August 6, 2020

Patrick receives award for children’s health research

Stephen Patrick, MD, MPH, MS, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy, has been awarded the fifth annual Gale and Ira Drukier Prize in Children’s Health Research.


by Christina Echegaray

Stephen Patrick, MD, MPH, MS, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy, has been awarded the fifth annual Gale and Ira Drukier Prize in Children’s Health Research.

Stephen Patrick, MD, MPH, MS

Patrick, a neonatologist at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and associate professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy, received the recognition for his work on improving outcomes for pregnant women and infants affected by the opioid epidemic, including infants who have drug withdrawal symptoms after birth, known as neonatal abstinence syndrome, as well as evaluating state and federal control policies.

“Dr. Patrick has become the leading national authority on opioid addiction and its impact on pregnant women, children and newborns. He is influencing the national agenda and advising states and the federal government. We are delighted that his scholarship has been recognized with the Drukier Prize. This is so well deserved,” said Steven Webber, MBChB, MRCP, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt, pediatrician-in-chief of Children’s Hospital and James C. Overall Professor.

The Drukier Prize, established in 2014 as part of a gift to Weill Cornell Medicine, honors early career pediatricians whose research has made important contributions toward improving the health of children and adolescents.

The gift also created the Drukier Institute for Children’s Health, a premier, interdisciplinary institute dedicated to understanding the underlying causes of diseases that are devastating to children. As part of its mission, the institute awards the annual prize to recognize the innovative work done by young investigators in pediatric research.

Among his many studies, Patrick’s findings have shown a link between in utero opioid exposure and newborn health and that the number of infants diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome grew nearly sevenfold between 2000 and 2016 nationwide. Additionally, one of his studies found a link between higher rates of the syndrome and long-term unemployment, especially in rural areas, and his findings have had a direct impact on policy changes that benefit children.

Patrick is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Substance Use and Prevention and the Society for Pediatric Research, which awarded him its Young Investigator Award in 2019. He is also a research fellow with the RAND Opioid Policy Tools and Information Center.

Previously, he was senior science policy adviser to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and he has testified before Congress on the rising numbers of newborns diagnosed with opioid withdrawal after birth. He also has served as a board member on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s multi-state plan program advisory board. In his roles, he also served as an expert consultant for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s development of a guide to the management of opioid-dependent pregnant and parenting women and their children.

Patrick is a graduate of the University of Florida, Florida State University College of Medicine and Harvard School of Public Health. He completed his training in pediatrics, neonatology and health services research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the University of Michigan. He joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2013.