Georgia Southern University’s Rural Health Research Institute has been awarded a $5.1 million grant by the National Institutes of Health — one of the largest research grants recently awarded to the university.
The grant designates Rural Health Research as a Center of Excellence for the Elimination of Rural Health Disparities. Drs. Bryant Smalley and Jacob Warren, the institute’s co-executive directors, received the grant, the school announced Thursday.
“We are honored to have been entrusted with advancing rural health by such a prestigious federal agency,” University President Brooks Keel said. “We are eager to enact the opportunities this grant provides to make a difference in the region.”
Funding for the new five-year project comes from NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and will allow Rural Health Research to enact a comprehensive rural health disparity elimination program spanning research, training and community outreach.
The grant’s activities include:
developing and testing new rural-specific health promotion programs designed to improve diabetes, hypertension and prostate cancer outcomes;
enacting a rural health disparities elimination summer training program for undergraduate and graduate students;
implementing new mentoring programs for faculty wishing to pursue careers in rural health; and
creating a new community capacity-building initiative to improve health outcomes throughout rural southeast Georgia.
The grant, which will last through 2017, will also fund 10 new jobs on campus.
“We are thrilled that Georgia Southern and the RHRI have been awarded such a significant grant to bring unprecedented attention to rural health in the region,” said Smalley, a clinical psychologist in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. “This grant will allow Georgia Southern University to make significant advancements in rural health disparities research, and officially designates the university as a national leader in addressing rural health issues.”
“Bringing together interdisciplinary teams like the one assembled for this project is a great example of the work we are doing in the Rural Health Research Institute,” added Warren, an epidemiologist in the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health. “By bringing together the tremendous expertise present throughout Georgia Southern University, this project will truly make a difference in rural health.”
The interdisciplinary project, led by Smalley and Warren, brings together a campus-wide team of faculty from eight departments for the project. Collaborators include faculty from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health and the College of Health and Human Sciences.
“This is a significant moment in Georgia Southern University’s research history,” said Charles Patterson, GSU’s vice president for research and economic development. “The efforts of Drs. Smalley and Warren are an example of the collaborative and interdisciplinary work being performed by the Rural Health Research Institute and demonstrate Georgia Southern’s identity as a leading research University.”
NIH held a nationwide grant competition for the project, which involved a rigorous review and awarding process that lasted 16 months. The Center of Excellence grants are designed to allow universities to make significant progress toward eliminating disproportionate burdens of disease in a specific group; the Rural Health Research Institute sought and received funding to address rural health issues.
Georgia Southern’s institute is an interdisciplinary hub of rural health research and outreach that spans five GSU colleges. Its mission is to improve health in rural areas by promoting cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research and outreach that connects faculty from diverse fields and promotes the development of researchers examining rural health issues.