Wright State University is among a group of Ohio universities to receive federal funding in an effort to reduce the rate of drug overdose deaths.

The WSU money will be part of a $65.9 million grant to Ohio research universities funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the National Institutes of Health's HEALing Communities Study. The goal is to "reduce overdose deaths by 40 percent over three years in selected communities by testing a set of proven prevention and treatment interventions," a release states.

The award constitutes a partnership between Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, University of Cincinnati and RecoveryOhio as well as additional universities and community organizations in 19 counties across Ohio.

The award was announced by U.S. Sens Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). The first installment of $13.2 million was granted this week.

In addition to Ohio universities, others in Kentucky, Massachusetts and New York will be awarded federal funds to implement and evaluate intervention approaches via the HEALing Communities Study. The states include counties with some of the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths. 

Ohio is among the top five states with the highest rates of opioid-related overdose deaths. In 2017, 4,293 Ohioans died from opioid-related overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate of 39.2 deaths per 100,000 people was second only to West Virginia.

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