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Two Teams Awarded 2019 Collaborative Health Disparities Research Awards


Two teams of multistate investigators have been awarded the 2019 Collaborative Research Network (CORNET) Awards in Health Disparities Research. The CORNET Awards in Health Disparities Research were created to stimulate innovative, interdisciplinary, team-based health disparities research that involves researchers from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), Tulane University, and the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). The purpose of the awards is to give seed funding, up to $75,000 per project, to collaborative research teams working to combat regional health inequities faced by those living in the Delta South.

”The Tennessee Clinical and Translational Science Institute at UTHSC is focused on combating health disparities experienced by people living in the Delta region of the United States,” said Steven R. Goodman, PhD, vice chancellor for Research at UTHSC. “With our partners at Tulane University and UMMC, we are utilizing the CORNET Awards to stimulate the creation of new innovative and collaborative research programs to address the disproportionate health problems experienced by the socially disadvantaged, related to race, ethnicity or economics, living in our region.”

The 2019 CORNET Awards in Health Disparities Research winners and their project titles are:

  • “Role of Extracellular Vesicles in HPV-Induced HIV Pathogenesis” by Santosh Kumar, PhD, (UTHSC); Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-Bc, FAANP, (UTHSC); Crystal Walker, PhD, DNP, FNP-C, (UTHSC); Carolann Risley, PhD, MSN, (UMMC); and William Robinson, MD, (Tulane). The project aims to investigate the biological interactions between HPV and HIV infected cells in an effort to address how and why HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects African Americans, especially in the southern Delta region.
  • “Cardiometabolic Risk and Aggressive Prostate Cancer in African-American and White Men: The Delta Cancer Research Consortium” by Jay H. Fowke, PhD, MPH, MS, (UTHSC); Lydia A. Bazzano, MD, PhD, FACP, FACN, CIP, (Tulane); and Christian Gomez, PhD, (UMMC). This project aims to determine the link between cardiometabolic risk factors and the disproportionate rate of prostate cancer in African American men, and to develop methods to harmonize findings across studies.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the southern United States has the largest minority population with heightened levels of poverty and health disparities. In 2018, the research leadership at UTHSC, UMMC, and Tulane developed the CORNET Awards in Health Disparities to address the most-pressing health needs of these underserved populations in the Mississippi Delta region through high-quality, interdisciplinary team-based clinical and translational research. The 2019 grants mark the second round of this CORNET Award.

Launched in 2016, the CORNET Awards were established to foster collaborative partnerships between researchers across Memphis, Tennessee, various regional and global academic institutions, and industry partners. To date, the CORNET Awards program has provided more than $1.66 million in funding to teams of researchers, giving rise to over $14.3 million in extramural funding.

To learn more about the CORNET Awards, please visit https://www.uthsc.edu/research/development/intramural-funding/cornet-awards.php.