THINK TANK #3: Using AI and Other Technologies to Fight America’s Opioid Epidemic

The Goal of this Event:

Whether you’re a medical or healthcare expert, or simply a concerned citizen, we are calling on everyone to be part of the solution.” —  David Goodman (Chair of the Ohio Third Frontier Commission)

This event will offer you an overview of the magnitude of America’s opioid epidemic destroying lives and communities across the country using data, case studies, and personal stories that will dispel some of the myths and misinformation around the stigma of opioid use disorder and addiction.

Attendees will then be introduced to how Artificial Intelligence (AI), as well as other emerging technologies including machine learning, blockchain and VR, are being used to  help all stakeholders on the front lines of the struggle to combat opioid addiction (addicts and their families, medical staff, law enforcement, politicians, educators, businesses, etc.).

Together, through group problem-solving sessions, attendees will participate in the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge (a global challenge presented by the Ohio Third Frontier Commission seeking new approaches and technology solutions that could help combat the U.S. opioid problem, whether they be from regular citizens or researchers and scientists). Everyone will have an opportunity to share their ideas on how to use emerging tech to help in opioid epidemic fight.

Guest Speakers include (bios below):

  • Sam Frons, a recovering addict turned tech entrepreneur, who will share her inspiring story and present her innovative startup, Addicaid, an award-winning, personalized addiction recovery app and a collection of AI-enhanced addiction services “for addicts and experts, by addicts”
  • Addrienne Abbate, Executive Director of the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness (SIPCW) and project director for the Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA)) who will speak on how Staten Island has been successfully combating their opioid addiction crisis (Staten Island Fought Back Against the Opioid Epidemic)
  • Dr. James Fan, Dr. James Fan, co-creator of Watson Question Answering System which beat the greatest human Jeopardy! players of all time, CEO/co-Founder of
  • Lisa Colbert, Public Information Officer, Ohio Development Services Agency
  • Charlie Oliver, Founder/CEO Tech 2025 (Served Fresh Media)

MediaSource will be shooting video at the event to showcase the Challenge and how people all over the world are working to find solutions to a problem we all share, and how the Tech 2025 community has responded to the call and is stepping up to generate ideas – putting minds together to see how technology might help with the problem of drug abuse and addiction. The Video will be posted to TechOhio and shared with the Ohio Development Agency Services contituents via their e-newsletter and social feeds.  Below is a sample video

About the Ohio Technology Challenge

The state of Ohio has put out a worldwide call to anyone and everyone to join them “in advancing innovation to combat the opioid crisis.” According to the state of Ohio’s government development website : “The Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge will leverage $8 million of a $20 million commitment to advance new ideas in the battle against drug abuse and addiction. The Challenge is a multi-phase, multi-million-dollar prize competition with escalating prize amounts associated with progressive levels of solution development.


Sam Frons
Sam Frons, founder of Addicaid (an addiction recovery app)
Addrienne Abbate (Executive Director, SIPCW & Project Director, TYSA)
Dr. James Fan
Dr. James Fan, co-creator of Watson Question Answering System, CEO/co-Founder of
Lisa Colbert (Public Information Officer
Ohio Development Services Agency)

Submissions should identify a problem or unmet need, and outline a possible solution regardless of how well-developed the idea. Ideas are encouraged from both professional experts and citizen scientists. The deadline is December 15th. This event will introduce attendees to this challenge and give them an opportunity to explore solutions together.

A National Crisis in Need of Solutions

It’s being called the deadliest drug overdose crisis in America’s history. In 2016, opioid overdoses killed approximately 64,000 people (more than have ever died from car crashes, gun violence, or HIV/AIDS during any single year), becoming the leading cause of death among people under the age of 50. But that’s only a part of this painful crisis. Over 97 million people used prescription opioids in 2015. Of that number, over 2 million people have an “opioid use disorder” that could become a full-blown addiction.

But even as governors in states across the country declare a state of emergency to deal with the opioid crisis destroying their communities, and as Trump has officially declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, the number of people dying from opioid addiction continues to rise at an alarming rate.

The crisis (years in the making) is so out of control, that studies are projecting that the worst is yet to come. Recent research published by STAT is projecting that as many as 6500,000 people could die from opioid addiction in the next decade (STAT forecast: Opioids could kill nearly 500,000 Americans in the next decade). And American  is not the only nation being ravaged by an opioid crisis. Canada’s healthcare system is feeling the burden of a paralyzing opioid epidemic, and there are concerns that the opioid epidemic is set to hit parts of Europe next. View the Opioid Crisis in the United States infographic HERE.

About Sam Frons

The idea was to organize strategies that are relevant for people in recovery and reinforce the strategies through their peers. They all had a starting point in common – not that they all drank too much or smoked too much pot, but there was a similar driving point for their behaviors.” — Sam Frons (via

Sam Frons (@samfrons) is ​a hopeful behavioral systems architect, educator & entrepreneur.

In her own words: “Hello fellow networking professionals! I’m a technologist by profession, artist by education, & fencer by athletics. I strive to live a life of gumption and contribute dutifully to society in the long-term on an as-needed basis.

With nearly a decade of experience in design technology and a lifetime of compulsive behaviors, I realized that there’s a latent ecosystem of innovations waiting to be leveraged to create a streamlined solution for behavior change. Addicaid combines cognitive, clinical, and computational elements to enhance treatment methods that work and reinvent the ones that don’t.”

Recent Articles about Sam: How This CEO Is Using Artificial Intelligence To Treat Addiction (FORBES)  /  This app wants to reprogram your addiction (CNN)  /  Addicaid: Scaling a Digital Platform for Addiction Wellness and Recovery (HBS)

About Adrienne Abbate

Addrienne Abbate (Executive Director, SIPCW & Project Director, TYSA)

Executive Director, SIPCW, and Project Director for TYSA

With more than fifteen years as an ardent advocate for public health, leading, building and cultivating community collaboratives to address urgent health needs, Adrienne currently serves as Executive Director of the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness (SIPCW) and project director for the Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA) coalition.

Adrienne manages and develops a growing staff of employees and guides the strategy for the organization’s programs. Under Abbate’s leadership, SIPCW transitioned from a small membership organization to a dynamic public health entity, which serves as a model for organizations across the city and state.

Because of her extensive knowledge on the topic, Adrienne served on opioid and heroin task forces for the Borough President James Oddo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo and has presented locally and nationally about using collective impact to address complex issues. She is a member of Steering Committees for New York City’s Population Health Improvement Project (PHIP), the Staten Island Performing Provider System and the Staten Island Childhood Wellness Coalition. Most recently, Abbate was named to Health and Mental Hygiene Advisory Council with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH.)

Prior to SIPCW, Adrienne worked as Borough Manager for Staten Island Smoke-Free Partnership, Senior Program Analyst for NYCDOHMH, and Program Manager at Public Health Solutions. Adrienne holds a Master in Public Administration degree in Health Policy from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Reed College.

About Dr. James Fan

Dr. James Fan

Dr. James Fan, CEO & Co-founder at AI startup:

Dr. James Fan was a co-creator of Watson Question Answering System which beat the greatest human Jeopardy! players of all time. It was featured in The New York Times as one of the biggest AI success stories.

He is currently the CEO and co-founder of (an advanced artificial intelligence agent that can directly resolve customer issues in real time across multiple channels).

Dr. Fan has a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, and he is the author/co-author of more than 30 peer-reviewed papers.

About Lisa Colbert

Public Information Officer for Technology Investments and Ohio Third Frontier with the Ohio Development Services Agency.

She’s committed to telling the stories of the technologies, entrepreneurs, industries and companies that are bringing bus
ely qualified to translate tech and science to a broad range of audiences. She is a leader in content and graphic development, strategic branding and effectively communicating complex ideas across multiple platforms.

Lisa is excited to increase the visibility and reputation of Ohio as the destination for innovation and technology growth. She’s proud to be an Ohioan. Born and raised in Cleveland, Lisa graduated from Ohio University and lives with her husband and children in suburban Columbus.

Media Partner



Start Time

6:00 pm

December 7, 2017

Finish Time

8:00 pm

December 7, 2017


Infinito Galler, 79 Leonard Street, NY, NY