Community-Academic Partnership for Substance Abuse in East Texas


With funding from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the Community-Academic Partnership for Substance Abuse in East Texas (CAPSA-ET) was launched in January 2020. The partnership is a collaboration between The University of Texas at Tyler Health Science Center (HSC) and the East Texas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ETCADA). We will also work closely with other community partner agencies including Cenikor Foundation, Partners in Prevention, United Way, the Smith County Behavioral Health Leadership Team (BHLT), Next Steps for Community Solutions, law enforcement and criminal justice departments, school districts and several other stakeholders and community members who are interested in addressing Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) in East Texas.

Yordi Tiruneh, MPhil, PhD, assistant professor of community health, is the project lead; and Linda Oyer, RN, MBA, CEO of ETCADA, is the lead community partner. Emmanuel Elueze, MD, and Vanessa Casanova, PhD, are clinical and academic collaborators serving as subject matter experts and faculty trainers, along with other researchers/faculty at HSC. For more information about the project, please contact Dr. Tiruneh via email .


Our goal is to build a research infrastructure to build stakeholders’ capacity to conduct and effectively collaborate in pursuing research on SUD, facilitate the adoption of evidence-based interventions, obtain relevant data, and eventually improve life circumstances for SUD victims in rural communities of Northeast Texas. To achieve this goal, we will:

  1. Establish a governing structure comprising academics, clinicians, SUD victims, their families, and community-based organizations (CBOs) to guide and oversee the community-academic partnership.
  2. Develop curricula and train community stakeholders in basic research and effective collaboration.
  3. Identify and prioritize a research agenda related to SUD.
  4. Develop sustainable infrastructure to facilitate ongoing interaction and engagement.


CAPSA-ET will bring all relevant community partners together through a series of planned activities and roles that include serving on the steering committee; participating in workshops, research training, focus group discussions, stakeholders’ socials and community forums; and engaging with the online platform. The steering committee, composed of various stakeholder groups, is the governing body of CAPSA-ET, overseeing the planning and execution of project activities.

Projected Outcomes

This award will support the creation of sustainable research infrastructure enabling stakeholders to network, capture relevant data, and spawn research on SUDs in East Texas. The project will result in knowledgeable and skilled community partners, a research agenda on SUD based on a shared decision-making process and sustainable relationships between community stakeholders.

Project Team

  • Yordanos Tiruneh, Project Leader
  • Linda Oyer, Lead Community Partner
  • Emmanuel Elueze, Clinician Collaborator
  • Vanessa Casanova, Academic Collaborator
  • Nathan Olsen, Project Coordinator
  • Ariba Siddiqui, Project Assistant
  • Sharon Newbill, Collaborator/Consultant