Savannah State Receives $4 million Grant Award

Dr. Mary C. Wyatt, vice president for Academic Affairs at SSU; and Dr. Chellu Chetty, associate vice president for Research and Sponsored Programs at SSU
Dr. Mary C. Wyatt, vice president for Academic Affairs at SSU; and Dr. Chellu Chetty, associate vice president for Research and Sponsored Programs at SSU

Savannah State University was awarded a $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a five-year project that will strengthen the university’s research capacity and infrastructure to promote minority health and eliminate health disparities.

The grant was awarded through NIH’s National Center for Minority Health Disparities (NCMHD) through the Research Infrastructure for Minority Institutions (RIMI) program, which provides resources to strengthen faculty-initiated research programs while improving the potential for future research scientists.

“This is the largest research grant received in the history of SSU,” said Chellu Chetty, Ph.D., associate vice president for Research and Sponsored Programs who will oversee implementation of the grant project. RIMI support will build the research capacity of SSU’s junior faculty, enhance the biomedical research program by establishing a Health Disparities Shared Research Resources Laboratory, enhance academic and experiential opportunities for students and sustain community partnerships and effective community outreach to link SSU public health research to Savannah area health needs and policy. Ultimately, Savannah State will be better prepared to meet the requirements for more advanced NCMHD research grants to engage in ongoing health disparity research and education. All of this will form a solid foundation for a dedicated SSU Center for Health Disparities Research, which is a long-term goal of the project.

“This money’s going to do a whole lot of good for folks right here in Savannah, and not just here but everywhere that health care disparities exist. Savannah State is a top notch institution, and with grants like this one it will keep getting better,” said U.S. Congressman John Barrow of Georgia’s 12th District, who was one of many guests attending a campus reception on Jan. 28 to celebrate receipt of the grant funds.

The program will be implemented by a team of faculty members from various academic disciplines in collaboration with Mercer University School of Medicine at its Savannah campus. Other collaborating partners include Chatham Orthopedic Associates, City of Savannah Recreation Services, Chatham County Anderson/Cohen Weight Lifting Center Harvard Medical School, Georgetown University Medical Center, Clemson University and Auburn University.

“As an HBCU and a community leader in a region with large representation by underrepresented minorities, both African American and Hispanic, Savannah State is committed to engaging in meaningful research programs that address relevant public issues,” said SSU President Earl G. Yarbrough Sr., Ph.D. “Reducing and ultimately eliminating health disparities is a significant public health issue that has social and economic implications.”

For Chetty, the $4 NIH grant award was a major achievement professionally and personally. “When I joined the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs 10 years ago, my goal was to increase external funding from $4 million to $10 million annually within 10 years,” he said. During the 2009-2010 academic year, Savannah State will receive approximately $10 million in annual funds for 37 research grants. In the first half of this academic year, the College of Sciences and Technology has received $14 million for the next five years.

Established in 1890, Savannah State University is on the move to become the best value-added university in the nation.

The university’s approximately 3,800 students are enrolled in 23 undergraduate degree majors and five graduate programs in three colleges: Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Business Administration and Sciences and Technology.

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