Higher Education Grants or Gifts of Interest to African Americans

Here is this week’s news of grants or gifts to historically Black colleges and universities or for programs of particular interest to African Americans in higher education.

Historically Black Alabama A&M University has been awarded a five-year, $2,830,000 grant from the National Nuclear Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy. The grant program is being led by Stephen Babalola, an assistant professor of physics at the university. The funds will provide training to students in the discovery and development of novel radiation detection materials, crystal growth, Improvement of materials through characterization, radiation detector devices development, radio nuclide sampling, and Monte-Carlo simulation of radiation interaction. Outreach programs to K-12 education will also be funded by the grant.

Auburn University in Alabama received a $791,808 grant from the American Cancer Society to continue research into identifying and studying genetic factors associated with hereditary breast cancer in the African American community. The research is under the direction of Nancy Merner, an assistant professor in the department of pathobiology in the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Merner and her team have conducted gene sequencing and identified protein-truncating variants, or PTVs, specific to African Americans that appear to increase inherited breast cancer risk. “We plan to identify these PTVs associated with breast cancer among African Americans and study how they increase risk,” Dr. Merner said.

Langston University, the historically Black educational institution in Oklahoma, received the largest gift in its history from alumnus Sherman Lewis snd his wife Berniece. The university will rename its School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences in honor of Sherman Lewis. The gift will also create the Sherman and Berniece Lewis Endowment, earmarked for the school and to support its students. Lewis started several different lines of businesses in Houston, Texas, including, quick service restaurants, construction project management, real estate, wholesale and retail gas distribution, and a Mexican restaurant in downtown Houston.

Virginia Commonwealth University has been awarded a $2.4 million grant from the National Institution of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health for a study on racial disparities in surgical pain. Researcher state that the pain of Black patients continues to be underdiagnosed and undertreated. They hope to identify exactly what triggers disruptions in patient/provider communication, at which behavioral level, by whom and in what sequence.

The College of Pharmacy at historically Black Howard University in Washington, D.C., has been awarded $1.3 million in grants by the National Institutes of Health to study complex drug therapy problems related to battling two diseases that disproportionately impact African Americans: triple-negative breast cancer and HIV/AIDS. The research will be under the direction of Emmanuel O. Akala, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the university. Dr. Akala received his bachelor’s of pharmacy degree from the University of Ife in Nigeria. He earned his doctoral degree from the University of Manchester in England.

Historically Black Alcorn State University in Mississippi received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support the university’s Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center. Program funds will be used to conduct policy research to make recommendations to USDA programs and services that impact minority farmers and ranchers and to increase their participation.

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