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The North Carolina Collaboratory, headquartered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is funding five new research projects focused on community and local government engagement to assist opioid abatement and recovery efforts across the State.

Supported by a $1.9 million appropriation made by the North Carolina General Assembly, the projects will be led by academic researchers from five institutions across the UNC System. Each project will last for two years and focus on a topic related to preventing and addressing the misuse and abuse of opioids, treating or mitigating opioid use, or other consequences of the opioid crisis.

This appropriation is part of a $26 billion national opioid settlement that is being distributed to State and local governments across the country over the next 18 years. In addition to the $1.9 million for research projects, the Collaboratory also received $3.6 million from the North Carolina General Assembly to form strategic partnerships with experts specializing in different aspects of opioid research, including North Carolina Central University, UNC Injury Prevention Research Center, and UNC Eshelman Institute for Innovation.

As the opioid crisis continues to impact communities across the State, the active involvement of community organizations and local governments in research projects is key. By funding partnerships between academic researchers, governments, and community organizations, the Collaboratory hopes to support the translation of academic research into practical outputs that are useful to local governments and the communities they serve.

“The ability of the Collaboratory to address a broad range of state and local issues lies in our partnerships with experts in different fields and sectors. By developing funding opportunities that prioritize mutually beneficial engagement with people who are working with and experiencing the issue in question, we can ensure the outcomes of the research we fund have clear applications for real-world problems.”

Dr. Greer Arthur, NC Collaboratory Research Director

Funded Projects Summary
Academic Partner Total funding Project title and summary
Brook Alemu, Western Carolina University $369,909 Reducing the Burden of Opioid Use Disorder in North Carolina: Epidemiological Trends and Harm Reduction Strategies
By assessing epidemiological trends related to opioid use disorder, this project will evaluate the effectiveness of harm reduction strategies in seven rural and historically underserved counties in western regions of the state, with the goal of guiding state and local governments in the development and expansion of effective harm reduction methods.
Dasherline Johnson, NC Central University $380,000 Communiversity Developed and Tested Toolkit for Opioid Abuse Abatement
Through mutually respected partnerships between community organizations, community health workers and university faculty and staff, this project will develop and test an interactive toolkit for communities and local governments to address risk factors for opioid use and overdose, and enhance community education on resources for addressing addiction and preventing overdoses.
Melissa Floyd-Pickard, UNC Greensboro $379,330 GSCTOP: Expanding Novel Harm Reduction and Brief Interventions to Additional Vulnerable Populations in Guilford County
Building on a longstanding partnership between Guilford County and UNC Greensboro, this project will develop and implement an intervention for minoritized communities in high priority areas that will increase awareness and decrease later overdoses through psychoeducation, peer counseling, and safer use supplies such as fentanyl strips and naloxone training.
Nabarun Dasgupta, UNC-Chapel Hill $380,000 Monitoring the North Carolina Drug Supply for Timely Health Action
This project will use an existing, no-cost drug checking service to provide health departments, harm reduction programs and health clinics with timely data about illicit drug supplies via a statewide drug alert system, developed in collaboration with the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media.
William Atherton, East Carolina University $380,000 Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment for Early Recovery Opioid Use
This project will compare the impact of peer-delivered screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) with professionally delivered SBIRT in community organizations that serve historically marginalized populations, with the goal of developing best practices for use by community and local government organizations.

To date, the NC Collaboratory has supported more than 300 projects across all institutions within the UNC system and beyond to help address a spectrum of local and state issues, from environmental contaminants such as PFAS, to the impact of COVID-19 on student learning, to mosquito-borne diseases that disproportionately affect underserved communities in western regions of the state.

For more information about the national opioid settlement, visit:

For updates on funding opportunities, visit the Collaboratory’s Requests for Proposals webpage.

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