To help support Meharry Medical College's minority research enterprise, the National Center for Research Resources, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced Thursday that it will provide $21.4 million over the next five years to the college.
Funding will benefit the entire institution and will be used to establish the Meharry Clinical and Translational Research Center (MeTRC) to further health disparities research already underway, according to Meharry.
The award, which comes via NCRR’s Research Centers in Minority Institutions Clinical and Translational Research program, is the largest NIH grant received in the Meharry’s history.
MeTRC is a “center without walls” comprised of the Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research, the Center for Women’s Health Research and the Participant and Clinical Interactions Resource. Under the MeTRC umbrella, doctors and scientists at Meharry Medical College will conduct health disparities research needed to take a basic discovery and use it to create new diagnostic tests or new drugs to help eliminate the disparities.
“Meharry has an exemplary record of addressing health disparities that disproportionally affect those from disadvantaged backgrounds in the Tennessee region as well as nationwide,” said NCRR Director Barbara Alving, M.D. “The RCTR program can help Meharry researchers build on existing strengths that can be further developed to advance health preventions, treatments and cures.”
MeTRC allows researchers to share information and resources that will help expedite the process of finding new and innovative medical treatments, treatments which can be further “individualized” or “personalized” to be safer and more effective, according to Russell E. Poland, Ph.D., vice president for Research at Meharry Medical College.
“We know that African-Americans are disproportionately affected by diseases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, and HIV/AIDS,” said Wayne J. Riley, M.D., MBA, MPH, MACP, President and Chief Executive Officer of Meharry Medical College. “MeTRC paves the way for researchers to determine why these disparities exist and to find new treatments that will close the gap. With this grant from the NIH, Meharry will be able to establish a national model for health disparities research making us a global leader in this area.”
Ayman Al-Hendy, M.D., Ph.D., and James E.K. Hildreth, M.D., Ph.D. will serve as the principal investigators on this institutional grant. Dr. Al-Hendy, a gynecologist, a researcher and an expert in women’s health issues, and Dr. Hildreth, a researcher and an expert in HIV and AIDS research, will oversee MeTRC research activities at Meharry Medical College.
North Nashville's Meharry Medical College is the nation’s largest private, independent, historically black academic health center dedicated solely to educating minority and other health professionals. True to its heritage, it is a United Methodist Church affiliated institution.