Community crisis, community response: the Opioid Collaboratory

Researchers and community members discuss data solutions to the opioid crisis

June 13, 2019

Nearly 100 people gathered at Regenstrief Institute to swap ideas and discuss how to put data to use to solve the growing opioid crisis. Regenstrief leaders also announced a pilot grant program, soliciting ideas to link and utilize the data available through the Indiana Addiction Data Commons (IADC).

The event, called the Opioid Collaboratory, organized by Chris Harle, PhD, M.S., a Regenstrief research scientist, and IADC Program Manager Dan Hood, MPH, included researchers, healthcare providers, health systems leaders, state health leaders and more. In addition to his affiliation with Regenstrief, Dr. Harle is on faculty at Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health and the IU School of Medicine.

Dr. Embi addresses opioid collaboratory

Regenstrief President and CEO Peter Embí, M.D., M.S., kicked off the meeting, extolling the benefits of partnerships and collaborations to identify solutions to the opioid crisis. He spoke about the importance of bringing datasets together and using them in applied research efforts. His goal is to use the information to rapidly advance research and implement solutions that have impactful results.

Jim McClelland, the executive director for drug prevention, treatment, and enforcement for the State of Indiana also addressed the group. He presented the latest information on Indiana’s efforts to curb the crisis and save the lives of Hoosiers. McClelland spoke about the need for holistic strategies to combat the addiction crisis and the necessity of increasing emphasis on social determinants of health.

Opioid collaboratory participants also got the chance to learn about the specific data available to them through the IADC. The IADC is a collaboration among Regenstrief, the Polis Center, the State Management Performance Hub (MPH) and other organizations, funded by the Indiana University Addictions Grand Challenge. The data commons combines clinical data with information on social determinants of health, such as education and nutrition, offering a framework to expand opioid-related research.

The conference attendees then broke into small groups, where they discussed possible applications of the available data. Ideas included determining risk factors for the stages of opioid use disorder, barriers to successfully completing treatment and the role of mental health. Another suggestion involved using Regenstrief’s nDepth tool to comb through unstructured data, the doctors’ notes in health records, to uncover data that might not be available elsewhere.

The IADC team will use these recommendations to inform its work going forward.

September 15, 2017

Welcome to the Opioid Collaboratory

In answer to the call to address the opioid abuse and addiction crisis that Indiana is currently facing, we have come together to form the Opioid Collaboratory in partnership with Purdue University, Indiana CTSI, and the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering. We are joined by leaders from the academic, clinical, and nonprofit communities, and partnering with local, state, and federal government leaders to share and develop evidence-based responses and policies. The Collaboratory’s focus is on data collection and analysis, and translating discoveries into real solutions to combat this crisis.

We welcome your contribution to this community. To join, please contact us, selecting the “Opioid Collaboratory” subject line. You will be added to our listserv and will have access to our collaborative workspace.

For those who have already joined, you may access the Opioid Collaboratory workspace by clicking the button below

Opioid collaboratory workspace on slack

July 13, 2017

The headlines are heartbreaking, the latest statistics alarming.

91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, and the number of lives lost from overdose of prescription opioids and heroin has quadrupled between 2000 and 2015 [1]. In recent years, the sharp increase in the prescription of these pain medications has shown to be associated with an increase in heroin use [2], and there is little evidence of any significant change in the overall pain experienced by patients [1].

Globally, it is estimated that between 26.4 and 36 million people currently suffer from substance abuse disorders stemming from prescription opioid pain relievers [3]. The consequences of this growing public health crisis are devastating, and they happen close to home in our Indiana communities. In 2015, the small town of Austin in Scott County, Indiana, became the site of one of the largest HIV outbreaks in decades due to the high prevalence of needle sharing to inject a powerful opioid painkiller [4], and the state’s emergency rooms handle more than 400 overdose cases every week according to the Indiana State Department of Health [5].

The Regenstrief Institute is proud to join a community of organizations committed to helping end the opioid epidemic, and that effort begins right here at home. In July 2017, we hosted a kickoff meeting for an opioid meeting shot1task force collaboratory, bringing together the academic, clinical and non-profit community as well as leaders in the local, state and federal government to discuss the current clinical and research efforts to address the use and/or abuse of opioids. We are currently working with these partners, combining our efforts and expertise to evaluate and implement evidence-based policy to aid those suffering from addiction, prevent substance abuse disorders, and save lives. For more information or to find out how to join this effort, please contact us with the subject line “opioid collaboratory.”

[1] Understanding the Epidemic. (2016, December 16). Retrieved from
[2] Muhuri, P. K., Gfroerer, J. C., & Davies, M. (n.d.). Associations of Nonmedical Pain Reliever Use and Initiation of Heroin Use in the United States. Retrieved from
[3] Valkow, N. D., M.D. (2014, May 14). America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse. Retrieved from
[4] NPR Staff. (2016, March 31). Inside A Small Brick House At The Heart Of Indiana’s Opioid Crisis. Retrieved from
[5] Rudavsky, S. (2017, May 18). ‘The crisis we’re currently facing’: How Indiana plans to fight opiate scourge. Retrieved from

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