In February 2020, a new University of Tennessee Community of Scholars (CoS) formed around opioid dependency. The UT Substance Abuse Workgroup, led by Jennifer Tourville, clinical assistant professor in the College of Nursing, includes participants from UT, the UT Institute of Agriculture, the UT Health Science Center, and several organizations throughout East Tennessee.
The group originally came together in 2019 as an outcome of the UT Summit for Opioid Addiction and Response and was recently formalized as a CoS supported by UT’s Office of Research and Engagement (ORE). Tourville notes that the objective of this group is to increase research projects related to substance abuse issues by facilitating collaboration.
The CoS initiative was launched by ORE as a way to encourage the growth of research affinity groups that cross disciplinary boundaries. Each CoS is composed of researchers from multiple departments, colleges, and/or units, united by a shared research theme or topic area, and organized to share research capabilities, assess collective research strengths, and explore opportunities for collaboration. Objectives
include supporting interdisciplinary scholarship; encouraging new, collaborative research directions; and submitting proposals for external funding.
In addition to the Substance Abuse Workgroup, eight other communities exist at UT. CoS membership is open to all UT faculty. Faculty interested in joining a CoS can find a list of active communities with contact information on ORE’s website.