Grand Challenges initiatives providing useful tools for Hoosier communities

Environmental Resilience Institute Toolkit available

In 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the Climate Change Adaptation Resource Center, an interactive resource to help local governments effectively deliver services to their communities as the climate changes.

In 2018, the Environmental Resilience Institute, funded by the Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge, modified the tool to address Midwest and Indiana issues specifically. Called the Environmental Resilience Institute Toolkit -- or ERIT -- the online resource center is available to decision-makers in municipalities, cities and counties. It delivers preparedness strategies, tools, trainings, funding opportunities, scientific information and case studies illustrating how other communities have successfully adapted to climate change risks -- all intended to help communities prepare for environmental change. The online tool is unique among resource aggregation sites because it focuses on the Midwest and on small- and mid-sized towns.

In September, IU launched this tool at the Earth Charter Indiana Climate Leadership Summit in Indianapolis, an annual statewide conference specially designed for mayors, city leaders and community partners to discuss how to prepare for the changing climate. It was attended by the EPA's Joel Scheraga, senior advisor for climate adaptation. Scheraga developed the EPA tool on which the Environmental Resilience Institute Toolkit is based.

Naloxone giveaway planned

Amid the epidemic of opioid drug abuse, another drug can save lives: naloxone. As the National Institutes of Health's National Drug Institute on Drug Abuse puts it, "Naloxone can quickly restore normal breathing and save the life of a person who is overdosing on opioids. … Friends, family and other bystanders can save lives."

Hands hold Naloxone View print quality image
A public event to distribute up to 1,000 naloxone kits and provide training is scheduled for Sept. 28.

In April, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a call for more people to be ready to administer naloxone. In his advisory, Adams wrote that he is "emphasizing the importance of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone."

"For patients currently taking high doses of opioids as prescribed for pain, individuals misusing prescription opioids, individuals using illicit opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, health care practitioners, family and friends of people who have an opioid use disorder, and community members who come into contact with people at risk for opioid overdose, knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life," he said.

Overdose Lifeline -- a statewide nonprofit addressing the opioid public health crisis -- IU Health and IU's Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge team are answering the surgeon general's call with a public event to distribute up to 1,000 naloxone kits and provide training to those who receive them. This distribution and training are especially urgent in Indiana, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists among states with the highest increase in opioid deaths -- a 28 percent increase from 2016 to 2017.

The event will be hosted on the IUPUI campus on Sept. 28. IU Health pharmacy staff will distribute the kits, and IU Health and Overdose Lifeline volunteers will offer training. Additional partners include the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration and the Indianapolis Public Library. The event will also include a public forum for students and residents to learn more about the opioid crisis, with the goal of reducing stigmas associated with addiction.

Precision Health Initiative needs you

Health research studies and clinical trials rely on volunteers, because medicine can't advance without testing and evaluating new treatments to see if they are both safe and effective. Only about 30 percent of Hoosiers report involvement in a research study or knowing someone who has participated in a research study.

IU's Precision Health Initiative Grand Challenge is working closely with All IN for Health, a program dedicated to improving the health of Indiana by connecting Hoosiers to health resources and to opportunities to participate in health research and clinical trials. Having data about the health of Hoosiers will help guide efforts by researchers and practitioners to understand and deliver treatments that meet the specific needs of Indiana residents.

Anyone interested in getting involved is encouraged to visit the All IN for Health website. Visitors can participate in surveys and sign up to volunteer for research studies, such as participating in a clinical trial. The site also connects visitors with health resources available in Indiana and around the United States and offers health information through its blog.

The program is made possible by the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, which combines the expertise of Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame.