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MSU targets women's health research with $2.5 million grant

EAST LANSING, Mich. - With the help of a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, Michigan State University is creating a cross-discipline, mentored program designed to increase the number and diversity of researchers in women's health.

MSU's new Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health program, to be housed in the Department of Medicine in the College of Human Medicine, will help junior investigators by matching them with mentors and protecting their time so they can focus on research efforts.

Investigators from across the university researching women's health will be eligible to apply for the program.

"This award provides an enormous opportunity for MSU and researchers in women's health," said Mary Nettleman, chairperson of the Department of Medicine and principal investigator on the grant. "This type of training grant not only encourages young investigators to come to MSU but also creates new networks and connections among researchers.

"It allows scholars to become independently funded women's health investigators."

As part of the program, junior investigators from disciplines across the university can apply for funding. Those chosen will be assigned to a mentor; 21 mentors have been identified from the colleges of Human Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, Natural Science, Veterinary Medicine, Nursing, Social Science and Communication Arts and Sciences.

Also, the grant will help cover the salaries of junior investigators to allow them time to apply for grants, set up projects and conduct research.

"For these researchers, the commodity most difficult to get is time," Nettleman said, noting that departments will be reimbursed so investigators can focus solely on research projects. "This will help ensure that promising junior researchers have the protected time, good mentorship and appropriate training to become successful women's health researchers."

In addition to mentoring and resources, the program includes a curriculum tailored to the specific stage of development of each scholar, she added, noting this will support scholars at a time in their career where they are at highest risk to leave research.

The grant solidifies MSU as innovators in women's health research. In April, MSU's College of Human Medicine became the home for a $6.8 million Center for Women's Health and Reproduction Research, led by infertility researcher Asgi T. Fazleabas. MSU also is home to the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Center, established in 2003 and led by physiology professor Sandra Z. Haslam. The center studies the impact of prenatal-to-adult environmental exposures that predispose women to breast cancer.

Nettleman said one of the reasons NIH chose MSU as one of 12 grant recipients nationwide was the strength of its current research profile, as well as the university's diversity among investigators and projects.

An application process is being developed, Nettleman said, and information will be sent to researchers in the coming weeks. The program will sponsor approximately eight scholars over the life of the grant. By the end of the training period, each scholar is expected to have written a competitive grant application.


Contact: Jason Cody
Michigan State University

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