HEALING BEGINS Here

In a country in the throes of an epidemic, few places have been more ravaged by opioids than Kentucky.

More than 47,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2017 and more than 2 million citizens in this country have opioid use disorders. Life expectancy in this country has dropped – driven, in large measure, by deaths from drug overdoses.

Kentucky, in many respects, is at the epicenter of the crisis:


Our state is among the Top 10 in the country in deaths from opioid addiction.

More than 1,100 people died from opioid overdoses in the Commonwealth in 2017.

A consequence of this epidemic includes dramatic increases in the incidence rates of other diseases, from Hepatitis to HIV.

Not only are these staggering figures likely underestimated, they also fail to capture the full extent of the damage of the opioid crisis, which reaches across every domain of family and community life—from lost productivity and economic opportunity, to intergenerational and childhood trauma, to extreme strain on community resources, including first responders, emergency rooms, hospitals and treatment centers.

However, we believe Kentucky can turn the tide on this scourge.

In the largest research grant ever received by the University of Kentucky, researchers from UK spanning six colleges, in partnership with state leaders, will launch a project through the NIH’s HEALing (Helping End Addiction Long Term) Communities Study, a four-year, $87 million study aimed at reducing opioid overdose deaths by 40 percent.

Already on the front lines in researching and combating opioid abuse, the HEALing Communities Study places UK squarely among the country’s leaders in finding long-term, sustainable solutions to this epidemic.

As one of four sites nationwide, UK and the Commonwealth of Kentucky will address the opioid epidemic in a randomized study that includes 16 Kentucky counties acutely impacted by opioid abuse. The study will leverage existing resources and initiatives, in partnership with communities, to implement strategies and set evidence-based standards that will become a national model for fighting the opioid epidemic.

The idea and hope is what works in these communities can be scaled and replicated across the state and country. It is premised on the profoundly powerful idea that communities and a state working together, harnessing the intellectual talent and dogged determination of a flagship research university, can transform lives and communities across the state and the country.

OUR TEAM

Dr. Sharon Walsh
College of Medicine
Dr. Heather Bush
Dr. Heather Bush
College of Public Health
Dr. Amanda Fallin-Bennett
Dr. Amanda Fallin-Bennett
College of Nursing
Dr. Laura Fanucchi
Dr. Laura Fanucchi
College of Medicine
Dr. Patricia Freeman
College of Pharmacy
Dr. Jennifer Havens
Dr. Jennifer Havens
College of Medicine
Dr. Donald Helme
Dr. Donald Helme
College of Communication and Information
Dr. Hannah Knudsen
Dr. Hannah Knudsen
College of Medicine
Dr. Michelle Lofwall
Dr. Michelle Lofwall
College of Medicine
Dr. Katherine Marks
College of Medicine
Dr. Devin Oller
Dr. Devin Oller
College of Medicine
Dr. Carrie Oser
Dr. Carrie Oser
College of Arts and Sciences
Dr. Svetla Slavova
College of Public Health
Dr. Michele Staton
Dr. Michele Staton
College of Medicine
Dr. Hilary Surratt
Dr. Hilary Surratt
College of Medicine
Dr. Jeffrey Talbert
Dr. Jeffery Talbert
College of Pharmacy
Katherine Thompson
Dr. Katherine Thompson
College of Arts and Sciences
Dr. Philip Westgate
College of Public Health
Dr. April Young
College of Public Health

Learn more about opportunities to be part of the HEALing Communities study team; see what role you can play in reducing overdose rates in the Commonwealth.

Join the Team

 

Dr. Eli Capilouto

President, University of Kentucky

What is possible?

That is the question we ask every day at the University of Kentucky.

It underscores the power behind the Kentucky CAN HEAL grant. It’s a historic, more than $87 million investment in the University of Kentucky over the next four years.

The collective energy, talent, and efforts of Kentucky’s flagship and land-grant research university – in partnership with the Commonwealth we have served for more than 150 years – are being marshaled to combat one of our country’s greatest challenges: the destruction wrought by opioid use disorder, addiction, and death.

Kentuckians know the insidiousness of this disease better than most.

The opioid epidemic does not discriminate by zip code, race, income, or any other demographic characteristic. It is not a character or moral failing, but an illness. It's unforgiving. It touches us all.

We all know someone – a member of our family, a loved one, a lifelong friend, or classmate – whose life has been touched and damaged by this illness. They are us.

But there is hope.
There is us.

Read Full Letter

UK, Kentucky Awarded $87 Million reduce overdose deaths

group of researchers standing on steps

With an award from the National Institutes of Health — and in partnership with both the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet — researchers from UK will lead a project as part of the HEALing Communities Study. Their goal? To reduce rates of overdose death by 40 percent.