The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University announced a $100,000 program to support network physicians and researchers working to develop novel treatments for some of the most costly and challenging diseases and conditions including diabetes, depression and epilepsy.
The newly launched Research Pilot Project Funding Program is supported by the school’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies, Hackensack Meridian Health’s Office of Research, and the Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation.
The six projects selected will be seeded with more than $100,000 in total to help the scientists generate preliminary investigative results to prepare applications for competitive federal and foundation awards.
“This is a program intended to jump-start promising research,” said Ihor Sawczuk, M.D., FACS, president of Hackensack Meridian Health’s Northern Market, and the chief research officer of the network. “With investment into new ideas, we expect to see big returns farther downstream.”
“We are happy to be supporting the beginnings of these scientific projects which may soon make a difference in the lives of patients,” said Helen A. Cunning, president and chief development officer of the Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation.
Four of the six projects will receive $20,000, with one receiving $19,500 and the sixth receiving approximately $9,000 to carry out the scope of their work. All are overseen by principal investigators who are faculty members of the medical school, and who have made the case that preliminary data could support a competitive extramural grant application within a year of this funding.
“We are telling these researchers that we support their projects and vision,” said Stanley R. Terlecky, Ph.D., associate dean of Research and Graduate Students, and chair of Medical Sciences at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University. “Now we want them to collect their data, grow their research programs – and use the results as a springboard for even greater support. We hope to do this every year.”
The recipients are: Saba Afzal, M.D., in the Department of Psychiatry, to investigate saffron versus SSRI as an augmentation therapy for adults with mild to moderate depression; Michael Carson, M.D., Department of Medicine, for finding ways to improve detection of postpartum dysglycemia in women with gestational diabetes; Steven Ghanny, M.D., Department of Pediatrics, to employ a novel assay and genetic factors to study patients with steroid refractory acute graft-versus-host disease; Chinwe Ogedegbe, M.D., MPH, the section chief of Emergency and Trauma Center Research at Hackensack Meridian Health, to investigate a pilot program for smoking cessation in the Emergency Department; Linda Siracusa, Ph.D., Department of Medical Sciences, studying a new investigative model of adult-onset epilepsy; and Michelle Titunick, Ph.D., also in Medical Sciences at the school, investigating what effects vitamin D supplements have on fracture repair in Type 1 diabetes disease models.
“These are terrific projects, and we are glad to give them a boost,” said Bonita Stanton, M.D., the founding dean of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University. “We always look to foster the abundant talent we have right here at the school and across the health network.”
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