• Apr 10 2023

Talbert Leads New Data System to Predict, Prevent Opioid Overdoses in KY

Svetla Slavova and Jeff Talbert stand side by side in front of a wall that's floor-to-ceiling windows. She is on the left, wearing a dark purple suit; her hair is a chin-length bob, she's wearing glasses and smiling. Talbert is on the right, wearing a gray blazer with a blight blue shirt beneath. He has short gray hair and dark-rimmed rectangular glasses.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 10, 2023)  University of Kentucky researchers are creating an innovative statewide surveillance system to inform prevention and response efforts aimed at reducing the burden of opioid use disorder in Kentucky.

The Rapid Actionable Data for Opioid Response in Kentucky (RADOR-KY) will use data from federal, state, and local sources to guide evidence-based practices aimed at preventing opioid overdoses in the Commonwealth. Phase one of the project is supported by a three-year $3.1 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and illegally manufactured fentanyl, drug overdose deaths in the U.S. increased to historic levels in 2021. Kentucky has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. Overdose deaths reached an all-time high of 2,250, with 90% of those deaths involving an opioid. 

RADOR-KY will use a comprehensive set of data needed to effectively monitor and respond to the rapidly evolving opioid overdose crisis. The system will use advanced algorithms to rapidly process data and help predict potential overdose surges using artificial intelligence.

The project is co-led by Svetla Slavova, Ph.D., associate professor in the College of Public Health, and Jeff Talbert, Ph.D., professor in the College of Medicine and College of Pharmacy and associate director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science,

“This unique, first-of-its-kind system will not only track and monitor overdose cases but use predictive analytics and dashboards for fast dissemination of analytical results to keep state agencies and local stakeholders on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic in Kentucky a step ahead,” said Slavova, who also serves as interim associate dean for research in the College of Public Health.

RADOR-KY will use data from multiple sources, including the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics, syndromic surveillance, emergency medical services, prescription drug monitoring, Medicaid claims and drug seizure records. It will also track measures related to evidence-based practices such as treatment for opioid use disorder, overdose education and the distribution of naloxone, a life-saving medication that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose.

The project will leverage the expertise of UK research centers including the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research, and the Institute for Biomedical Informatics. It also builds upon the expertise and experience gained from UK's work on the HEALing Communities Study (HCS).


By Elizabeth Chapin