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Wayne State awards $1.8 million to enhance multidisciplinary research

June 20, 2013

DETROIT — Wayne State University’s Office of the Vice President for Research today announced two research awards totaling $1.8 million in the Multidisciplinary Research Group Incubator Program (MRGIP), an internal funding program at the university. 

The seed-funding program is aimed at fostering the development of multidisciplinary research groups with significant growth potential for external funding through centers of excellence grant programs, program project grants or similar multidisciplinary grants. 

The first three-year grant, with an anticipated total of $900,000, was awarded to James Granneman, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences and director of the Center for Integrative Metabolic and Endocrine Research in Wayne State’s School of Medicine, and Sylvie Naar-King, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Obesity Research and Education in Wayne State’s School of Medicine. The grant, “WSU Diabetes Obesity Team Science,” will focus on addressing the challenges of obesity-related diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. 

Granneman and Naar-King’s grant aims to expand existing collaborations and identify new synergies that will lead to additional grant applications across the spectrum of basic and translational research in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, with the goal of reducing obesity and metabolic disease. In addition, the team will work to advance the science of team science, education, training and the institutional reputation of Wayne State in this field of research.

“Drs. Granneman and Naar-King will pair up to focus on research in the critical area of obesity-related diseases, all of which are growing epidemics that affect the urban community Wayne State serves,” said Gloria Heppner, Ph.D., associate vice president for research at Wayne State.  “Their work will make an impact on the community of Detroit by not only increasing our understanding of the etiology of obesity, but also the individual differences in the health burden of obesity.”

The second three-year grant with an anticipated total of $900,000 was awarded to Melissa Runge-Morris, M.D., director of WSU’s Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and Bengt Arnetz, Ph.D., deputy director of family medicine in Wayne’s School of Medicine. The grant, “Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors (CURES),” aims to address the need to develop environmental health leadership and capacity, as well as equip the next generation of environmental health scientists with the necessary skills to identity, evaluate and mitigate environmental health challenges. 

“Drs. Runge-Morris and Arnetz will lead this cutting-edge environmental health research project, which will make a significant impact not only in Detroit, but in urban areas around the United States,” said Heppner. “This project will have an important community engagement component led by Dr. Peter Lichtenberg, director of Wayne’s Institute of Gerontology and Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute. This team of experts has the potential to improve the health and economic vitality of Detroit, and serve as a model for other cities experiencing environmental stress.”

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Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research institutions in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu.