Toban Shadlyn


2019 - Ongoing
Rhode Island

mainstay RI is a small thinktank and advocacy group working to redesign the environments of care for people impacted by the overdose crisis. A collaboration between designers, health care professionals, and non-profit workers, we conduct research, provide educational training, design interventions, and partner with local community organizations to support their work.

Participated and won 1st place at the 2019 COBRE on Opioids and Overdose Hackathon

About mainstay RI
mainstay RI was conceived at a 2019 hackathon run by the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) on Opioids and Overdose at Rhode Island Hospital (funded by the NIH).

As the winning proposal, the core idea behind mainstay is to create a “soft and slow” environment for people who have recently woken up from a drug overdose. Currently, many people wake up from an overdose in the Emergency Department – an environment never initially designed to treat such cases. This care intervention places the agency of people who use drugs as its first priority and attempts to create an environment where care workers and peers can enable people to define and follow their own path to better outcomes.

mainstay RI website

Funded by the COBRE, the team has conducted research on the design of care spaces, harm reduction practices within and beyond care settings, and collaborative interdisciplinary research methods. 

An IRB research study to explore notions of care from the perspective of people who have experienced an overdose and people who have delivered care. Image: Interview research recruitment posters. 

Visuals of research questions used in conversations with different stakeholders (policy makers, health care professionals, community groups).  

A prototype of a conversation tool to learn about peoples experience in different care settings.  

Design Research Society Conference
In June 2022, the mainstay RI team presented our work at the Design Research Society Conference in Bilbao Spain. We facilitated a conversation – A Marriage in Practice: The role of design research in the world of medical science – with conference attendees who have been attempting to forge this marriage between design and healthcare practices.

Our transdisciplinary team's experience blending design and medical research to address the American opioid crisis served as a springboard to a more general exchange, surfacing better practices for deeper collaboration between scientists and designers. 

︎︎︎Read the conversation paper  

Design Research Society Conference, Bilbao Spain. Facilitating a conversation about the challenges and opportunities in transdisciplinary collaborations between design and medical science.

Symposium on Substance Use Research
In November 2020, the mainstay, RI team presented virtually at the Symposium on Substance Use Research hosted by the Rural Drug Addiction Research (RDAR) COBRE, the COBRE on Opioids and Overdose, and the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute (WVCTSI).