Pilot Grants Expand Substance Use Research Opportunities

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 11, 2021) — New pilot grants at the University of Kentucky are supporting innovative research to further understand causes and treatments of substance use disorders.

Since they were launched last year, UK’s Substance Use Research Priority Area pilot grants have already assisted 16 faculty and student researchers. Their projects support the area's mission to prevent and reduce the burdens of substance use disorders through conducting and translating transdisciplinary and innovative research to inform clinical services, public health practice and policy.

“We have several SUPRA pilot grant mechanisms that are affording opportunities for more undergraduate and graduate students to get involved in substance use research,” said Carrie Oser, professor of sociology in the UK College of Arts and Sciences, who oversaw the pilot grant programming. “It’s crucial to provide funding for preliminary data that can be used to strengthen external grant applications.”

The awards fund substance use research led by UK faculty and students from basic science, pre-clinical, clinical or community research perspectives. The second round of funding awarded this summer included five graduate-professional student awards and three faculty awards, totaling $174,000.

One of the faculty grants was awarded in partnership with UK’s UNited In True racial Equity Research Priority Area. The selected project aligned with UNITE’s mission to support research on racial disparities, racial health equity, social and racial justice.

Led by T.K. Logan, professor in the UK College of Medicine’s Department of Behavioral Science, the project will explore the impact of COVID-related stressors, substance use, and firearm-related risks among Black, Hispanic and white young adults.

SUPRA recently released two new pilot grants aimed at postdoctoral scholars/fellows and faculty who are new to substance use research, with applications due Sept. 20.

The UK Research Priorities Initiative, funded by the Office of the Vice President for Research, encompasses seven priority areas: cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes & obesity, diversity & inclusion, energy, neuroscience and substance use disorder. These areas were chosen based on local relevance, existing funding strength, sustainability and disciplinary scholarly diversity. Learn more at www.research.uky.edu/research-priorities-initiative.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.