Study will focus on impacts of agricultural burning in the Delta

by George Jared ([email protected]) 358 views 

Two New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) at Arkansas State University faculty members have received grants that will fund research projects at ASU’s Arkansas Biosciences Institute (ABI) for the next two years.

One of the grants will fund a study by Troy Camarata, Ph.D., assistant professor of basic sciences at NYITCOM at A-State, titled, “Exploring Causative Relationship Between Agricultural Burning and Negative Public Health Outcomes in the Arkansas Delta.” Joe Ford, an associate professor at Arkansas State University, will serve as co-principal investigator on the project.

Additionally, Viswanathan Rajagopalan, Ph.D., assistant professor of basic sciences at NYITCOM at A-State, received a grant that will fund his study titled, “Long Noncoding RNAs in Heart Failure Related to Impaired Thyroid Hormone Function.” A-State graduate assistant Sankalpa Chakraborty will work with Rajagopalan on the project.

The projects will study health issues that are prominent in Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta region. Cardiovascular disease kills more people in Arkansas than any other disease, and Rajagopalan’s study will explore new strategies to treat heart failure. Camarata will explore how air pollution in a major agricultural region where field burning is a common practice impacts the health outcomes of those who live there.

“Both of these studies are extremely important to the people of this region, and we’re incredibly grateful to Arkansas State University for supporting them,” said Rajendram Rajnarayanan, Ph.D., assistant dean for research at NYITCOM at A-State. “These projects will provide invaluable information that is directly relevant to residents of Northeast Arkansas. Further, these grants will also enable our faculty to gather valuable preliminary results to be competitive for major research funding from extramural agencies including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Environmental Protection Agency.”

The grants provide $35,000 a year for the next two years to support the research, and they are funded through Arkansas State University’s portion of the ABI tobacco settlement funds. NYITCOM medical students and Arkansas State University students will be heavily involved in both studies.

“The collaboration between NYIT and A-State continues to bear fruit,” said Tom Risch, Ph.D., A-State’s vice provost for research & technology transfer and executive director of the ABI. “The research of Dr. Camarata is a joint effort with A-State faculty member Joe Ford and will address an important issue related to the health of many in Northeast Arkansas. Dr. Rajagopalan’s research directly supports the PhD research of Sankalpa Chakraborty who is enrolled in A-State’s Molecular Biosciences Program. Without the mentorship of Dr. Rajagopalan, Mr. Chakraborty would not have this opportunity. Thus these research awards directly benefit A-State while benefiting the health of Arkansans, which are core mission of the Arkansas Biosciences Institute.”