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Furman awarded $1.2 million for biomedical research

The Charles H. Townes Science Center houses all of the science departments at Furman.

New biomedical research awards put Furman students and faculty on the leading edge of work that ripples far beyond its campus.

With the goal of increasing biomedical research capacity in states where it is most needed, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) funds such research in South Carolina through South Carolina IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (SC INBRE), a statewide multi-million dollar, five-year renewable grant program.

Furman has been awarded approximately $1.2 million for the 2020-2025 period. It was part of the initial SC INBRE network, which now includes 13 member and four outreach institutions throughout the state.

“Furman has been competitively funded under this award since 2005,” said John Wheeler, associate provost for integrative science and professor of chemistry. “It funds supplies and travel for undergraduate research, summer student and faculty stipends, and opportunities for secondary science teachers. Beyond that, it provides opportunities in state for faculty at Furman to compete for an additional pool of money that is provided for a variety of subgrants.”

John Wheeler, John Wheeler, associate provost for integrative science and professor of chemistry.

Without Furman’s status as an INBRE institution, faculty members would not have the opportunity to compete for Project Program subgrants, which are in addition to the institutional award.

Furman’s INBRE institutional award supports a variety of programs, including faculty fellow awards and faculty and student research.

John Kaup, Furman’s director of science education, said the funding helps Furman faculty become independent researchers, whether they are new faculty members or they are branching out in a new area.

“It is providing the opportunity for them to carry their research forward and advancing it to a level where they are capable of competing for individual research awards,”said Kaup.

John Kaup, Furman’s director of science education.

INBRE funding from the 2015-2020 award also introduced a K-12 outreach component that is multiplying its effect across South Carolina’s classrooms. Kaup manages the SC Research Experiences for Teachers program.

“It reaches out throughout the state to encourage teachers who are interested in pursuing a summer six-week research experience at an institution in their local area,” he said. “They’re really doing exactly what an undergraduate student would do, for a shorter period of time.”

In addition, Kaup works with the teacher to translate that summer experience into curriculum lessons for the upcoming academic year. Teachers are also provided funding to deliver that curriculum in their school.

Teachers complete 200 hours of work over the summer, bringing a new hands-on perspective to their classrooms.

With an additional $251,000 in funding support beyond the parent award, Furman’s 2020-2021 Project Program grant recipients include:

  • Sri Chandrasekaran, assistant professor of biology, and Linnea Freeman, assistant professor of biology, were each awarded grants under the Developmental Research Project Program (DRP). DRP fosters faculty research and provides research training to students or postdoctoral fellows in the biomedical sciences.
  • Sri Chandrasekaran, assistant professor of biology also received an NIH NIGMS P20 collaboration award.  She will collaborate with Lukasz Kozubowski (from Clemson University) to further broaden her research and the research opportunities for her students.
  • Research by Professor of Biology Pamela Hanson is one of only three Bioinformatics Pilot Project Program projects in South Carolina for the 2020 – 2021 award period.
  • Lauren Jones ’22 and Brenna Outten ’22 and their mentor, George Shields, professor of chemistry, received funding for their project under Student-Initiated Research Program, a new program designed to enrich the academic experience of students and to bettr prepare the future generation of researchers, investigators, and entrepreneurs throughout the SC INBRE network.





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