FIU wins $19.4M NIH grant to fight health disparities

[Benzinga] FIU wins $19.4M NIH grant to fight health disparities

MIAMI, Nov. 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida International University researchers are at the forefront of ensuring the health and well-being of underserved communities don't slip through the cracks. In 2017, FIU's Community-Based Research Institute won a $13.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to build the Research Center in a Minority Institution at FIU (FIU-RCMI), which focused on world-class, community-partnered health disparities research and training. In recognition of the FIU-RCMI's exceptional performance and its plans for expansion, NIH just renewed the FIU-RCMI with a 5-year, $19.4 million grant, which is the university's largest NIH award to date.

"The FIU-RCMI has and will continue to drive FIU's outstanding growth in research capacity in the area of health disparities," said FIU President Kenneth A. Jessell. "Over the past five years, our faculty have demonstrated a passion and commitment to the kind of work that has a positive impact on the health of our community and the world."

Since its inception, the FIU-RCMI has supported and mentored dozens of post-doctoral fellows, junior faculty, and other early-stage investigators. The three major research projects funded by the new grant are led by researchers who received mentoring and training through the center.

"These are research projects led by investigators from backgrounds underrepresented in science, given that all are women and several further identify as minorities," said Eric F. Wagner, FIU-RCMI's principal investigator and professor of social work at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work.  "These are brilliant researchers who have overcome historical and systemic obstacles to obtaining NIH funding and are using science to make the world a better place."

The new grant will allow the FIU-RCMI to expand its scope to:

Address HIV and COVID-19 disparities among people with HIV.  The pandemic has caused disruption to HIV services and care, substantially impacting people with HIV. Diana Sheehan, assistant professor of epidemiology at Stempel College, will mine and interpret data to understand whether the pandemic has exacerbated HIV disparities among minority populations.

Explore microbiome profiles, sleep and cognition among mid-life Latinx adults. Latinx populations are disproportionately affected by health disparities related to sleep and are 1.5 times more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. The NIH-funded study led by Shanna Burke, associate professor of social work at Stempel College, and Sabrina Sales Martinez, assistant professor of dietetics and nutrition at Stempel College, will be among the first of its kind to examine microbiota, metabolome, sleep, stress and cognition measures to identify early risk factors of Alzheimer's disease linked to gut health.

Reduce cancer disparities in Hispanic and Black children in Miami.  Diana Azzam, assistant professor of environmental health sciences at Stempel College, is determined to identify drug treatments that can help improve the health of childhood cancer patients from minority populations. Azzam's lab is conducting a study to identify specific biomarkers among minority populations that can be targeted using FDA-approved drugs.

The FIU-RCMI team is comprised of 25 FIU faculty from various disciplines and currently contributes to 78 different faculty, staff, and student positions.

Read the full story on FIU News

Media Contact:Stephanie

View original content:

SOURCE Florida International University

Source: Benzinga