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Converse grant to fund biomedical research and training

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Staff Report
Published Nov. 16, 2015

Converse College has received more than $626,000 from the National Institutes of Health to support biomedical research and student training. Converse plans to fund research initiatives, upgrade labs and equipment and expand K-12 outreach.

The funding is part of the agency’s five-year, $18 million Institutional Development Awards grant to South Carolina, in which Converse will partner with other colleges and universities in the state to strengthen biomedical research capacity.

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Furman University previously announced plans to use $1.3 million in new National Institutes of Health funding to provide resources for students and faculty engaged in biomedical research, K-12 outreach and science infrastructure. A Converse partnership with Furman will support sharing of facilities and resources and provide opportunities for research collaboration.

Converse is receiving $247,000 the first year and a minimum of $500,000 over a five-year award period. Chemistry professor Will Case will receive $126,000 for a developmental research project to support his efforts to develop enzyme-based, electrochemical biosensors for detection of a genetic disorder.

Provost Jeff Barker said the Spartanburg college is “ideally positioned to promote achievement by women in the sciences. The grant funding will help us continue our growth in science faculty, facilities, research initiatives, partnerships and outreach programs, all of which serve our growing population of science majors.”

Neval Erturk — chairwoman of biology, chemistry and physics and co-director of the Undergraduate Research Program at the Spartanburg campus — will oversee selection and funding of 15 faculty and 25 undergraduate students. Erturk will also coordinate outreach activities.

Converse’s outreach program, Science and Technology Research Scholars, promotes scientific research careers by pairing high school students with Converse faculty for science and technology projects. High school students are individually mentored by Converse faculty in biology, biochemistry, psychology and computer science. The grant will help expand the program.

The Institutional Development Awards were started to boost research funding in 23 states. The University of South Carolina School of Medicine administers the state’s program in partnership with Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina and other predominantly undergraduate institutions.

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