RCMI Center for Environmental Health at Jackson State awarded $10.7M

JANS – Jackson State University’s Research Centers at Minority Institutions (RCMI) Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has been awarded a $10.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health-National Institute onMinority Health and HealthDisparities.

The five-year grant will beused to enhancethe center’s biomedical infrastructure to support research that addresses environmental and public health issues impacting vulnerable and underserved communities.

“The center has a long history of conducting innovative research in environmental health, and this award will allow the institution to continue to develop its biomedical research infrastructure, acquire state-of-the-art instrumentation, recruit talented investigators and research staff, provide professional development, and support our strategic plan in the critical area of research and scholarly engagement,” said JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers.

For the past 15 years, RCMI-CEH has focused research on the biochemical and physiological effects resulting from exposure to environmental compounds. The center deploys innovative laboratory and sensitive analytical technologies to understand how such exposure to toxins and carcinogens compromises human health and contributes to disease and death that disproportionately affect minority populations in the U.S.

The grant will support research projects on environmentally induced diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and/or neurobehavioral diseases.

“The new grant will allow RCMI-CEH to move to a higher level of biomedical research excellence by strengthening its current infrastructure, and developing a critical mass of biomedical scientists who have the technical skills to address current and future health challenges in a cost-effective manner,” said Dr. Paul B. Tchounwou, principal investigator and program director. This work has occurred since 1998 when the center was established.

“Our vision is to continue to develop and implement new approaches and cost-effective strategies for the prevention, detection, and control of toxic and carcinogenic environmental contaminants and the resultant diseases that they cause,” said Tchounwou, who is associate dean for Graduate and International Programs in the  College of Science, Engineering and Technology.

By leveraging the RCMI support, investigators have obtained more than $20 million in external grants. More than 100 M.S. and Ph.D. students have been able to complete their research and graduate from JSU thanks to the existence of RCMI-supported resources.

“By developing the biomedical research infrastructure, the center will help Jackson State University build a critical mass and train the new generation of biomedical scientists who will make significant contributions to scientific advances in public health,” said James C. Renick, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “It also will accelerate the pace of scientific discoveries on chronic diseases that disproportionately affect minorities and underserved populations.”

The new award will support several key activities including the enhancement of existing core laboratories: Analytical, Animal, Bioinformatics and Biostatistics, Confocal Microscopy, Cellomics and Toxicogenomics, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Molecular Magnetic Resonance. The award also will support the development of strong biomedical research collaborations and the implementation of a pilot project program that provides financial support for the conduct of scientifically meritorious and innovative pilot projects in environmental health and health disparities research through a competitive process with open solicitation, peer-review.