HRI Pilot Grant Awardees
With the support of the Division of Research, the HEALTH Research Institute (HRI) awarded 2 pilot project grants to expand the HRI’s membership and work in the area of basic biomedical science. These proposals were rigorously reviewed by HRI staff and fellows and selected as the top meritorious projects with potential to have a significant impact on health challenges faced by our communities and potential to gain future grant funding from the National Institutes of Health. The FY20 HRI pilot grant awardees are:
Dr. Stacey Gorniak, Associate Professor in the Department of Health & Human Performance and Director of the Center for Neuromotor and Biomechanics Research at the University of Houston College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Dr. Gorniak’s study, titled Functional Cortical Deficits and Cortical Hemodynamic Changes in Minority Older Adults with Type II Diabetes, aims to discover potential sex differences in cognitive-sensorimotor dysfunction and dysfunctional cortical activation during motor tasks in persons with Type II Diabetes (T2D); the contribution of perimenopause, menopause, and testosterone levels to cognitive-sensorimotor dysfunction and dysfunctional cortical activation in T2D; and clarify the role of adiposity and other biomarkers of inflammation in cognitive sensorimotor dysfunction and dysfunctional cortical activation in persons with T2D. The study will collect data from an older adult sample at high risk for vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to better understand the cortical complications of T2D and their causal mechanisms. This project is in collaboration with the UH Departments of Computer Engineering and Psychology.
Dr. John Miller, Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Houston College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Dr. Miller’s study, titled Physical Mechanisms of Prostate Cancer Metabolism, will investigate the physical mechanisms of impaired mitochondrial electron transport of prostate cancer and aims to address two key problems: 1) the lack of diagnostic modalities for early identification of high-risk prostate cancer neoplasms; and 2) the need for metabolic-based therapies for prostate cancers that have become aggressive. This project is part of a collaborative effort that includes the UH Department of Physics, the Center for Bioenergetics at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, and other investigators within the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and College of Engineering.
Since 2016, the HRI has been addressing health challenges faced by our communities by leveraging transdisciplinary team science to provide innovative, empirically-grounded, culturally-informed and community embedded solutions. The selection of basic biomedical science feasibility and proof of concept studies for our pilot research program will help us to strategically achieve this goal while positioning the HRI to pursue Research Center of Excellence funding opportunities. Of note, a second call for applications is planned to be released October 1st, 2019. Visit the HRI website for updates!