IU researchers land $5M grant to combat opioid crisis

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Researchers from Indiana University have been awarded a five-year, $5.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help reduce opioid deaths in Indiana. IU says its researchers will work with overdose fatality review teams in 19 counties to measure and improve the effectiveness of harm reduction practices.

IU says the research will provide current data that will help improve resources and services for people to stay as healthy as possible.

“We are in an overdose crisis, with hundreds of overdose events regularly occurring in Indiana, and many Hoosiers are dying,” said Matthew Aalsma, professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine and project co-leader. “We want to be as agile and nimble as possible in targeting public health interventions in communities across the state. Timely data can improve local interventions, which we believe will be helpful for prevention of overdose.”

According to the university, overdose fatality review teams review the factors that may contribute to a person’s death from overdose and then use the information to inform policies, procedures and interventions.

“The overdose crisis continues to be a pressing public health issue in Indiana,” said Douglas Huntsinger, Indiana executive director for drug prevention, treatment and enforcement and chair of the Indiana Commission to Combat Substance Use Disorder. “Overdose fatality review teams combine the local expertise necessary to prevent overdose with a community-level perspective, and we rely upon their recommendations as a key component of Indiana’s strategy to reduce the fatal impact of substance use in our communities.”

The researchers will also use data from state partners, including the Indiana Department of Health, and will work with county-based overdose fatality review teams.

“Indiana has made really good investments and progress in doing data integration across the state, and we will put the data into action and use it to discover how we can prevent overdose deaths and improve the lives of Hoosiers,” said Khairi Reda, associate professor in the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI and a leader on the project. “Our dashboards will help overdose fatality review teams dig into the data to determine if there are appropriate circumstances where care can be provided and then implemented to contribute to lowering overdose deaths in Indiana.”

The grant is part of the NIH’s HEAL Data2Action Initiative, which is an effort to quickly address the national opioid public health crisis with scientific solutions.

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