OPTIC Staff

Bradley D. Stein, M.D., Ph.D.

Center Director

Bradley D. Stein, Center Director, is a practicing physician and senior physician policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. Over the last decade, Stein has served as principal investigator for numerous federally and privately funded studies related to the opioid crisis. He has published multiple peer-reviewed articles related to the opioid crisis in top-tier journals, including studies of opioid use disorder treatment, opioid analgesic prescribing, effects of state and federal policies, and equity in access and treatment of opioid use disorder. He actively shares his findings with federal and state policymakers. As OPTIC’s director, he fosters synergies across all of the Center’s activities; oversees OPTIC’s activities to support junior investigators; ensures that all of the OPTIC team are aware of changes in the rapidly evolving opioid policy landscape and emerging research focused on those policies; and spearheads wide dissemination of OPTIC findings, tools, and methods to the opioid policy research community, policymakers, and other stakeholders.

Rosalie Liccardo Pacula

Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Ph.D.

Center Co-Director; Data and Methods Core Co-Director and Co-Principal Investigator

Rosalie Pacula holds the Elizabeth Garrett Chair in Health Policy, Economics & Law and is a professor of Health Policy and Management at the Sol Price School of Public Policy and Faculty within the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics at the University of Southern California. Pacula’s research focuses on the supply and demand for alcohol, marijuana, opioid and other addictive substances. She has developed techniques for measuring the size of these markets; identified factors influencing their supply and demand; and evaluated the effectiveness of policy interventions targeting suppliers, users, harms from use/supply, and the delivery of effective treatment services. She led OPTIC's effort to create data visualization tools accurately describing policy timelines for curated policy variables, developing new ways of presenting the policy data in visually instructive and appealing ways. She has also worked to build a publicly available opioid policy database that identifies effective elements of state policies that reduce opioid related harm; expansions of the database are ongoing. The state policy data generated through OPTIC have served as a resource to researchers nationwide.

Beth Ann Griffin

Beth Ann Griffin, Ph.D.

Data and Methods Core Co-Director and Co-Principal Investigator

Beth Ann Griffin is a senior statistician at the RAND Corporation and a founding Co-Director of the RAND Center for Causal Inference, which promotes dissemination of advanced causal modeling techniques to researchers around the globe. Griffin has published extensively on methodological developments for drawing more robust inferences using observational data and substantive findings regarding substance use treatments. She has been actively involved in developing numerous short courses on causal inference methods as well as creating user-friendly tools that provide guidance on optimal ways to estimate the causal effects of state-level policy, including in the presence of co-occurring policies. The statistical methods and resources generated by her work are advancing the field by facilitating high-quality evaluations of complex policy interventions.

Courtney Kase, k0411

Courtney Kase, MPH

Center Manager

Courtney Ann Kase is a policy analyst at the RAND Corporation and manager of the Opioid Policy Tools and Information Center. She has experience in qualitative research, project management, and program evaluation. She co-leads qualitative data collection and analysis on projects covering community health, behavioral health, and health care access and quality topics, and works in tandem with principal investigators to manage complex projects. She provides research support to ensure availability and widespread dissemination of OPTIC tools and methods to the opioid policy research community. She also meets regularly with OPTIC's advisors from the National Governors Association and the National Council of State Legislators to ensure that OPTIC's communication and dissemination activities remain responsive to policymakers and the policy environment.

Rosanna Smart, Ph.D.

Project Principal Investigator – Opioid policy components: Developing Metrics to Account for Heterogenous Design of State Opioid Policies

Rosanna Smart is an economist at the RAND Corporation and Associate Director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center, with expertise in econometric analysis related to substance use. She has examined multiple topics related to substance use and associated health consequences, marijuana and opioid policy changes, gun policy, and the economics of crime. Her research combines theoretical models of behavioral responses to regulatory changes with rigorous empirical methods to understand both the intended and unintended consequences of policy changes on substance use and other health outcomes. Of special value to OPTIC is Smart's understanding of how policy design and implementation shape substance use behavior while accounting for the broader regulatory, economic, and cultural context in which policy changes occur.

david powell

David Powell, Ph.D.

Project Principal Investigator – Measuring the Presence of Opioid Markets in Local Communities and Their Impacts on Harm

David Powell is a senior economist at the RAND Corporation. Much of his recent work focuses on the broader impacts of the opioid crisis, especially regarding markets, labor supply, and social insurance. He has examined the origins of the opioid crisis and the driving forces behind its transitions, showing that the transition of the crisis to the second and third waves had substantial impacts on employment and disability insurance rates. In other research focused on policies that impact opioid-related overdoses, he has paid particular attention to the potential for unintended consequences on opioid use. He has also examined how large prescription drug coverage expansions, naloxone access laws, Good Samaritan laws, medical marijuana laws, and the introduction of abuse-deterrent prescription opioids affect opioid-related outcomes.

Mary Vaiana, Ph.D.

Center Communications Analyst

Mary Vaiana is a senior research communications analyst at the RAND Corporation and leads the Center's communication and dissemination efforts. Vaiana is founder of RAND's Research Communications Group, a team of communications professionals with special expertise in transforming technical findings into accessible documents, web material, and presentations. She created and taught RAND's initial Policy Workshops, which served as the model for OPTIC workshops. She supports the Center's mission in multiple ways—structuring, reviewing, and revising manuscripts and presentations; improving usability of the Center’s public goods; and authoring a series of Key Takeaways that meet the needs of policy audiences.

megan schuler, s0889

Megan Schuler, Ph.D.

Data and Methods Core Co-Investigator, Project Co-Investigator - Developing Methodological Tools to Account for Concurrent State Policies in Opioid Research

Megan Schuler is an associate policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. An applied statistician, she focuses her research on statistical methodology as well as health and health services inequities, particularly relating to substance use and mental health. A central theme of her research is heterogeneity in substance use and mental health behaviors, disorders, and treatment. Her work has characterized variation in use of behavioral health services and examined how associations between substance use and risk factors vary dynamically across age. Methodologically, her research focuses on estimation of causal effects in the analysis of observational health data. Schuler's expertise as an applied statistician with a strong background in substance use and mental health is a valuable component of OPTIC's efforts to foster innovative research in opioid policy science.

Seema (Choksy) Pessar, photo courtesy of Tracy Boulian and David Ahntholz

Seema (Choksy) Pessar, M.P.P.

Data and Methods Core Co-Investigator

Seema (Choksy) Pessa is a senior health policy project associate in the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics at the University of Southern California. Throughout her career, she has conducted primary and secondary data collection efforts, analyzed policy effects, and translated policy research for policymakers and the public. For OPTIC, she supervised development of a county-level analytic database for use in evaluating policy effects, and led analyses based on different epidemiological databases to examine geographic differences in opioid related harm. The information she assembled on state emergency responses during COVID-19 was a valuable addition to OPTIC’s ongoing assessments of how the pandemic affected access to treatment for opioid use disorder.

Elizabeth Stuart

Elizabeth Stuart, Ph.D.

Project Co-Investigator – Developing Methodological Tools to Account for Concurrent State Policies in Opioid Research

Elizabeth Stuart is Bloomberg Professor of American Health in the Department of Mental Health and Executive Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Stuart's research focuses on developing statistical methods for estimating causal effects and applying the methods to mental health, substance use, education, and public policy. Her methodological work has examined use of propensity score methods to estimate causal effects in non-experimental studies, methods to assess and enhance the generalizability of randomized trial results to target populations, and policy evaluation methods. Of special value to OPTIC is her work to develop guidance for best practice in estimating state policy effects and to disseminate advanced statistical methods, through pedagogical articles, formal and informal teaching, and short courses.

Stephen W. Patrick

Stephen W. Patrick, M.D., M.P.H.

Project Co-Investigator – Developing Methodological Tools to Account for Concurrent State Policies in Opioid Research

Stephen W. Patrick is the Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy; Executive Director of Firefly, a comprehensive treatment program for pregnant people with opioid use disorder; an associate professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; and an attending neonatologist at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. He is an adjunct physician policy researcher at RAND and a guest researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His NIH-funded work focuses on improving outcomes for pregnant people with opioid use disorder and their infants, and evaluating how state and federal policies affect their health outcomes. He has also examined how community resources and characteristics, including access to medical care and employment, may negatively or positively affect outcomes for families impacted by the opioid crisis. He has published extensively in leading scientific journals and testified about the impact of the opioid crisis on pregnant people and infants before committees in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

bryce pardo

Bryce Pardo, Ph.D.

Project Co-Investigator - Opioid policy components: Developing Metrics to Account for Heterogeneous Design of State Opioid Policies and Synthetic Opioid Markets

Bryce Pardo is an adjuct policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. His work focuses on drug policy, with a particular interest in the areas of opioid controls, new psychoactive substance markets, and illicit synthetic opioid trafficking. He has over ten years of experience working with national, state, and local governments in crime and drug policy. His research and academic works have been published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, Addiction, Lancet Psychology, Criminology and Public Policy, and reports for the London School of Economics, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Pan-American Health Organization, and the National Academy of Sciences.

Sean Grant, Ph.D.

Project Co-Investigator – Opioid Policy Components: Developing Metrics to Account for Heterogenous Design of State Opioid Policies

Sean Grant is an adjunct social and behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation, a research associate professor at the HEDCO Institute for Evidence-Based Practice at the University of Oregon, and an associate professor in social and behavioral sciences at Indiana University's Fairbanks School of Public Health. A methodologist, his specific expertise is applying social and behavioral research methods in projects aiming to create, organize, and synthesize scientific evidence for public health decisionmaking. He has concentrated his research in three areas: stakeholder engagement, evidence synthesis, and research transparency and reproducibility. He is the lead investigator for the ExpertLens Team, conducting mixed-method online expert panels; in collaboration with co-investigator Rosanna Smart, he has been using results from the panels to build out a taxonomic system for opioid policy.

Tim Naimi

Timothy Naimi, M.D., M.P.H.

Project Co-Investigator – Opioid Policy Components: Developing Metrics to Account for Heterogenous Design of State Opioid Policies

Timothy Naimi is a physician and alcohol epidemiologist and substance use policy researcher at Boston Medical Center and a professor at Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health. Naimi has been a principal investigator on NIH-funded projects to develop and validate composite measures of state substance use policy environments for both alcohol and marijuana. He provides expertise to OPTIC to assist in developing similar composite policy measures for opioids.

Brendan Saloner

Brendan Saloner, Ph.D.

Project Co-Investigator - Measuring the Presence of Opioid Markets in Local Communities and Their Impacts on Harm

Brendan Saloner is a Bloomberg Associate Professor of American Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a joint appointment in the Department of Mental Health. He co-leads the workgroup on addiction and overdose in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg American Health Initiative, where he has led work with states to develop opioid response plans. Saloner's research examines health care services for disadvantaged populations, with a focus on access to treatment for substance use disorders. Of special value to OPTIC is his expertise in applying national survey data and state administrative databases to measure illicit drug markets, and his understanding of measures of federal and state programs that address opioid-related risk factors.