LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Children’s Hospital is set to launch its National Center for Opioid Research & Clinical Effectiveness to focus on the impact of opioids on children in the state.

Officials with Arkansas Children’s Hospital said that the center’s work will help with better understanding the impacts of opioids for children, including unborn babies. Health officials will also work to develop treatments that will improve child health.

“The opioid crisis has devastated Arkansas families, and we see the impact in our NICU, clinics and ER every day,” Marcy Doderer, FACHE, Arkansas Children’s president and chief executive officer, said. “By creating this center, we are accelerating a healthier future for the children of Arkansas. The brilliant capacity of the team already on the ground and those we will recruit will create a better today and healthier tomorrow for the unbelievable number of children who suffer in the opioid crisis’ wake.”

Griffin made the announcement Thursday morning alongside Doderer, FACHE and Arkansas Children’s Chief Clinical Officer Rick Barr, MD that his office has granted $50 million in funding for the center.

Following the announcement Griffin released a statement saying that the facility will be first of its kind in the country, making history in the fight against opioid abuse.

“It will put our state on the front line of saving future generations from the scourge of opioid addiction and on the map as the center for pediatric opioid research in the United States,” Griffin said.

ACH officials estimated the project will require $70 million in funding and that the health system will provide the remaining funds after the opioid settlement funds.

Griffin said the center will be ran by Dr. Pete Mourani, who has experience in the field of pediatric critical illness and injury. Mourani will work closely with Dr. William Steinbach and will lead a national search for the center’s inaugural director, Griffin said.