During the first four years of the Grant, the CTR-IN Program invested $4.62M to fund 69 single investigator Pilot Grants, which have now resulted in 27 extramural awards totaling almost $37M in extramural funding for an 800% return on investment. Eight of the initial 69 pilot grants went to UNLV.
“Faculty members ability to secure such a large amount of extramural funding demonstrates the difference the CTR-IN is making at the participating universities,” Kumar said. “It’s spurring further research infrastructure development, which is one of our major objectives of this grant.”
Poston said the initial pilot grant allowed him to develop the data necessary to secure a larger grant involving multiple subjects. He is exploring how low levels of electrical stimulation may contribute to improved motor performance in people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease of the nervous system marked by tremor, muscular rigidity, and slow, imprecise movement, chiefly affecting middle-aged and elderly people. It is associated with degeneration of the basal ganglia of the brain and a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
An electrical engineer at the University of Wyoming also used a pilot grant to spawn further research. His initial grant of $68,500 morphed into a research grant of $448,000 to improve driver attention spans
research with a goal of reducing motor vehicle accidents.
Funding for the projects comes from the National Institutes of Health Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Center of Biomedical Research Excellence. The IDeA program builds research capacities in states that historically have had low levels of NIH funding by supporting basic, clinical and translational research; faculty development; and infrastructure improvements.
“As an academic medical center, the UNLV School of Medicine has as part of its mission the carrying out of research that improves lives,” said Dr. Barbara Atkinson, founding dean of the medical school. “We’re proud that Dr. Kumar was able to play a key role in the renewal of UNLV’s largest research grant. At UNLV, we believe knowledge can be derived from questioning the status quo, discovering more about illnesses and disorders and using that knowledge to improve the health of our community.”
Kumar was appointed principal investigator of the Mountain West CTR-IN program on April 1, 2016 after about two-thirds of the initial grant had been completed. He assembled a team to make it more competitive for grant renewal. That included changing the program’s strategic direction by focusing on health disparities, eliminating programs that were not effective and initiating new programs such as multi-site pilot projects.
UNLV and it’s partner universities share resources and expertise, including biostatistical and administrative support, as well as mentorship and educational opportunities that encourage additional research.
The initial 5-year grant was awarded to UNLV in 2013. This renewal will continue funding through 2023.
UNLV is the host university for the CTR-IN, meaning the university is responsible not only for ensuring that the primary research objectives are met, but for fiscally managing and administering the grant as well. Partner institutions include University of Alaska – Anchorage, University of Alaska – Fairbanks, University of Hawaii – Manoa, Boise State University, Idaho State University, University of Idaho, Montana State University, University of Montana, University of Nevada Reno, New Mexico State University, University of New Mexico, University of Wyoming.