Fifteen new projects have been awarded funding through phase two of Indiana University’s Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge, and two of those projects are from Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health – Indianapolis researchers.
Dr. Xin Li, visiting assistant professor of epidemiology, received funding for “Vitamin D and Opioid Use: From Real-World Data to Clinical Practice,” and professor, Mr. Ross Silverman, health policy and management professor, for the Indiana Addictions Law and Policy Surveillance Project.
These projects will continue to represent the innovative, cross-disciplinary work that is the hallmark of IU’s Grand Challenge initiatives. Responding to the Addictions Crisis — the third of IU’s Grand Challenge initiatives — was announced in October 2017. Sixteen projects were undertaken in phase one of the initiative, with many of them already reporting results.
“Phase two of this Grand Challenge will further inform and implement strategies to help the countless families, employees and businesses suffering as a result of the addictions crisis,” said Dr. Faith Kirkham Hawkins, associate vice president for strategic research initiatives at IU. “IU will continue forging this path the only way we can be successful: working together with state and local government, business and nonprofit leaders serving on the front lines.”
In the spring of 2018, a team of IU researchers, including professor, Mr. Ross Silverman, published their findings on legal and policy best practices in response to the opioid epidemic. They called for broader and more robust harm-reduction strategies, programs to reduce the stigma of substance use disorder, the creation of broader drug take-back programs, and more expansive “wraparound services” such as job training or housing assistance to support those recovering from substance use disorder.
The researchers’ recommendations offered local, state and federal governments an array of strategies for mitigating the opioid addictions crisis, and drew insights from interviews with key stakeholders of community agencies, the health care industry, law enforcement, court officials and government leaders, among others.
Most recently, as part of the Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge, the university hosted the Indiana Public Health Conference. Hosted in part by the Fairbanks School of Public Health’s Center for Public Health Practice, this conference provided a forum for people from diverse perspectives to address Indiana’s most pressing public health issues related to harm reduction and reducing negative consequences associated with drug use.
Phase one of the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge also included funding for implementation of a web-based learning hub that empowers local clinicians with expert medical education to help meet the need for diagnosis, treatment and extended care for patients throughout the state. The hub, now the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health ECHO Center, currently hosts two ECHO programs, Hepatitis C (HPV) ECHO and LGBTQ+ ECHO. Several new ECHO projects are scheduled to launch this year.