Kennesaw State awarded NIH grant to enhance biomedical research and diversity

KENNESAW, Ga. | Jun 2, 2021


Kennesaw State University has been awarded a three-year, $809,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to strengthen the University’s research and diversity infrastructures in the biomedical fields.

The Office of Research will manage this institutional grant, which comes from the Sponsored Programs Administration Development (SPAD) program administered by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences on behalf of NIH. The purpose of the SPAD program is to increase the productivity of sponsored programs activities to enhance biomedical research and/or research training.

Vice President for Research Phaedra Corso explained that the grant funding gives Kennesaw State the opportunity to address the lack of diverse representation in the biomedical workforce while building capacity for a sustainable interdisciplinary research infrastructure and culture.

“Securing this significant grant builds upon the diversity and inclusion initiatives that already are a priority at Kennesaw State,” Corso said. “Being able to use this funding for a dual purpose – to promote underrepresented minority faculty and students in biomedical research and to strengthen the sponsored programs infrastructure – is a significant milestone in our growth as a formidable R2 institution.”

A recent strategic planning initiative at KSU identified several interdisciplinary themes, including biomedical and health sciences, as top priorities for the University. The other themes are computing and technology; human development and well-being; and sustainable and safe communities.

“For all interdisciplinary themes, it is no coincidence that our biomedical and health services colleges play a leading role,” Corso said. “Thus, our funded SPAD at KSU program is timed and aligned with increasing institutional commitment to biomedical research congruent with the themes, as well as improving our already-outstanding record of including students in research.”

There are three components of the award that will be handled by different units within the Office of Research, addressing faculty and student endeavors within the research enterprise as well as internal frameworks and external collaborations.

The first aim focuses on developing faculty and student capacity for conducting research, which will be led by the Office of Research Development and Strategic Initiatives. Activities include developing a faculty mentorship program and offering designated programming for new and mid-level faculty.

Student initiatives include expanding the First-Year Scholars Program to target underrepresented minority biomedical students and working with colleges in providing ongoing professional development and support to graduate research assistants and their faculty mentors.

The Office of Sponsored Programs Administration will handle the second aim. Activities include grant proposal editing services and grant writing seminars and workshops for faculty and increasing professional development for research administration staff.

Additionally, a cross-disciplinary network will be created for the Research Advisory Committee (RAC), associate/assistant deans of research who serve as counsel to the Office of Research, and the diversity liaisons from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The diversity liaisons are composed of faculty from each college who serve as a resource to deans on recruitment, retention and progression of underrepresented minority faculty and students, among other issues related to diversity on campus.

The last aim focuses on developing competitiveness in biomedical research at KSU with the Office of Intellectual Property Development taking the lead.

“We’re excited about this institutional grant, and it has encouraged us to consider other institutional grants in this same area,” said Corso. “We have plans to submit several more institutional grant proposals to the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health in the next 12 months.”

Joëlle Walls

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit