, Executive Director, Harm Reduction Coalition
  • Moderator: Leo Beletsky, Associate Professor of Law and Health Sciences, Northeastern University School of Law
Panel B: Violence
  • Chaplain Clementina Chery, Founder, President, CEO, Louis D. Brown Peace Institute
  • Carlos Cuevas, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Northeastern University
  • Bindu Kalesan, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Director, Center for Clinical Translational Epidemiology and Comparative Effectiveness Research Preventive Medicine & Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine;
  • Emily Rothman, Associate Professor, Boston University School of Public Health
  • Moderator: Dr. Gregory Curfman, Director of Research and Publication, Physician Scholar, Northeastern University School of Law
Panel C: Suicide
  • Joseph Simonetti, School of Medicine, University of Colorado
  • Jason Smith, Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Health Sciences, California State University, East Bay
  • Peter Wyman, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the School and Community-Based Prevention Laboratory, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Moderator: Matthew Miller, Professor, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University

1:00 – 2:30pm, Lunch

  • Luncheon Speaker: Michael Boticelli, Executive Director, The Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine, Boston Medical Center; former Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Obama Administration

Michael Botticelli is the executive director of the Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine at Boston Medical Center and a Distinguished Policy Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Prior to this, Michael was the Director of National Drug Control Policy for the Obama Administration. He joined the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) as Deputy Director in November 2012 and later served as Acting Director. Mr. Botticelli has more than two decades of experience supporting Americans affected by substance use disorders. Prior to joining ONDCP, he served as Director of the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, where he successfully expanded innovative and nationally recognized prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery services for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He also forged strong partnerships with local, state, and Federal law enforcement agencies; state and local health and human service agencies; and stakeholder groups to guide and implement evidence-based programs.

Mr. Botticelli holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Siena College and a Master of Education degree from St. Lawrence University. He is also in long-term recovery from a substance use disorder, celebrating more than 28 years of recovery.

2:30 – 3:30pm, Afternooon Plenary: Disparate Discourses: The Persistence of Racial and Gender Disparities in Diseases of Despair

  • Brietta Clark, Associate Dean for Faculty, Professor of Law, and J. Rex Dibble Fellow, Loyola Law School
  • Renée Landers, Professor of Law and Director of Health Law Concentration, Suffolk University Law School
  • Dayna Matthew, William L. Matheson and Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor of Law and F. Palmer Weber Research Professor of Civil Liberties and Human Rights, University of Virginia School of Law
  • Moderator: Aziza Ahmed, Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law

3:30 – 3:45pm, Break

3:45 – 5:00pm, Concurrent Panels II

Panel A: State and Local Innovations
  • Sarah Downer, Clinical Instructor, and Katie Garfield, Staff Attorney, Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation, Harvard Law School
  • Jessica Mantel, Associate Professor, Co-Director, Health Law & Policy Institute, University of Houston Law Center
  • Trish Riley, Executive Director, National Academy for State Health Policy
  • Moderator: Jennifer Lea Huer, Managing Director, Center for Health Policy and Law, Northeastern University School of Law
Panel B:  Medical-Legal Partnerships
  • Tamar Ezer, Lecturer in Law, Associate Research Scholar in Law and Schell Visiting Human Rights Scholar, Yale Law School;
  • JoHanna Flacks, Legal Director, MLPB;
  • Renee Knake, Professor of Law, Doherty Chair in Legal Ethics, Director of Outcomes and Assessments, University of Houston Law Center;
  • Elizabeth Tobin Tyler, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, Alpert Medical School, Assistant Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice, Brown University School of Public Health
  • Moderator: Margo Lindauer, Associate Teaching Professor and Director of the Domestic Violence Institute, Northeastern University
Panel C:  Medicaid Innovation
  • Jane Perkins, Legal Director, National Health Law Program
  • Sidney Watson, Professor of Law, Saint Louis University School of Law
  • Moderator: Jean McGuire, Professor of Practice, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University

5:00 – 6:00pm, Closing Reception

The Petrie-Flom Center Staff

The Petrie-Flom Center staff often posts updates, announcements, and guests posts on behalf of others.

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