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$18.4 Million Grant Awarded to Enhance Biomedical Research in Oklahoma

Monday, July 21, 2014 - Campus News -
                                        Dr. Darrin Akins.

An $18.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will advance biomedical research and workforce development across the state.

The five-year grant, one of the largest NIH grants in Oklahoma to date, was awarded to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center from the NIH Institutional Development Award program to expand medical research and education in the areas of cancer, developmental biology and infectious disease. The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education will provide an additional $500,000 match annually to further enhance research and educational activities at Oklahoma's regional universities.

"The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education are committed to maintaining research as a priority in our state," said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. "This award will enable Oklahoma researchers to continue working to find cures for diseases that affect citizens in our state, nation and around the world and will provide a structured system to increase the number of undergraduate students who continue their education and enter health-related fields in Oklahoma."

The IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) grant will be managed by Dr. Darrin Akins, professor of microbiology and immunology, associate dean for research at the OUHSC College of Medicine and director of the Oklahoma INBRE Program. It is a multi-institutional award that utilizes senior scientists and faculty from OUHSC and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation to mentor and provide guidance to scientists embarking on their own research and careers within the health profession across Oklahoma.

"This award is especially significant because it helps foster the careers of promising young scientists and health professionals in our state, which ultimately will bolster efforts to improve the health of all Oklahomans," said University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren.

State-of-the-art research equipment will also be funded through the grant to improve the research infrastructure at Oklahoma colleges and universities. In addition, the grant supports numerous outreach activities geared toward high school teachers and students, as well as faculty and undergraduate students at colleges and universities throughout the state.

"This award is important as we work to further our mission of advancing scientific knowledge and patient care. It addresses important public health issues, including the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections, cancer and diabetes. It also enhances community outreach efforts aimed at elevating the number and quality of students preparing for careers in medical research and health professions," said M. Dewayne Andrews, M.D., MACP, senior vice president and provost of OUHSC and executive dean of the OU College of Medicine.

Regional university research partners supported by the grant include:
•Cameron University
•Langston University
•Northeastern State University
•Southeastern Oklahoma State University
•Southwestern Oklahoma State University
•University of Central Oklahoma

Community college outreach partners include:
•Comanche Nation College
•Oklahoma City Community College
•Redlands Community College
•Tulsa Community College

In addition, the grant funds an annual summer research program providing more than 40 Oklahoma college undergraduates with hands-on biomedical research experiences at the OUHSC campus and OMRF, as well as a statewide conference to encourage women and underrepresented minorities to enter health-related careers and an annual conference showcasing Oklahoma undergraduate research.

The Institutional Development Awards program is administered by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the NIH. The program is designed to augment biomedical research capacity and workforce development opportunities in states where NIH funding has historically been low.

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