The Wexner Center Board of Trustees voted on construction and highlighted an opioid epidemic research grant at Wednesday’s meeting. Credit: Lantern file photo

The construction of the $155.9 million Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Center was approved by the Wexner Medical Center Board of Trustees for recommendation to the University Board of Trustees Wednesday. 

The proposed project’s budget would go toward the design and construction of a revamped Hamilton Hall on Neil Avenue, which includes a 100,000-square-foot building and a football field-sized quad.

“There is a classroom wing that supports all the classroom needs of the seven health colleges,” Jay Kasey, senior vice president of the Office of Administration and Planning, said. “There is an anatomy wing which will be supportive of the anatomy needs and education for all those colleges and then the forum is a gathering spot; it is truly an interdisciplinary building.”  

This project is part of Ohio State’s long-term plan, Framework 2.0, which is a guideline for construction on campus that “supports the academic mission while maintaining and improving green areas,” according to the university’s website.

If accepted, the construction is expected to be completed in 2023.

In the same vote, the Board sent for contract negotiations approval requests for a new parking garage near Dodd Hall and Martha Morehouse Facility improvements.

Dr. Rebecca Jackson, director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science and lead investigator on the Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) study, spoke to the Board about the $65.9 million National Institutes of Health grant Ohio State received over the summer and how it is being implemented.

Ohio State researchers, in partnership with Gov. Mike DeWine’s RecoveryOhio, other Ohio universities and 19 Ohio counties, are running test sites of community interventions to help people addicted to opioids.

“In April of 2019, we were informed by the NIH and HHS that the Ohio State University was one of four awardees for the HEALing Communities study — one of the most competitive studies that were ever done at the NIH,” Jackson said. “This grant is one of the largest and most collaborative research grants ever received by Ohio State.”

The goal of the HEALing Communities study is to reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths by 40 percent in the next three years, Jackson said. 

Unlike typical top-down research, this project will work with people across the community in health care, behavioral health, justice and other facets of society, Jackson said. The final goal is for the results to be applied to the entire nation.

“As a land-grant institution, in a state that was one of the most highly affected by the opioid crisis, we felt that we actually had a moral imperative to respond to this request for applications,” Jackson said.