14:19 PM

Ohio State announces grant funding for research into opioid addiction

The Ohio State University announced the winners of more than $1 million in grants to fuel research to help combat the opioid epidemic.

“In public health, we never do our work alone and today, more than ever, we need to work together,” College of Public Health Dean William Martin said at a press conference Thursday at the James Cancer Hospital.

In 2017, Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron announced a commitment of more than $1 million to the Opioid Innovation Fund to advance understanding of the crisis and inspire new, multidisciplinary partnerships that address the epidemic.

Eight teams were awarded grants ranging from $100,000 to $45,000. The projects include a $96,762 implementation grant to develop the Franklin County Opioid Crisis Activities Levels Map to develop a system to track and map, on a daily basis, data on opiate overdoses from the 22 emergency medical services organizations in Franklin County. The data will be used to help connect communities in greatest need to resources to combat overdoses.

“It will be more than just a dashboard. It will be a way to address research questions and policy questions and provide data in a way that Columbus Public Health or other community organizations can use right away to make better decisions, to make faster decisions and to save more lives,” said Ayaz Hyder, assistant professor, environmental health sciences and one of the researchers for the FOCAL map project.

Another grant of $45,541 will fund development of a community and social network-based campaign to reduce opioid-related stigma and overdose. The campaign will educate people who use drugs, their friends and family, and broader community about the opioid overdose reversal medication Naloxone, and how to recognize and respond to an overdose.

Martin was joined by Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, in the announcement of the awards. He also participated in a roundtable discussion with researchers and other community experts to discuss solutions to the opioid epidemic.

“I'm very impressed and gratified to see the kind of creativity and energy and resources that are being put into this. And we at NIH aim to try to be the best possible partner we can offer those efforts,” he said.

Collins said an apparent federal budget agreement will likely mean more funding for addiction research and treatment. He said universities like Ohio State will be critical to helping communities solve the addiction crisis.

“There is $500 million for this current fiscal year, on top of what we've already been doing. That is specifically targeted to increase our ability to do research in this space,” Collins said “And we at NIH are prepared to figure out ways to inspire all of those investigators all over the country to come forward with their best ideas about how this could be most appropriately allocated to make progress in this space.”

Martin said the awards announced today were just the start of a university effort to reduce the burden of the opioid crisis.

“This obviously is a moment for us not only to celebrate the awards today, but also to underscore the breadth of the opportunities and the breadth of a land grant university to solve the problems in our communities,” he said. “This is not going to be done in isolation. It is done together with the communities that we serve.”

Click to download details on the grant recipients: Opioid Innovation Fund