WVU Receives $1.3 Million NIH Grant

HSTA Students to Design, Implement Public Health Clinical Trials

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia University received a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health Thursday that will support the Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA) for the next five years.

HSTA reaches out to 9th-12th graders from rural, minority and economically disadvantaged communities across West Virginia and prepares them for college, professional school and health care careers. The goal is to educate underserved populations about science and health, and to recruit more scientists and health care providers who will return to their communities and serve the state.

The new funding will allow WVU to establish a pilot project involving Kanawha County HSTA students in health prevention research.  Students at five high schools in Kanawha County – Capitol, George Washington, Riverside, St. Albans and South Charleston – participate in the HSTA program.

“This grant provides us the ability to partner with the CARDIAC program, screening  children for various risk factors associated with diseases prevalent in West Virginia,” said Ann Chester, Ph.D., of the WVU School of Medicine, program director for HSTA. “Students will be involved with research and promote lifestyle interventions focused on nutrition and exercise. We are truly appreciative of the support that NIH has shown for this program and their investment in West Virginia’s future.”

The grant is one of 11 Science Education Partnership Awards (SEPA) awarded by the NIH across the U.S. SEPA projects are designed to inform the public about health issues, foster science literacy, and encourage students to consider careers in the health sciences.

“NIH has funded HSTA for nine years, and this grant is a renewed vote of confidence in the program,” said Steve Starks, statewide chairman of HSTA. “We’re not just helping individuals. We’re improving science and math education, empowering communities through leadership development of their youth, and increasing the number of health care providers in the state’s under-served rural communities.”
There are 778 HSTA students in West Virginia, including 86 in Kanawha County. More than 700 successful HSTA alumni are attending college or professional school, or have graduated.
HSTA also brings minority and other under-represented students and their teachers to WVU each summer for laboratory and classroom training and enrichment activities. It then provides the infrastructure and support for community-based science projects mentored by teachers, health professions students and volunteer community leaders during the school year.

The program also received recognition from the Association of American Medical Colleges when it named the WVU School of Medicine as the winner of its 2006 Award for Outstanding Community Service. The award is presented to a U.S. medical school with a longstanding, major institutional commitment to addressing community needs.

- WVU -

For more information:
Bill Case, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087

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