Tag Archives: Ohio University

NIH Grant Awarded To OU Medical School Research

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(Athens) – A summer program for undergraduate students who plan to pursue a graduate or medical degree related to diabetes research will be launched at Ohio University in 2023 thanks to support from a prestigious National Institutes of Health Research Education Program (R25) grant. The funding is the result of a collaborative effort by Ohio University researchers at the Diabetes Institute who want to encourage more students to consider a career in diabetes research.

The grant, titled Diabetes Institute Summer Interprofessional Research Experience (DISIRE) for Undergraduates, is a five-year award funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 

The summer program will last 10 weeks, beginning in 2023, and will accept eight to 10 undergraduate students from all over the country. The students will learn valuable research skills, be mentored by OHIO faculty who work in diabetes research, hear from clinicians, take part in online courses, and create a capstone project which they can bring back to their respective universities and implement on those campuses. 

“The students will go through a rigorous program resulting in their gaining insight into the history and pathophysiology of the disease as well as epidemiological, social, and molecular/cellular research efforts directed at uncovering new therapeutic targets and treatments for the variety of problems associated with diabetes,” explained John Kopchick, Ph.D., Goll-Ohio Eminent Scholar, distinguished professor of molecular biology and principal investigator on the grant.

Although Kopchick is leading the program, Elizabeth Beverly, Ph.D., Osteopathic Heritage Foundation Ralph S. Licklider, D.O., Endowed Professor in Behavioral Diabetes, Kevin Lee, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular biology, and Craig Nunemaker, Ph.D., associate professor with a focus in diabetes, are also assisting in various ways as co-investigators.  

The goal of the program is to train undergraduate students in diabetes research and encourage them to apply to graduate and/or medical school and ultimately earn a degree in which diabetes research is a significant segment of their career.  

Beverly said the investigators are interested in recruiting first-generation, Appalachian students. 

“There is a high rate of diabetes and related complications in Appalachia, so the more research that can be done in this area and the more information that comes from researchers located in and originally from the region will only benefit the community here,” Beverly said.

Kopchick, who is originally from Appalachian Pennsylvania, will oversee the program and research. Lee will oversee the biomedical portion of the program, work with schools from the region to help recruit students and ensure the students’ projects can be applied at their respective university. Nunemaker will oversee the mentoring portion of the program and match OHIO faculty in the biomedical sciences, engineering, and other disciplines with students in the program. Beverly will evaluate the grant and program, assure that the students are receiving the educational outcomes that were planned, as well as oversee the capstone projects. 

The grant provides funding for five years. However, with positive outcomes, NIH support for the program could continue. 

The program is open to all undergraduate students in the country who are interested in pursuing a graduate degree that would help those with diabetes, whether that is in basic sciences, social science, medical science, or engineering. Ohio University students, first generation students, students from Appalachia and students from underrepresented communities are encouraged to apply. Applications will be due this fall.

The NIH R25 grant is only awarded to one institution every year and was created to support research education activities that complement and/or enhance the training of a workforce to meet the nation’s biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs. Additionally, the award will hopefully increase the diversity of this workforce and help recruit individuals with specific specialty or disciplinary backgrounds that will evolve into research careers in this field.

Longtime SE Ohio Public Official Honored By Ohio University

Presented By McDonald’s

(Athens) – Ohio University graduate and longtime advocate for Appalachian Ohio John Carey has been awarded the John Whisman “Vision” Award for his work making Appalachian Ohio a better place to live and experience.

The Development District Association of Appalachia gives the Vision Award to individuals who, through intergovernmental cooperation, make Appalachia a better place to live. The award caught Carey by surprise; he wasn’t even aware of the award’s existence when he was told he won it. He was nominated by colleague Jeannette Wierzbicki, executive director of the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association. 

“It feels very humbling, because I’m not the type of person who receives recognition,” Carey said. 

Carey has had a prolific career in Ohio politics since graduating from OHIO’s College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in political science in 1981. He is a longtime public servant who has spent his life advocating for Appalachian Ohio. He has held a variety of offices — from mayor of Wellston to the Ohio House and Senate and chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education — and is currently serving as director of the Governor’s Office of Appalachia for the Appalachian Regional Commission at the appointment of Gov. Mike DeWine. 

The award recognizes Carey’s work in identifying drinking water for residents of Appalachian Ohio, as well as bolstering its tourism economy.

To address the lack of drinking water, in addition to partnering with the Local Development Districts, Ohio EPA, and others, Carey partnered with the Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service’s Jennifer Bowman, director of environmental programs, and Matt Trainer, a data and GIS specialist, to map lack of water access in Ohio. 

“He just asked us a simple question: ‘How many people don’t have access to public water in Appalachian Ohio?’” Bowman said.

Bowman led a team of researchers that mapped access to the 360 water systems that make up Appalachian Ohio and found large parts of the population lacks access to drinking water — well above the national average of 12% who don’t have access to drinking water at the tap.

Carey partnering with Voinovich made studying this issue possible.

“He was awesome, he had the vision of this from the early onset from when we first met with him,” Bowman said. “It became a nice partnership, we really needed each other and the other partners.”

Prior to the research, there was no public information readily available to answer the question.

“We didn’t have a specific way to address that,” Carey said. Their research concluded that for many places in southern Ohio, people simply don’t have access to water at the pipe.

As a native Appalachian, Carey has sought to build southern Ohio’s tourism — not only for the economy, but also to dispel long-held stereotypes and assumptions people hold about Appalachia.

“We get a lot of publicity that is not positive for our region,” Carey said. “Generally, it is not a positive story, and it reinforces stereotypes.”

Instead, he wants to leverage Appalachian Ohio’s natural beauty to attract people from nearby metros to experience Appalachia for themselves. Due to its abundance of state parks, quaint downtowns and local eateries, he believes the region is the perfect, family-oriented getaway.

Carey has partnered with organizations like TourismOhio to increase publicity for Appalachian Ohio and has been a fierce advocate for places like the Hocking Hills State Park and the Baileys Trail System — both of which have received funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Mark Weinberg, founding dean of the Voinovich School and Carey’s former professor, isn’t surprised by his success.

“John has dedicated his career to the people of Appalachian Ohio,” Weinberg said. “Instead of trying to resuscitate the past, he instead identifies areas of untapped potential and looks towards the future. There is no doubt in my mind that John has made Appalachian Ohio a better place for everybody. It would be hard to find a better champion, leader, or person who represents the best of Appalachian Ohio than John.”

Though he has spent four decades advocating for Appalachian Ohio, he continues to look towards the future. As the communities and economies that make up Appalachian Ohio continue to grow and evolve, Carey wants to both preserve the region’s strong cultural heritage, while embracing change by revitalizing downtowns, state parks and historical markers. 

“I believe we are at a crossroads,” he said. “We want to keep what is good about Appalachia and find what is next.”

Ohio University One of Top Transfer-Friendly Schools for 3rd Straight Year

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(Athens) – Ohio University has once again been recognized as one of the top transfer-friendly schools in the nation, being named to the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) 2022 Transfer Honor Roll, which recognizes the development and support of pathways created for the success of community college transfer students. 

“OHIO is committed to providing the support and resources transfer students need to successfully attain a high-quality Ohio University education,” Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs said. “In our partnership with community colleges and university partners across the state and beyond, OHIO’s primary focus is to anticipate, welcome, and support transfer students in every way necessary to achieve their educational goals. It is an honor to once again be recognized by Phi Kappa Theta as one of the nation’s leading transfer-ready schools.” 

Institutions selected for the honor roll were evaluated based on 40 key metrics related to the support and success of transfer students, including cost and financial aid, campus life for transfer students, admission practices and bachelor’s degree completion options. The Transfer Honor Roll is based on data submitted through an institution’s profile on PTK Connect, PTK’s virtual tool that assists students in finding their colleges, career pathways and more. Colleges are given a Transfer Friendliness Rating once they complete their PTK Connect profile, and the honor roll is chosen from among the top 25 percent highest-rated colleges.

This marks the third year in a row OHIO has been recognized, and sixth time overall since 2016. This year, 171 institutions made the list with only six from the state of Ohio.

“From our early innovations in accepting transfer credit to new and ongoing relationships with community college partners, OHIO remains committed to serving and developing pathways that allow transfer students to seamlessly access the Ohio University experience on all our campuses and online. We are proud to be recognized for this honor for the third consecutive year,” Vice President for Enrollment Management Candace Boeninger said.

OHIO offers a myriad of transfer pathways for students to get the OHIO experience. To begin the process of transferring to OHIO, a student must have completed at least nine semester hours or 12 quarter hours at a regionally accredited institution. Then the student decides their desired start date, reviews cost and aid information, submits a transfer application and requests transcripts from their prior institution(s) to be sent to OHIO.

“This award is so important because it is based on what students tell us they need from their transfer experience,” Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, president and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa, said in a release. “We are honored to recognize the colleges and universities working exceptionally hard to create stronger pathways to bachelor’s degree completion for all students.”

Established in 1918, Phi Theta Kappa is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious honors society recognizing students pursuing two-year degrees, with almost 1,300 chapters in 10 countries. More than 3.8 million students have been inducted since PTK was established, with approximately 240,000 active members on college campuses in all 50 states.  

All 2022 Transfer Honor Roll recipients can be viewed on PTK’s website. To learn more about transferring to OHIO, visit the Undergraduate Admissions transfer web page.

Study Challenges Theories of Earlier Human Arrival in Americas

Presented By Ross-Chillicothe Convention & Visitor’s Bureau

(Athens) – A new analysis of archaeological sites in the Americas challenges relatively new theories that the earliest human inhabitants of North America arrived before the migration of people from Asia across the Bering Strait.

Led by University of Wyoming Professor Todd Surovell and colleagues from Wyoming, Ohio University, and four other institutions, the analysis suggests that misinterpretation of archaeological evidence at certain sites in North and South America might be responsible for theories that humans arrived long before 13,000-14,200 years ago.

The researchers’ findings appear today in PLOS One, a journal published by the Public Library of Science. The paper is the latest development in the debate over the peopling of the Americas, in which some are now questioning the long-held consensus that the first Americans were hunter-gatherers who entered North America from Asia via the Beringia land bridge up to 14,200 years ago, then dispersed southward between two large glaciers that then covered much of the continent.

The conclusions of Surovell and colleagues are based on an analysis of buried archaeological deposits, using a new statistic called the Apparent Stratigraphic Integrity Index they developed. While the stratigraphic integrity of early archaeological sites in Alaska is high — producing strong evidence in support of unambiguous human occupation — the sites in more southern locations pointing to possible earlier human occupation show signs of artifact mixing among multiple time periods.

“If humans managed to breach the continental ice sheets significantly before 13,000 years ago, there should be clear evidence for it in the form of at least some stratigraphically discrete archeological components with a relatively high artifact count. So far, no such evidence exists,” Surovell and colleagues wrote. “(Our) findings support the hypothesis that the first human arrival to the New World occurred by at least 14,200 years ago in Beringia and by approximately 13,000 years ago in the temperate latitudes of North America. Strong evidence for human presence before those dates has yet to be identified in the archaeological record.”

Specifically, the new analysis compared the stratigraphic integrity of three sites argued to contain evidence of earlier human occupation — two in Texas and one in Idaho — with the integrity of sites in Alaska, Wyoming and Pennsylvania. The three sites claimed to be older than 13,000 years ago all showed patterns of significant mixing, while the others did not.

Ohio University Associate Professor of Anthropology Joseph Gingerich in the College of Arts and Sciences, who excavated one of the best-preserved sites in study, said, “Even the best-preserved sites show signs of disturbance. Artifacts often move around through a number of different natural processes. Our study really shows that much more detailed artifact and spatial analyses are needed at these purported early sites.”

The researchers were unable to obtain detailed information about some other sites in North and South America purported to contain evidence of human occupation before 13,000 years ago.

“Sites claimed to be older than 13,000 years ago are few, and data supporting their status as sites have been poorly disseminated,” Surovell and colleagues wrote. “Given the status of available data regarding these sites, we must question whether there are any sites in the Americas south of the ice sheets that exhibit an unambiguous and stratigraphically discrete cultural occupation with sufficient numbers of artifacts of clear human manufacture.”

The paper doesn’t completely rule out the possibility that humans colonized the Americas at an earlier date. “But if they did, they should have produced stratigraphically discrete occupation surfaces, some of which would be expected to have large numbers of artifacts.

“That they did so in Beringia but failed to do so south of the continental glaciers suggests that either there was something fundamentally different about pre-Clovis human behavior and/or geomorphology south of the ice sheets, or that the evidence indicating the presence of humans south of the ice sheets has been misinterpreted,” the researchers wrote. “At a minimum, it shows that when stratigraphically discrete occupations are not present, additional studies must be performed to demonstrate that stratigraphic integrity of association between artifacts and dated strata exist.”

Joining Surovell in the research were UW colleagues Sarah Allaun, Robert Kelly, Marcel Kornfeld and Mary Lou Larson; Wyoming State Archaeologist Spencer Pelton; Barbara Crass and Charles Holmes, of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks; Gingerich, of Ohio University and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History; Kelly Graf, of Texas A&M University; and Kathryn Krasinski and Brian Wygal, of Adelphi University.