USM receives research grant

The renewal of an $18 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will enable researchers at The University of Southern Mississippi to continue research in biomedical sciences.

The grant, which has been in effect for 12 years, was recently renewed through 2018. Glen Shearer and Mohamed Elasri, professors in the biological sciences department, are the principal investigators for the grant.

NIH grants allow educators and researchers to enhance the level of scientific study at research institutions and undergraduate schools.

“It speaks volumes about the quality of biomedical research going on at USM that we were able to win this award,” said Vice President for Research Gordon Cannon. “We look forward to another five years of a very vigorous research program.”

Because of this grant, researchers at Southern Miss are able to focus on health issues such as cancer research, diabetes research, heart disease, teen pregnancy, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases – some of the top issues and health disparities plaguing Mississippians today.

“As we all know, Miss. suffers from the worst health in the nation. We are, unfortunately, number one in obesity; number one in cardiovascular deaths; tremendously high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure,” Shearer said. “But one bright thing in this picture is something that we’re not short of and that’s brain power.”

The program’s mission is to reach every college student across Miss. in hopes of providing them with research and training opportunities in the biomedical sciences.

The NIH developed a national program called IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence. The INBRE network, which Southern Miss is a member of, provides the funding for the grant.

USM serves as the leading research institution in the INBRE network, which includes five research-intensive institutions across the state. These include Southern Miss, The University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, Jackson State University and The University of Mississippi Medical Center. The network also includes six partner undergraduate institutions as well as most of the state’s junior colleges.

“We could not do this work without funding from the National Institutes of Health,” Shearer said. “This is a state-wide effort.”

“These two researchers are on the front-line of cutting-edge research that’s changing the lives of Mississippians,” said Southern Miss President Rodney Bennett. “I cannot think of any (research) work that’s more significant than the work that’s being done in this area.”

For more information about the Mississippi INBRE program, visit http://www.msinbre.net/. For more information about the department of biological sciences at Southern Miss visit http://www.usm.edu/biological-sciences/ or call 601.266.4748.

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