Savannah State University (SSU), a 119-year-old minority-serving institution within the University System of Georgia, will use RIMI funding in collaboration with Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) and its recently enhanced laboratory facilities at its Savannah campus to lay the foundation for ongoing health disparities research and education. RIMI support will build the research capacity of SSU's junior faculty, enhance biomedical programs for its students and establish a Health Disparities Shared Research Resources Laboratory. The new core laboratory will include the acquisition of analytic equipment needed for junior faculty researchers and the incorporation of Geographic Information Systems technology into a new regional disparities database. The new equipment will enable mentored researchers to undertake their proposed subprojects to (1) investigate the synthesis of novel agents to treat addiction as a strategy for fighting HIV and (2) improve the efficiency of photodynamic therapy as a treatment for cancer. The third mentored researcher will implement a long-term intervention study targeting obese African-American women as the foundation for a center for health disparities research for the Savannah region. In collaboration with MUSM, with the support of research mentors and the full backing of its administration, SSU will focus on (1) developing faculty research capabilities and professional development in areas of health disparities research;(2) enhancing academic and experiential opportunities for students to lead them to post-graduate study and careers as research scientists;(3) building the University's research infrastructure, including development of a regional disparities database with the capacity for geospatial analytics;and (4) sustaining community partnerships and effective community outreach to link SSU public health research to Savannah area health needs and policy.
The RIMI proposal serves the mission of the NCMHD by strengthening the research capacity and infrastructure of SSU to promote minority health and eliminate health disparities. Developing junior faculty to become independent investigators who will contribute to eliminating health disparities and providing quality undergraduate research training and curriculum enhancement in health sciences fields in order to increase the production of underrepresented minorities and women in biomedical fields and thus developing minority scientists who will commit to careers to serve minority communities meets the intent and accomplishes the purpose of Public Law 106-525.
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