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NIH awards Furman $1.3 million in funding to support biomedical research

Furman University will use $1.3 million in new funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide resources for students and faculty engaged in biomedical research, K-12 outreach and science infrastructure.

The NIH fundindg will provide resources for Furman students and faculty engaged in biomedical research

The NIH fundindg will provide resources for Furman students and faculty engaged in biomedical research

The funding is part of a five-year, $18 million NIH award to South Carolina, where Furman will partner with colleges and universities across the state in an effort to strengthen the Palmetto State’s biomedical research capacity.

Under the SC IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (SC INBRE III) award, Furman will receive $390,000 in research funding in the first year and a minimum of $1.3 million over the five-year award period. Furman has been a partner institution since the inception of the SC INBRE program in 2005, and, by the conclusion of the new award, will have received more than $5 million in support of faculty-student research and outreach.

In order to build research capacity, the NIH Institutional Development Awards (IDeA) program provides resources to 23 states that have traditionally received low levels of federal research funding to build research capacity. The University of South Carolina School of Medicine administers the state program in partnership with Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina and nine competitively-selected predominantly undergraduate institutions.

Dr. John Wheeler, Director of Furman’s Office of Integrative Research in the Sciences, will serve as the local Principal Investigator/Institutional Director of the Furman program and oversee the selection and funding of 25 faculty and 55 undergraduate students.  All will participate in biomedically-related undergraduate research across multiple disciplines, including Biology, Chemistry, Health Sciences, Neuroscience and Psychology.

In addition, two Furman biology professors—Dr. Renee Chosed and Dr. Jason Rawlings—have been selected through statewide competition as recipients of target faculty awards under the SC-INBRE III Developmental Research Program. Each will receive in excess of $75,000 in direct support for their research efforts during the first year of the award, with the opportunity for renewal in subsequent years.

Dr. Renee Chosed

Dr. Renee Chosed

Dr. Chosed’s lab uses yeast to model mixed-lineage leukemia, wherein genetically modified yeast strains are developed to express human proteins involved in this type of cancer. By taking this approach, the disease can be more easily studied without the need to work with much more complex human cancer cells.

Dr. Rawlings also works in the field of immunology, investigating the mechanism that controls the activation and proliferation of T lymphocytes during an immune response. His work has broad applicability to disease states involving immune cells including cancer, autoimmunity and immunodeficiency.

Dr. Jason Rawlings

Dr. Jason Rawlings

Under the new award, Dr. John Kaup, Furman’s Coordinator of Science Education, will direct and manage the network–wide SC INBRE III Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program, enabling INBRE supported researchers to directly engage teachers in their local community through in-depth six-week research opportunities.  RET participants—35 teachers in total—will translate their summer research experiences into modules that will allow them to expose high school students to biomedical research area, principles and methods.

A unique feature of the SC INBRE III award is the formal partnership that has been established between Furman and Converse College. This partnership will enable the sharing of facilities, resources and experiences and serve to provide enhanced access to equipment holdings, stimulate novel opportunities for research collaboration and encourage new avenues for proposal development.  Collectively, these two institutions will receive over $2 million in NIH funds.

For more information, contact Furman professor John Wheeler at 864-294-3371 or

Last updated October 22, 2015
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director