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Latest round of Opioid Innovation Fund grants will bring more resources to Ohio communities

In its second annual round of funding, Ohio State’s Opioid Innovation Fund has awarded eight multidisciplinary teams a total of nearly $500,000 for prevention, treatment and recovery projects designed to mitigate the crisis racking Ohio and the nation.

The two largest grants, $100,000 each, reflect the diversity of the proposals. One will review five years of death records to identify characteristics that mark certain populations as having a heightened risk of dying from drug overdose. The other proposal supports young children of opioid users through a reading intervention program.

Researchers involved in the project to identify at-risk populations will work with counties in northeast Ohio to coordinate community response plans to prevent opioid deaths. “By using traditional public health data in innovative ways, the project will help community organizations to align strategies and rapidly respond to risk,” said Andrew Wapner, the director of the Center for Public Health Practice and the leader of the research team.

The reading intervention program will support young children who are now being cared for by grandparents, family, friends or neighbors.

“Doing this work through a partnership with OIF provides many supports to facilitate the success of our project and ensure that the intervention, if proven efficacious, can be rolled out to families at the local and national level,” said Kelly Boone, who leads the reading intervention study and serves as associate director of research at the Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy.

The six other winning proposals in this year’s round of funding were each awarded grants of approximately $50,000. The projects will:

  • Develop easy screening tools to identify infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome so they can be quickly referred to developmental specialists. NAS is a group of withdrawal problems experienced by newborns exposed to narcotics in the womb.
  • Investigate the effects and potential risks of drug interactions that can result when patients being treated with medications for opioid use are also taking prescriptions to treat chronic health conditions.
  • Study whether families would be more likely to get rid of leftover opioids prescribed to their children if provided with a drug-disposal bag.
  • Develop a curriculum to foster greater empathy in emergency department physicians who treat patients at risk for opioid abuse.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of Sudarshan Kriya yoga — a type of cyclical controlled breathing practice — as a supplemental intervention for people who experience psychological disorders and are being treated with medications for opioid use.
  • Investigate whether financial coaching for recovering opioid users can reduce risks that can lead to discontinuing treatment and relapse.

Click here for more details about the winning proposals.

“Because of the scope of the university’s disciplines and resources, and because of the partnerships we’ve formed over the years throughout the state, we are well suited to attack the many problems associated with addiction,” said William J. Martin, dean of the College of Public Health, which administers the fund. “The Opioid Innovation Fund connects creative minds to help us do that and squarely aligns with our land grant mission.”

Created by Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron in October 2017, the fund has distributed nearly $1 million to 16 teams over two rounds. Projects serve one of two goals: to develop products that community partners can use right away or to answer research questions that inform the scientific community, practitioners and policymakers.

According to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4,293 Ohioans died from opioid-related overdoses in 2017. That breaks down to 39.2 opioid-related overdose deaths per 100,000 people, a rate that is second only to West Virginia.

The Wexner Medical Center, Ohio State Extension and colleges throughout the university are all involved in addressing the substance abuse and the opioid crisis.

Last month, the National Institutes of Health awarded a $65.9 million grant to Ohio State to lead a statewide consortium charged with reducing opioid overdose deaths by 40% over three years. The award for HEALing Communities Study is the university’s largest research grant ever.