University of Kentucky receives NIH grant to lead research on nation's opioid epidemic

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky has been awarded an $87 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The grant is the largest in the history of the state’s flagship university.


The grant will be a part of the HEALing (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Communities study.  The goal is the grant is to reduce opioid overdose deaths by 40 percent in 16 counties that represent more than one-third of the state’s population. Seven of the sixteen counties are in Appalachia Kentucky.  They include: Clark, Greenup, Carter, Boyd, Knox, Madison, and Floyd counties.

The University of Kentucky was one of four study sites selected by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, a part of the NIH.  The goal of the study is to develop evidence-based solutions to the opioid crisis and offer hope for individuals, families, and communities affected by the crisis. 

One of the seven goals outlined in SOAR’s Regional Blueprint for a 21st Century Appalachia is Healthy Communities.  Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR, said, “This type of grant speaks to the trust, the ability to convene, and collaborate spirit that is found not only at the University of Kentucky but throughout the Commonwealth. The opioid crisis is atop the list of challenges in many communities across the country, and I believe the collaborative approach being led by the University of Kentucky will bring greater attention to the crisis and the work of many organizations across the state to defeat this disease.”

Operation UNITE, a Blueprint Partner of SOAR, is the leading agency tackling addiction across Appalachia Kentucky.  UNITE works on many different fronts, including providing assistance to those in addiction, support services to families, and active county and school coalitions that promote education and programming on prevention.  Nancy Hale, UNITE’s president and CEO, is the chair of SOAR’s Healthy Communities committee.

To read more about the grant to the University of Kentucky, CLICK HERE.