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Department of communications employees continue to work mostly remotely, but they are readily available to assist members of the media. Reporters are encouraged to contact the sources below, to use our experts directory to find contact information for other subject matter experts and to visit the UA News Center.


SOCIAL WORK RESEARCH SECURES $1.7 MILLION TO ADVANCE DEMENTIA CARE — The National Institute on Aging has awarded Dr. Nicole Ruggiano, associate professor of social work at The University of Alabama, $1.6 million to leverage tablet devices to improve communication between dementia patients, their caregivers and healthcare providers. Ruggiano has also received a $150,000 National Science Foundation planning grant to create a live resource database for dementia caregivers across Alabama. Both projects are technology-driven, building on Ruggiano’s web app CareHeroes, which helps caregivers and physicians communicate more frequently via a web app. Ruggiano says that there are more than 300,000 people in Alabama who either have dementia or are providing care for someone who does, and their needs or obstacles to resources are complex, and that Being able to find and develop technology that providers, caregivers and patients can use will increase quality and access of care. Ruggiano can be reached directly at For more information, contact David Miller, UA School of Social Work, at 205/348-3942 or  

HRSA AWARDS $1 MILLION TO RESEARCHER’S OPOID TELEHEALTH NETWORK — After a successful planning stage of TeleECHO, a University of Alabama-led outreach program to combat opioids in rural counties in Alabama, the Health Resources and Services Administration has awarded Dr. Hee Yun Lee a $1 million to fully implement the program. The three-year project will see a team of UA researchers and a consortium of providers, legislators and community leaders build out opioid prevention services and direct-care improvements in Franklin, Fayette, Lamar, Marion, Winston and Walker counties. The program’s foundation is education, particularly for community members to better understand what they’re being prescribed, but also to understand what opioid addiction looks like in their community and how they can intervene. The program will also establish education hubs in each communities, where citizens can receive education and training for intervention methods, such as administering life-saving drugs. Lee can be reached at For more information, contact David Miller, UA School of Social Work, at 205/348-3942 or 

UA PROGRAM HELPS SMALL BUSINESSES WITH CHALLENGES IN PANDEMIC A program based at The University of Alabama has helped thousands of small businesses in the state successfully tap into federal disaster funds to preserve jobs and stay open during the coronavirus pandemic. The Alabama Small Business Development Center, part of the UA Office for Research and Economic Development, delivered over 55 workshops on applying for disaster funding, addressing almost daily changes in the funding programs. Close to 6,600 individuals participated in the SBDC training webinars and advising services, resulting in $117 million in funding for small businesses. For more information, contact Adam Jones, UA communications, at 


UA EXPERTS AVAILABLE TO DISCUSS ISSUES AMID CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC  – Faculty at UA are available to discuss aspects of the coronavirus pandemic including topics related to health care, education and the economy. This list will be updated, so check back often for new sources. For assistance with reaching any of these sources or for topics not highlighted, contact Shane Dorrill at

NEED A SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT ON TOPICS MAKING NEWS? – See our frequently updated experts directory here.