University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Beth Stafford

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Sep 20, 2011 
Fendrich named Wisconsin Distinguished Professor
Michael Fendrich
Michael Fendrich

Michael Fendrich, director of the Center for Addiction and Behavioral Health Research (CABHR) and a professor of social work in the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, has been named the university’s latest Wisconsin Distinguished Professor.

To date, Fendrich’s research has focused on the epidemiology of drug and alcohol abuse, the use of biomarkers for measuring substance use in community surveys, the association between substance use and high-risk behavior in college students and young adults, and the impact of interventions addressing substance abuse in criminal justice and other high-risk settings.

Fendrich’s work has been supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the National Institute of Justice.

Private funding for Fendrich’s Wisconsin Distinguished Professorship comes from Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW). The professorship focuses on a partnership between the CUW School of Pharmacy and CABHR that will dramatically increase the training of new Pharm.D.s (Doctors of Pharmacy) in Wisconsin regarding the epidemiology, health consequences and economic impact of addiction and substance misuse in Wisconsin.

“The Wisconsin Distinguished Professorship provides an excellent opportunity for Professor Fendrich to work with other community partners, such as Concordia University, to address the problem of prescription medication abuse in the state. This collaboration is a win-win for both UWM and Concordia University,” says Stan Stojkovic, dean and professor in the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare.

A persistent problem

Fendrich cites U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration statistics that point to the diversion of prescription medication as a persistent problem in Wisconsin, with considerable economic consequences and potentially lasting adverse consequences for the pharmaceutical industry. 

The distinguished professorship helps Fendrich expand his program of research in this area and explore effective pharmacist-based prevention strategies that might reduce the scope of this problem.

“Potentially, we have an important intervention point with pharmacists,” he says. “This new school at Concordia University that is training pharmacists presents an opportunity to develop intervention research and develop curriculum around their role in detection and prevention.”

The expertise of UWM’s CABHR scientists will be tapped in partnering with CUW to develop a social- and behavioral-science curriculum targeted to pharmacists. Fendrich hopes to incorporate training on substance abuse and prescription drug misuse within this curriculum. He also plans to partner with CUW faculty researchers in the development of his new research agenda.

CUW faculty include John Dellinger, chairman of the Department of Pharmaceutical and Administrative Sciences and associate dean of research for the pharmacy school. Dellinger formerly was a senior scientist with CABHR as a professor in UWM’s College of Health Sciences.

“This partnership between UWM and CUW is an important model for collaboration,” says Fendrich. “Our two universities represent how a public and a private institution can develop research, generate new grant funding and create innovative training strategies.”

Broadening our reach

Fendrich believes it’s important for UWM to “broaden its reach” with this type of public/private partnership. He points out that CUW is located near UWM’s main campus and has the only pharmacy program in Southeastern Wisconsin.

“For UWM, this distinguished professorship presents a great opportunity to reach out and engage a new cadre of people who are going to be serving our community in a critically important way,” Fendrich says.

Established in 1988, the Wisconsin Distinguished Professorship program supports 20 researchers in the UW System whose scholarship demonstrates a potential impact on Wisconsin’s economy, and who are nationally recognized experts in their fields.

Wisconsin Distinguished Professors are required to attract at least $25,000 in extramural support annually for at least five years. This donation is matched by $25,000 in state funds. Appointments are highly competitive, and the private money must be unrestricted.

Each professorship may end after five years or be renewed with the same sponsors or new ones. Other Wisconsin Distinguished Professors at UWM include Carolyn Aita, Chemistry/Biochemistry, College of Letters and Science; Arun Garg, Industrial Engineering, and Pradeep Rohatgi, Materials Engineering, College of Engineering & Applied Science; and William (Dave) Haseman, Internet Technology, and Hemant Jain, Information Technology Management, Lubar School of Business.