Second Round Awarded Proposals

Posted On April 23, 2013
Categories Proposals
The Department of Economics, the Institute of Public Health (IPH), and the Department of Sociology propose a three position cluster hire in the areas of health policy, health disparities, and risky behaviors to build upon the 2011 arrival of the Atlanta Census Research Data Center (ACRDC).  The ACRDC is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Census Bureau and a consortium of area institutions led by Georgia State.  The ACRDC will provide secured access to approved GSU faculty/projects not only for use of protected economic and demographic data, but also for protected data (e.g., detailed household location) matched to federal public use health surveys.  The proposed hires will conduct research on health policy, health disparities, and risky behaviors using data available through the ACRDC, enhancing the research reputation of the University, increasing external funding, and fueling further ACRDC research across campus.  These hires will build upon the existing interdisciplinary relationships between Economics, IPH, Sociology, and researchers across the Georgia State campus.  Three hires with RDC expertise will contribute toward positioning Georgia State as a leader in the study of health policy, health disparities, and risky behaviors within the internationally-recognized health research community in the Atlanta area.  Interdisciplinary health policy research using ACRDC data places GSU in a position of primacy for further federal funding.

Barry Hirsch, Professor, Department of Economics
James Marton, Associate Professor, Department of Economics

The recently released Healthy People 2020 - the health goals for the United States - calls for the elimination of health disparities, including those experienced by people from racial and ethnic minorities, and by people with disabilities.  The proposed cluster hire will add depth and breadth to current GSU interdisciplinary efforts related to these national priorities, and add a focus on decreasing disparities in access and outcomes experienced by individuals with developmental disabilities from racial and ethnic minorities. The effort will be lead by Dr. Daniel Crimmins, Director of the Center for Leadership in Disability within the Institute of Public Health (IPH).  Three new faculty members will join GSU - one in Communication Disorders, one in Psychology, and one in Public Health - to address health disparities affecting individuals with developmental disabilities from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.  With the strengths of faculty in the respective host departments and across the university, and in coordination with IPH's newly NIH-funded Center of Excellence in Health Disparities Research, the three new faculty members will position GSU to become a leading national research university in disability and health.

Daniel Crimmins, Professor, Institute of Public Health

Obesity, overweight and their associated disease sequellae is rapidly increasing and impacts at least 60% of adults and children in Georgia and the USA. In addition, the CDC (2009) has questioned the solvency of the US health system, citing $147 billon spent on obesity annually. All attempts to curb this epidemic have failed, requiring a deeper understanding of obesity that results in new obesity prevention and reversal strategies.

This proposal aims to create the EATSFOR Center that will include members from four GSU departments/colleges and three new Associate Professor faculty, the latter having demonstrated expertise and current funding in areas related to strategies incorporating activation of the SNS to reverse obesity and obesity-associated diseases. The EATSFOR Center will leverage current funding/expertise to create new funding streams that will significantly contribute to GSU's Strategic Plan and the goal of doubling our external funding.  The hires will be Associate Professors in:

  • SNS, Nutrition, and Physical Activity (Nutrition):  How alterations in SNS control of the cardiovascular system influence metabolism and, ultimately, obesity in human populations.
  • SNS and Molecular Control of Fat Cell Physiology (Biology): How the SNS influences molecular and cell/biochemical biology of lipid droplets.
  • SNS and Energy Expenditure (Biology or Neuroscience Institute): How the electrophysiology/neuroanatomy of the SNS outflow from brain is involved in energy expenditure in animal models of human obesity and/or obese populations.

Collectively, this interdisciplinary group will amplify current GSU strengths, and build an internationally known and novel center for high impact, timely and significant research on obesity reversal that has policy implications and applicability to obesity from childhood to the elderly.

Tim Bartness, Regents' Professor, Department of Biology

The Computer Information Systems Department and the Institute of Health Administration in the Robinson College of Business and the Georgia Health Policy Center in the Young School of Policy Studies are undertaking research around the theme of health information technology (HIT).  This initiative will build upon the existing strengths of the nationally-ranked Computer Information Systems and Health Administration programs - and their new Health Informatics specialization at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels - and the extensive funded research of the Health Policy Center.

The unique problems of the healthcare sector provide tremendous opportunities to conduct cross-discipline, collaborative health informatics research.  Many scholars have attributed the healthcare sector problems of costs, quality, and access to the lack of effective use of information technology among doctors, nurses, patients, laboratories, and insurance companies.  Electronic health records (EHR), personal health records (PHR), and computerized provider order entry systems (CPOE) provide unparalleled opportunities to transform the healthcare sector.

This joint research project has major workforce implications for Georgia; for instance, Atlanta has recently been recognized as the HIT capital of the world by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. It is expected that this research will lead to increased HIT funding, top-tier journal publications, and enhanced national reputation for GSU and the departments involved.

Ephraim McLean, Regents' Professor, Department of Computer Information Systems

Just as genomics is the discipline that examines all of the genes in an organism, neurogenomics is the branch of that discipline that focuses on genes expressed in the nervous system. Understanding how genes regulate neural circuits and ultimately interact with the environment is important for understanding species-specific and individual variation in behavior as well as for determining the root causes of neurological conditions that have a genetic component such as Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, and schizophrenia. These are among the most challenging and important research areas of our time and all require multilevel research that integrates underlying genetic and molecular processes with an understanding of neural and behavioral systems. This proposal will fund a cluster of three faculty members who utilize the latest genomic and molecular approaches to complement and extend GSU's current strengths in systems, computational, and behavioral neuroscience. We envision a cluster of researchers with a shared interest in the genetic control of behavior and the common goals of (1) furthering our understanding of the neural basis of normal and pathological behavior, in particular social behavior, at the genomic and molecular levels; and (2) identifying novel therapeutic strategies for conditions and diseases of the brain including mental illnesses. One individual is expected to employ insects as model organisms; one will employ vertebrates with a research emphasis on social behavior; and one is expected to focus on genomic or behavioral genetics research on humans or non-human primates. With this hiring effort, the GSU neuroscience community will move aggressively into research that is at the forefront of understanding the neurobiological and genetic basis of behavior. In so doing, the Neuroscience Institute, the Psychology Department, and the Biology Department will work together to form with a unique, collaborative, neuroscience identity extending from genetic to behavioral analysis, improving the training experience of our students, increasing the stature of GSU as a research university, and propelling us into the leading ranks of neuroscience programs focused on complex behavior.

Walt Wilczynski, Professor and Director, Neuroscience Institute

Georgia State University has an established international reputation in the scientific study of primate behavior, largely but not exclusively from the three decades of research on the cognitive and social competencies of monkeys and apes—including language-trained chimpanzees—at our Language Research Center (LRC). The university has made significant investments across three decades into this research area, and has recruited outstanding faculty and attracted strong graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the departments of psychology, biology, and anthropology.  However, further growth of our grant support, reputation, ability to recruit top graduate students and postdocs, and so forth is limited by the relatively small number of GSU researchers currently in this area. The present proposal is to build on this area of strength by recruiting a cluster of three additional faculty members who would (a) complement our current scientists; (b) expand our research expertise in the evolution, mechanisms, and expression of primate cognition and social competence; and (c) elevate Georgia State University to the level of the top research sites in the world for understanding nonhuman and human primate behavior. These three faculty members could find academic homes in any of the four partner academic units. As is true of current team members, we anticipate that these new colleagues would connect with ongoing Areas of Focus (particularly Brains & Behavior and Challenges to Acquiring Language & Literacy) and would be attracted to the current research resources of the university (e.g., the unique resident animals at the LRC, the human neuroimaging resources at the Center for Advanced Brain Imaging) as well as the geographic region (e.g., through partnerships with ZooAtlanta and the Yerkes National Primate Research Center). David Washburn will serve as the point of contact for this cluster hire proposal.

David Washburn, Professor, Department of Psychology

Stars, like people, have different sizes and heritages, lead diverse lives, and are found alone or in families. GSU astronomers are pioneers in studies of stars and their environments, and GSU's CHARA Array produces the best close-up views ever made. Astronomy and Computer Science faculty are joining forces in this 2CI effort to exploit such revolutionary observational tools through new faculty hires to create high-resolution images of stars, mine large scale databases, and develop models of stars and their distribution in space. The program will bring the global focus of stellar astrophysics to GSU.

Hal McAlister, Regents' Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

High-speed global communication networks have transformed simple utterances, images, and writings into the ideological fodder of ethnic, religious, and other transcultural conflicts. The increasing influence of social media web sites, blogs, wikis, and video sharing sites has made understanding transcultural conflict an international priority.The Transcultural Conflict and Violence (TCV) Initiative will distinguish GSU nationally by adopting an interdisciplinary approach to the understanding of the transcultural distribution of discourses, images, and performances of global violence and conflict.

TCV will build on (1) the Computer Science Department's national expertise in network security, AI, and image processing which collectively contributed to its recent NRC ranking as one of the premiere programs in the southeastern U.S., and (2) national award-winning humanities faculty studying how media, literature, religious symbolism, and rhetoric contribute to violence and conflict.  This proposal is consistent with federal research directions (DOD, NSF, etc.) and private funding opportunities (Guggenheim, ACLS, etc.).

The proposal would add three new Associate or Full Professors in the areas of signal and image processing (Computer Science), Middle Eastern visual culture (Communication) and contemporary violence and religion (Religious Studies), with affiliate/joint appointment opportunities in the Middle East Institute, or the English Department. Carol Winkler will be the point-of-contact for the TCV initiative.

Carol Winkler,  Professor, Communication; Associate Dean, Humanities