Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a multi-year grant for up to $87 million for the University of Kentucky (UK) to implement a new initiative called Kentucky CAN HEAL (Communities and Networks Helping to End Addiction Long-term). The project is part of a national effort with NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to reduce opioid overdose deaths by 40% over the next four years, through the new NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative and HEALing Communities Study.

NIH is awarding $350 million across four academic institutions including, UK, Boston Medical Center, Columbia University and Ohio State University, in partnership with NIDA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid crisis.

"This partnership between the NIH, NIDA and UK was sparked several years ago during the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit, when I invited Dr. Eli Capilouto to share his vision for this project with Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH and Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of NIDA," said Congressman Rogers, who also provided a letter of support for UK's grant application and helped secure federal funding for NIH through his senior role on the House Appropriations Committee. "I applaud UK for raising the bar and presenting an evidence-based strategic plan toward making marked improvements in our battle to save lives from the scourge of addiction. We are in a race against time to provide successful intervention and treatment options for individuals who are at-risk of overdosing." 

UK's work will extend to 16 counties in the Commonwealth, including four in Kentucky's Fifth Congressional District: Boyd, Carter, Floyd and Knox counties. The grant is the largest single competitive award that UK has ever received. 

“More than anyone, Congressman Hal Rogers sounded the warning call several years ago about the impending epidemic of opioid addiction. He saw it coming, before virtually anyone else, to the beloved hills and hollers of his home region. Once again, he set out – as he always has done – to uplift Appalachia, his state, and the country he has served for decades. Today, with his voice continuing to urge us forward, we mark a historic moment for UK – the University for Kentucky – and our partners across the state," said Eli Capilouto, President, University of Kentucky. "This investment – Kentucky CAN HEAL – offers the potential for lasting change for our Commonwealth. It is the opportunity to bring healing and hope along with lasting, sustainable solutions for communities that for too long have been ravaged by this epidemic. We all owe a debt to Congressman Rogers for sounding that alarm and persistently urging us ahead. Now, we must commit to making good on the promise of this partnership for all those we serve.”

More than 70,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In response to the nation's opioid crisis, the Kentucky CAN HEAL Initiative is a large-scale, community intervention project that will collaborate with treatment providers, criminal justice partners, harm-reduction providers, community coalitions and key government officials.

The first year of the study will focus on collecting data, assessing local needs, and determining the best prevention and treatment interventions to implement in each community through healthcare, behavioral health and justice systems. The HEALing Communities Study will generate important information to help communities enhance their strategic response to the opioid crisis and decrease overdoses. 

The four-year grant will allow UK to earn full funding each year as benchmarks are achieved.