IU's Grand Challenge

Responding to the Addictions Crisis

In October 2017, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie, alongside Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb and IU Health CEO Dennis Murphy, announced IU's commitment to invest $50 million to prevent and reduce addictions in Indiana. The Responding to the Addictions Crisis initiative is part of IU's bicentennial Grand Challenges Program.

This ambitious program has three primary goals:

  • Reduce the incidence of Substance Use Disorder,
  • Decrease the number of opioid overdose fatalities, and
  • Reduce the number of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

Leveraging the strengths of IU's seven campuses, and in partnership with state officials, IU Health, Eskenazi Health, and others, this statewide initiative is one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive state-based responses to the opioid addiction crisis — and the largest led by a university. The interdisciplinary team of researchers participating in this multifaceted effort is led by IU School of Nursing Dean Robin Newhouse.

Governor Holcomb has made tackling the opioid crisis one of his highest priorities and has called on all Hoosiers to collaborate to reduce the drug scourge. This Grand Challenge initiative is IU's response to this charge, affirming the university's mission as a partner to Hoosier communities.

"Indiana University’s Grand Challenge is going to go such a long way to help turn the tide of this crisis of addiction. It’s going to give more hope to the far too many hopeless."

—Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb speaking at a podium.

World-class research

Recognizing that addiction is a disease, we’ll seek to uncover the interwoven forces—both biological and environmental—that drive substance use disorders.

Community engagement and workforce development

We can’t put an end to this crisis alone. Working together with partners in communities across the state, we will create and implement innovative approaches to fight addiction and mitigate its devastating consequences. The result will be a healthier Hoosier workforce, economy and state.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie  speaking at a podium.

"Through this vitally important initiative, Indiana University will bring to bear its formidable and extensive clinical and research capabilities, large statewide footprint in medicine and health care, and powerful community and industry partnerships to achieve maximum impact toward the goal of more effectively treating patients and implementing preventative substance abuse programs."

--IU President Michael A. McRobbie

Moving forward

More than 30 projects are underway as part of IU’s Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge. The projects range from hosting public forums focused on reducing stigma to expanded recovery programs to published reports on legal and policy best practices for responding to the opioid epidemic. Additional topics include how opioid addictions are impacting the labor market and a study of how a more effective version of naloxone might be created. All of the projects represent the innovative, cross-disciplinary work that is the hallmark of IU’s Grand Challenges program.

As the Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge sets a pace for research activity that understands lives are on the line, this Grand Challenge is bringing together state and local government as well as business and nonprofit leaders to advance strategies that are helping the countless individuals, families, employees, and businesses suffering as a result of the addictions crisis.