Teaming for Interdisciplinary Research Pre-Seed Program

UGA Opioid Initiative

UGA Opioid Initiative

UGA Opioid Initiative

In 2018, nearly 50,000 people died from the opioid epidemic in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Another 2.1 million people in the United States suffer from opioid use disorder (OUD), according to the CDC’s 2016 figures. As shocking and tragic as those statistics are, they significantly understate the impact of this crisis, which affects all aspects of society: schools, hospitals, prisons, workplaces, and homes. Given the University of Georgia’s land- and sea-grant public service mission, there is a civic imperative to convene an interdisciplinary team of researchers who are conducting research on the opioids epidemic and to develop insights, strategies, and best practices to address it within the state of Georgia and beyond.

This group originated in October 2018 around a UGA Interdisciplinary Opioid Epidemic Symposium, convened by the School of Law. The day-long Symposium included presentations by faculty researchers across campus; external speakers from the CDC, regional health systems, and the media; poster sessions by graduate students; and networking opportunities. The synergies launched by that event led to the current working group of full-time UGA faculty opioids researchers.

The goal for this group is to promote multidisciplinary, collaborative research that will inform effective and sustainable OUD prevention and treatment programs across the lifespan and provide support for individuals and communities affected by the incidence of OUD. All of the scholars included in this group already have engaged in substantial, diverse opioids-related research, which methodologies and findings are scalable to serve other geographic and demographic groups. The group has broad interdisciplinary representation, including Law (Team Leader), Public Health, Social Work, Pharmacy, Sociology, and Education/Counseling Psychology. Team members worked in counties across the State of Georgia and have engaged UGA Public Service and Outreach (PSO) units, graduate and professional students, and community stakeholders and providers in their research. Further research among team members will lay the foundation for policy briefs, white papers, and scholarly articles that will inform policymakers, health care providers, and other key stakeholders. Through these efforts, we aim to address the opioid epidemic that plagues our state and our nation.

Team Lead

Elizabeth Weeks
School of Law

Team Members

Lydia Aletraris
Department of Sociology

Rachel Annette Fusco
School of Social Work

Bernadette Davantes Heckman
College of Education

Jayani Jayawardhana
College of Pharmacy

Toni Miles
College of Public Health

Fazal Khan
School of Law

Orion Mowbray
School of Social Work