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USciences’ NIH Visit Focuses on Expanding Interprofessional Research Opportunities

By Jenna Pizzi

NIH TripIn an effort to build relationships and learn about how to better qualify for federal grant funding, a group of University of the Sciences faculty and staff traveled to the Bethesda, Md., headquarters of the National Institutes of Health.

“The broad base of our research has an appeal to organizations like the NIH,” said Sarah E. Robertson, PhD, director of sponsored projects and research at USciences. “The collaboration between our different colleges is relatable and our research is in areas that the NIH is interested in funding.”

The University has been successful in securing federal funds through NIH for several projects in recent years including Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Zachary Klase, PhD, who received a $2.1 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a branch of NIH, to continue his research into examining how drugs of abuse may alter the epigenetic landscape of HIV-1 infected individuals. 

Last year, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Zhiwei Liu, PhD, and Professor of Chemistry Vojislava Pophristic, PhD, received a $427,500 NIH grant for a research on computational development of systems for diagnostic and therapeutic recognition of sugars, especially targeting cancer and diabetes. Amanpreet Kaur PhD’17, a student in the University’s Cancer Biology program, was awarded $45,076 to fund melanoma research with the Wistar Institute.

“We have a nationally recognized research program that is enriching the undergraduate experience, helping students learn and train to one day have their own grants for their own projects,” said Dr. Robertson. “We are building these relationships with NIH and other organizations so that we can continue to be present on a national stage and compete for these opportunities for our students and faculty.”

Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy David Logerstedt MPT, PhD said he was able to meet with the program officers at the institute to which he submits and received some feedback for his project. The program officers also encouraged faculty members who are new researchers or mid-career researchers to apply for funding.

“It was a great learning experience,” said Wendy Fox, MOT, OTR/L, assistant professor of occupational therapy. “As a new researcher, they provided much training around the types of grants, roles, responsibilities, and strategies toward successful grant writing. Overall, it was a fantastic opportunity provided by USciences that fosters strong endeavors.”

Meeting with the Director of Extramural Research and Program Officers made the whole process of applying for NIH funding seem less intimidating and more attainable, said Jessica Adams, PharmD, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy. 

“I was particularly interested to learn about the focus the NIH is putting on early- and mid-career investigators over the next several years and hope to take advantage of those opportunities,” she said.

Following the meeting, several faculty members applied by the June deadline for funding and others are readying applications for the next six months. On average, the NIH announces its decisions within nine months of application.  

The professors and staff who attended the trip include: Jessica Adams, PharmD, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy; Wendy Fox, MOT, OTR/L, assistant professor of occupational therapy; Islam Ghazi, PharmD, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy; Namrata Grampurohit, PhD, OTR/L , assistant professor of occupational therapy; Jason Heindl, PhD , assistant professor of biological sciences; Madeline King, PharmD, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy; Zhiwei Liu, PhD,  assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, David Logerstedt MPT, PhD, assistant professor of physical therapy; Spandana Makeneni, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow in the chemistry department; Maggie Pearce, PhD, assistant professor of biological sciences; Sarah E. Robertson, PhD, director of sponsored projects and research; Luca Sardo, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow in the department of biological sciences; Sanchita Sen, PharmD, associate professor of clinical pharmacy; Alexander Sidorenko, PhD, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Meg St. Clair, grants specialist in the office of sponsored projects and research; Greg Thielman, PT, MSPT, EdD, associate professor of physical therapy; Michael Yonkunas, PhD, a post-doctoral researcher in the chemistry and biochemistry department; and Chris Janetopoulos, PhD, associate professor of biological sciences.

Categories: News, Faculty, Staff, Research, Academics, USciences, Misher College, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Samson College, Department of Chemistry, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Occupational Therapy, Department of Physical Therapy, Department of Biology