Oct. 25, 2010
Jeremy Craig, 404-413-1357
ATLANTA — Thanks to a record amount of support from federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health, Georgia State researchers are getting a leg up on discovering new medicines to treat disease, addressing public health concerns among minorities, understanding the mind and educating the next generation of scientists.
Faculty and other researchers have received more than $9 million in grants from the NIH during the past few months.
“The recent strong support from the NIH is significant and represents continued evidence of our advancement in state-of-the art research and learning activities here at Georgia State,” said Robin Morris, vice president for research. “The funding will allow GSU to address pressing public health concerns, as well as to train the next generation of scientists.”
Support from the NIH’s National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities is allowing GSU to start a new Center for Excellence in Health Disparities Research.
The new center, funded by a five-year, $6.7 million grant, will address factors such as poverty, discrimination, unemployment, the manmade environment and the lack of access to health care.
“These factors conspire to put communities at a disadvantage in terms of health and well-being,” said Michael Eriksen, director of GSU’s Institute of Public Health. “What we hope to do with this new, larger center of excellence is to better understand the socioeconomic forces that contribute to ill health in communities that constitute much of urban Atlanta, and the urban United States.”
The center is based in the Institute of Public Health and involves faculty from both the College of Health and Human Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences. Major projects include the study of health among people who have been relocated from Atlanta’s traditional public housing; the role of religion in reducing drug use and transmission of HIV; and the testing of a computer-based method to reduce child maltreatment.
Another grant from NIH has been awarded to GSU in partnership with several Atlanta universities to start a program to encourage and prepare students from diverse backgrounds to pursue neuroscience-related careers at the doctoral level.
The $1.7 million grant will fund the program, which will be conducted in concert with Emory University, Agnes Scott College and Spelman College. It will involve a two-year research immersion program for undergraduate students from underrepresented groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities, students with disabilities and educationally disadvantaged students. Kyle Frantz, associate professor of neuroscience, is heading up the program.
The award, from the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences, is part of the NIH Blueprint for Enhancing Neuroscience Diversity through Undergraduate Research Education Experiences (BP-ENDURE).
On another front, Yujun Zheng, assistant professor of chemistry and one of the university’s Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar, received a five-year, $1.2 million grant to further his work in cancer research.
Zheng’s NIH grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences will help find new ways to attack a type of protein involved in the development of prostate cancer, which will hopefully lead to new drugs that will target the disease.
In partnership with the National Science Foundation, the NIH has also awarded Michael Beran, a senior research scientist, with more than $1 million to study metacognition – “thinking about thinking” – that plays a key role in learning.
Beran’s research, which is being undertaken with a colleague at the University of Buffalo, is being performed at the university’s Language Research Center. The LRC is marking its 30th anniversary this year.
Overall, during the first quarter of fiscal year 2011, the university received about $20 million for sponsored projects from all sources, compared to $12.5 million during the same time last year.