Fellow Profile

Fellow

Eric Harkness

Eric-Harkness

Focus Area: Addiction & Overdose

Tennessee Department of Health

Nashville, TN

Fellow

Eric Harkness

As the director of the Office of Health Policy, Eric leads a team that conducts research and evidence, reviews and facilitates a collaborative process for expertise and policy development, and helps craft key messages and policy positions. The office plays a key role in the department’s response to the opioid epidemic. Eric also serves on the Opioid Mission Control Group, which provides direction and coordination to the diverse actions and strategies.

The Tennessee Department of Health's mission is to "Protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee."  One of the biggest challenges the state is facing is the battle with the opioid epidemic. As part of Central Appalachia, Tennessee is a “ground zero” for this epidemic. In 2016, the number of overdose deaths in Tennessee reached a new high of 1,631. Tennessee's response is deliberate and robust, and the department is working with many partners across many sectors on a public health approach that includes: prevention through education; data collection, regulation and enforcement, and partnership.