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5 UMCP-UMB Research Teams Awarded $500K in Grants to Address COVID-19

September 25, 2020 Communication

COVID-19 swab

MPower projects to focus on testing, vaccines, telehealth, health communications.

By Mary Therese Phelan | Maryland Today

Five teams of researchers from the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Baltimore are splitting nearly $500,000 in seed grants to respond to the challenges of COVID-19 in Maryland and beyond.

Projects will focus on new vaccines and therapies, affordable testing for the disease, how to encourage vaccine acceptance among people most at risk from the virus, and artificial intelligence-supported telehealth, the MPowering the State initiative announced today. MPower is a strategic collaboration that highlights and combines the strengths of both institutions for the good of Marylanders.

“This pandemic is not just a medical crisis; it’s a complex human crisis, which requires a multidisciplinary response,” said Roger J. Ward, UMB interim provost and executive vice president and dean of UMB’s Graduate School. “We knew that tapping the power of the strategic partnership would bring together top thinkers from all of the areas of our expertise in medicine and public health, as well as in the social and behavioral sciences, policy and law.”

The selected teams consist of faculty from UMCP’s College of Arts and Humanities, School of Public Health and College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, partnering with researchers from UMB’s schools of medicine, pharmacy and nursing.

“Through MPower, we can bring together our significant and complementary research strengths to respond to this public health crisis,” said UMCP Provost and Senior Vice President Mary Ann Rankin, who also serves on the Joint Steering Council that selected the grant awardees from 50 applications. “Our goal is to harness our collective faculty expertise to accelerate critical research that will reduce the impact of COVID-19.”

The projects are:

“Predicting and Improving COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance Among African Americans during the Coronavirus Pandemic” received $98,432 to help understand why African Americans, who suffer disproportionately from the adverse health and economic impact of the pandemic, might accept or reject the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine. The goal is to develop and evaluate communication messages that could be used in a broader health promotion effort to improve COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among African Americans. The findings will help address COVID-19 health disparities and inform pandemic vaccine communication across ethnic and racial groups. The team includes:

  • Xiaoli Nan, professor of communication and director, Center for Health and Risk Communication at UMCP;
  • Sandra Quinn, professor and chair, Department of Family Science, and senior associate director, Maryland Center for Health Equity at UMCP;
  • Clement Adebamowo, professor, epidemiology and public health, Institute of Human Virology, and associate director of the Population Science Program, Marlene & Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center at UMB;
  • Shana Ntiri, assistant professor, family and community medicine, and medical director of the Baltimore City Cancer Program, Marlene & Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Read more in Maryland Today.

Photo by Stephanie Cordle.