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JSU receives $11.2 million NIH grant to create a specialized research center on minority health and health disparities

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Jackson State University will study minority health and health disparities after being awarded an $11.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health-National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to establish a Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Center for Health Disparities Research (CHDR).

The five-year grant will be used to develop a robust biomedical infrastructure with state-of-the-art research capabilities that will enable JSU researchers to use innovative approaches for examining health disparity diseases and developing novel prevention and treatment strategies.

Principal investigator Dr. Paul Tchounwou in JSU's College of Science, Engineering and Technology said a major goal will be to provide a biomedical research environment that fosters team science and innovative research on health issues of minorities and underserved communities. (Photo by Charles A. Smith/JSU).

Principal investigator Dr. Paul Tchounwou in JSU’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology said a major goal will be to provide a biomedical research environment that fosters team science and innovative research on health issues of minorities and underserved communities. (Photo by Charles A. Smith/JSU).

JSU Acting President Thomas K. Hudson said, “Our strategic vision is to achieve national recognition for excellence in health disparities research as well as to make significant contributions to the training and production of highly skilled minority researchers who can address health disparities in a cost-effective manner.”

Dr. Paul Tchounwou in JSU’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology is the principal investigator and program director. He said, “Our strategic plan focuses on three main goals. The first one will be to provide an excellent biomedical research environment that fosters team science and promotes the development and implementation of innovative research on important health issues of concern to minorities and underserved communities,” he said.

Tchounwou added, “The second goal will support career enhancement opportunities to develop the biomedical research skills of our early-stage investigators and facilitate their transition to research independence. And, the third goal aims to establish strong community-academic partnerships to foster community participatory research and translate the research findings to improve minority health and reduce health disparities.”

Dr. Joseph Whittaker, associate provost and vice president for JSU’s Research and Economic Development, said the NIH grant will expand capabilities and foster potential breakthroughs.

“The new award provides outstanding opportunities for Jackson State University researchers to accelerate the pace of scientific discoveries on chronic diseases that disproportionately affect minorities and underserved populations. It will also drive the development of transformative methodologies, as well as technologies,” Whittaker said.

Meanwhile, by developing a strong research center, Tchounwou and his team say the center will help Jackson State University strengthen its research portfolio and position the university at the forefront of biomedical research aimed at improving minority health and reducing health disparities in Mississippi and the United States.”

The RCMI-CHDR is comprised of seven major components, including the Administrative Core (AC), Research Infrastructure Core (RIC), Investigator Development Core (IDC), Community Engagement Core (CEC), and three research projects.

The AC provides administrative and managerial oversight of all program activities. The RIC provides laboratory resources and technical expertise in new technologies. The IDC provides funding for innovative pilot projects conducted by early-stage investigators. The CEC fosters community engagement and research participation and facilitates translation of research findings.

In addition, the PIs of the three research projects, as well as the PIs of anticipated pilot projects, will conduct high-impact research that’s expected to lead to novel discoveries in the science of health disparities.