Filed Under:  Education, Health & Wellness

Dillard gets $25M grant to study race-based health disparities

31st October 2011   ·   0 Comments

Dillard University is getting a $25 million, five-year grant to expand its research of health and healthcare inequalities between races and people in different parts of the country.

“The $25 million award for this grant represents the largest single grant award to the university in its history, and is the result of the hard work of a number of faculty and administrators,” Theodore Callier, Dillard’s assistant vice president for research and sponsored programs, said Monday. “This is an extraordinary award for the university, and it represents a multimillion-dollar investment in the area’s economy over the life of the grant.”

The National Institutes of Health is giving Dillard the money to invest, with endowment earnings used to improve labs, hire faculty members and recruit and support students for the research.

The grant will provide $5 million for each of the next five years to the university’s research endowment. Earnings on the endowment funds will go to expand Dillard’s research capacity and infrastructure.

The grant comes from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Minority populations tend to have poorer health and poorer health care. The institute’s website says research could include studying diseases in which the differences are biggest, improving treatment of such diseases, and understanding what causes the differences.

In 2010 and 2011 Dillard was also awarded $6.5 million and $5.6 million grants from the NIH for university centers in health disparities research and environmental health sciences. According to the grant agreement for this new award, funds will be invested and investment earnings will be utilized to carry out the grant objectives, including research facility upgrades.

Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins, a lead investigator for the grant, said it will have a major impact on Dillard’s schools of nursing and public health. She said it also will increase cooperative research between the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the Depart­ment of Social Sciences.

“What’s so exciting about this award is that it not only strengthens and advances current research activity, but it will also facilitate the hiring of additional stellar research faculty, including an endowed chair and a number of endowed research professors,” Dr. Dawkins said. “All of this dramatically advances undergraduate research by enabling us to recruit, support, and mentor additional students in health disparities and related research.”

Former Dillard president Dr. Marvalene Hughes began work on the grant before she returned to academics in June. She said it will help the city as well as the university, by expanding health and biomedical research infrastructure.

“This is a giant step for Dillard because it puts the university in a position of leadership in helping to address health inequities,” said Dr. Hughes, the grant’s principal investigator. “Not only will the university be able to grow its health and research programs, but the New Orleans community at large will significantly benefit as the city continues to expand its health and biomedical research infrastructure.”

“We are excited and honored to have been selected for one of these awards,” said Dr. Lyons, Dillard’s interim president. “This affords us the opportunity to continue to build our infrastructure and greatly advance our capacity to engage in high-end health and health disparities research. By making this an endowment grant, the NIMHD has made a very significant and long-term commitment to Dillard’s efforts to address health inequities.”

This article was originally published in the October 31, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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