Shenandoah University Awarded First-Ever NIH Grant

Shenandoah University Awarded First-Ever NIH Grant

NIH grant will aid the university and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) researchers in their desire to address the issue of infant mortality in Winchester City, Frederick and Page counties.

Shenandoah University has received its first-ever National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant. The grant will aid Shenandoah University and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) researchers in their desire to address the issue of infant mortality in three Virginia localities – Winchester City, Frederick and Page counties. 

“It is quite an honor to have the National Institutes of Health recognize the vital importance of such a project and fund this effort to combine university research with local community participation,” said Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Calvin Allen, Ph.D. “I’m very pleased that two of Shenandoah’s highly- committed faculty members have contributed their energy and expertise to developing this partnership initiative.”

Assistant Professor of Public Health Audra Gollenberg, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology Kim Fendley, Ph.D., and Health Director of the Lord Fairfax Health District Dr. Charles Devine will direct the community-based participatory research project, focusing on collaborating with health-focused community organizations, trusted community members and peer leaders of traditionally underrepresented communities. 

“This project is aimed at understanding the complex factors that influence infant mortality and providing health education to individuals in the local community,” said Dr. Gollenberg. “We’re delighted to have this support, and are excited to begin engaging community groups to address an issue that is at the forefront of public health challenges.”

By sharing and maximizing resources as well as pooling talent, expertise and resources, the group hopes to effect positive change in the local community and foster healthier families and babies. Their goal is to determine best practices in addressing infant mortality in varying community contexts, provide workshops on community-identified health topics to community members, and ultimately design an intervention program that fosters collaboration between community groups, VDH and Shenandoah University. 

The three-year research project, “An Academic-Community Partnership to Reduce Health Disparities in Infant Mortality,” is supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health (Award Number R13HD075496). Funds awarded for the project total $87,647.