CDC awards $2M opioid research grant to UNC Injury Prevention Research Center

October 2, 2018

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded a three-year, $2 million research grant to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC). The funding, from the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, will support research on primary and secondary prevention of opioid overdose.

Dr. Shabbar Ranapurwala

Dr. Shabbar Ranapurwala

Shabbar I. Ranapurwala, PhD, a core faculty member at the UNC IPRC and assistant professor of epidemiology at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, will lead the study.

The award announcement was made Oct. 2 by Congressional Representative David Price (NC-04), a senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee and ranking member of the appropriations subcommittee on transportation, housing and urban development appropriations subcommittee.

The study will evaluate the portion of North Carolina’s landmark Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act (PDF) that mandates the use of CDC’s opioid-prescribing guidelines for patients with acute and post-surgical pain, complementing ongoing efforts to tackle the crisis by Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina state health officials.

“UNC-Chapel Hill’s Injury Prevention Research Center has always been at the forefront of the injury and violence prevention efforts in North Carolina,” said Rep. Price. “This grant will support and enhance our state’s critical efforts in preventing harmful effects of opioids and will ensure that patients requiring pain management treatment will receive the necessary care.”

The CDC issued opioid prescribing guidelines for pain patients in 2016. One of those guidelines, included in the STOP Act and made effective in North Carolina  Jan. 1, 2018, was the limiting of the first opioid prescription for acute pain to a five-days’ supply and limiting of the first prescription for post-surgical pain at seven days. Subsequent prescriptions were not capped.

“This grant,” Ranapurwala said, “will allow us to examine the impact of this mandate on physicians’ prescribing behaviors and patient health outcomes, including opioid use disorders and opioid overdoses, both fatal and nonfatal. We also will examine the resources, systems, strategies and partnerships that helped or hindered the CDC’s opioid prescribing guideline for acute and post-surgical pain.”

In addition to the UNC IPRC, study collaborators include the UNC School of Medicine, Duke University, Vanderbilt University, the North Carolina Division of Public Health and the Tennessee Department of Health. The multidisciplinary team includes seasoned researchers and subject matter experts in opioid safety research, injury prevention, substance use, public health, pain medicine, systems science, epidemiology and biostatistics methods, informatics and public policy.

Gillings School collaborators include Steve Marshall, PhD, professor of epidemiology and UNC IPRC director; Meghan Shanahan, PhD, assistant professor of maternal and child health and core faculty member at IPRC; and Rebecca Naumann, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology and core IPRC faculty member.

Other collaborators from UNC-Chapel Hill are Tim Carey, MD, MPH, distinguished professor of family medicine and co-principal investigator at N.C. TraCS Institute; Paul Chelminski, MD, MPH, professor of family medicine and director of the UNC Physician Assistant Program; and Nabarun Dasgupta, PhD, Gillings School alumnus and senior scientist and core faculty member at the UNC IPRC.

Also collaborating are Li-Tzy Wu, DSc, professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University and director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network (mid-Southern node); David Edwards, MD, PhD, assistant professor of anesthesiology, pain medicine and neurological surgery and chief of Vanderbilt Pain Medicine at Vanderbilt University; Scott Proescholdbell, MPH, senior epidemiologist in the Injury and Violence Prevention Branch at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services; and Melissa McPheeters, PhD, Gillings School alumna (MPH in maternal and child health 1996; PhD in epidemiology, 2003) and director of the Tennessee Department of Health’s Office of Informatics and Analytics.


Contact the Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at

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