Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine has received a five-year, $17 million award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for continued funding of West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE).

Now in its 19th year, WV-INBRE has brought more than $71 million in grant support to West Virginia for the purpose of building a solid infrastructure and increased capacity for biomedical research throughout the state. Marshall University serves as the lead institution on this project and works with partner lead West Virginia University and 14 other colleges and universities in West Virginia to implement the initiative.

West Virginia is one of 23 states, along with Puerto Rico, to receive Institutional Development Award (IDeA) funding from NIH for INBRE programming. INBREs enhance biomedical research capacity, expand and strengthen the research capabilities of biomedical faculty and provide access to biomedical resources for promising undergraduate students throughout the eligible states. INBRE puts the IDeA approach into action by enhancing research infrastructure through support of a statewide research development network that links research-intensive institutions with primarily undergraduate institutions.

“Since the start of WV-INBRE we’ve seen a tremendous cultural shift within our undergraduate institutions that now makes biomedical research an important part of the learning environment,” said Gary O. Rankin, Ph.D., vice dean of basic sciences at Marshall’s school of medicine and principal investigator of the award. “Faculty in both undergraduate and professional programs are committed to growing biomedical research programs and introducing students to research opportunities that may help shape their career decisions.”

With Phase 4 renewal funding for WV-INBRE, Marshall University, in partnership with West Virginia University and the WV-INBRE partner institutions, will focus on cellular and molecular biology with an emphasis on chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity-related illness and addiction. It will also establish a collaborative project in ovarian cancer research.

WV-INBRE also provides research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, including a 9-week summer research program, Health Sciences & Technology Academy (HSTA) Scholar initiative and a developmental research project program which helps provide research skill development and serves as a pipeline for these students into health-related research careers. HSTA high school science teachers and partner institution faculty fellows will also be provided summer research opportunities at the lead and network institutions. By providing workshops, seminars, research training and mentoring and access to state-of-the-art core facilities, WV-INBRE will help enhance the science and technology knowledge and skill base of the West Virginia workforce.

“Once high school and college students have a chance to do research, it makes them more competitive to get into graduate, pharmacy and medical school and other professional programs,” Rankin said.

Originally from Sheanna Spence for Marshall University Communications