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The Tuskegee University Research Centers in Minority Institutions Center for Biomedical Research (TU RCMI CBR) has received a $25 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) to help researchers develop health solutions for minority populations, particularly around obesity, and breast and cervical cancer. This is the largest research grant ever awarded to Tuskegee, which will partner with local and national health organizations to distribute research results directly to community members.
The funding will be used to enhance TU’s research capacity to conduct cutting-edge biomedical, population, and clinical/health services research, specifically focusing on delivering genomic testing and genotyping services to diverse and underserved populations. The university will share research with the Southern Christian Leadership Foundation, the Alabama Wellness Coalition, the Alabama Department of Public Health, the Macon County School System, and the Macon County Healthcare Authority, which work to address health and socio-economic disparities among disadvantaged populations.
“This historical award is a testament to the years of dedication that our team of world-renown researchers have produced,” said Dr. Charlotte P. Morris, President. “It confirms the expertise our students are exposed to every day. What pleases me personally, is the impact this research will have on the lives of so many African American women.”
This award is led by Dr. Deepa Bedi, Associate Professor and contact Principal Investigator (PI), and Dr. Timothy Turner, Associate Vice President for Health-Related Research.
“Our ultimate goal is to effectively address and narrow the health disparity gap, especially in the context of evolving healthcare dynamics,” said Dr. Bedi. “This endeavor represents a significant step forward in meeting a critical need that most institutions find challenging to fulfill. The novel approach of integrating genomics-based research with the social determinants of health (SDOH), sets us apart, as we can seamlessly integrate basic science into translational and clinical health research.”
“Through this grant, we are changing the face of health disparity research not only at TU, but globally,” said Dr. Turner.
Drs. Bedi, Balu Karanam, and Ehsan Abdalla will focus on diseases that plague minority communities. Their research will explore and highlight the role of obesity in the context of SDOH. This is crucial, especially when considering its potential influence on the aggressiveness of breast cancer in African American women. By delving deeper into this clinical health research, Dr. Bedi aims to unravel the intricate mechanisms through which obesity might act as a causative agent.
A second project led by Dr. Karanam, Associate Professor in the Department of Biology, will focus on developing a novel therapeutic that specifically targets African American women with quadruple negative breast cancer. The last project, led by Dr. Abdalla, Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health, will focus on closing the health disparity gap in cervical cancer. Together, these research projects will provide invaluable insights, potentially leading to more effective prevention strategies and tailored treatments for African American women.
To ensure the research findings are disseminated to the community, the RCMI Community Engagement Core, led by Dr. Vivian Carter, Associate Professor and Chair of Psychology, and Dr. Abdalla, will continue to build and expand its long-term partnerships with community-based organizations.
“All Tuskegee faculty will have access to and support from the three infrastructure focused cores,” said Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, Tuskegee Provost. “This monumental investment by NIMHD in Tuskegee to elevate its biomedical research and research infrastructure will attract top-tier researchers and scholars to this campus, and further strengthen the institution's research and academic reputation.”
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