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DSU receives largest grant in its history to develop Center for Health Equity Research

Milton Pratt
Delaware Public Media

Delaware State University has received the largest research grant in school history from the National Institutes of Health to create a Health Equity Research Center.

The $18.36 million grant — provided through the NIH Research Centers in Minority Institutions Program — will enable the research center to draw from a cross-section of the departments when assessing and developing interventions for health disparities across Delaware, including the disproportionately high infant mortality rate among Black Delawareans and chronic illnesses related to air and water quality in low-income communities statewide.

It will also fund some ongoing research, including efforts to develop low-cost treatments for breast cancer.

DSU President Tony Allen, who also serves as chair of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, says the grant reflects a new federal push to develop research capacities at HBCUs.

“One of our four priorities is a commitment that more HBCUs should get their fair share of federal grant opportunities," he said, "particularly for work that disproportionately affects people of color.”

The grant will also allow DSU to hire additional researchers specializing in public health disparities of particular relevance in Delaware – especially the state’s overdose crisis. Community-level health disparities in Kent and Sussex Counties will be the center’s priority.

DSU Director of the Center for Neighborhood Revitalization and Research Dr. Dorothy Dillard says the grant also provides funding to recruit researchers focused on the state’s most pressing public health crises, such as the overdose crisis.

“Those kinds of substance abuse related, opioid crisis-related disparities that we see in our underserved communities – those will emerge as priorities, and that will inform our recruitment," she said.

DSU’s research grant portfolio has roughly doubled since 2016; in total, that portfolio contains roughly $45 million.

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.