WASHINGTON — Call it a “moon shot” aimed at damping down the opioid crisis.

A consortium of Ohio colleges and communities led by Ohio State University is undertaking a sweeping effort to study how best to reduce opioid deaths in the state.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that Ohio will play a role in a four-year, $350 million study that aims to reduce opioid deaths by 40 percent over three years, with the first year being devoted to ramping up the program.

Ohio State and its partners will receive a $65.9 million federal research grant for part of the project, with the first installment totaling $13 million.

Kentucky, New York and Massachusetts will also receive federal grants through what the federal government calls the HEALing Communities Study. RTI International, based in North Carolina, will serve as the study’s overall coordinating center, responsible for data analysis, health economics research and dissemination of research findings.

A dozen states had initially applied for the grant.

By selecting Ohio, the Trump administration picked an epicenter in the epidemic. In 2017, 4,293 Ohioans died from opioid-related overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only West Virginia had a higher rate of deaths per 100,000 people.

Ohio State will lead a consortium in the state that will use real-time research to target prevention, treatment and recovery programs, determining which elements work best in the communities being studied.

The Ohio study will focus on 19 Ohio counties: Allen, Ashtabula, Athens, Brown, Cuyahoga, Darke, Franklin, Guernsey, Greene, Hamilton, Huron, Jefferson, Lucas, Morrow, Ross, Scioto, Stark, Williams and Wyandot.

The Ohio consortium will bring together experts from six universities — Ohio State, University of Cincinnati, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio University, University of Toledo and Wright State University — as well as leaders from state agencies, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and other community organizations. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration is also participating.

In a prepared statement, DeWine said the study will allow Ohio to “expand its efforts to address the substance use crisis that is taking a toll on families across the state in a comprehensive, collaborative way.” His administration in January launched the RecoveryOhio initiative that aims to improve prevention, treatment and recovery support efforts that address mental health and substance use.