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    Morehouse School of Medicine Receives $13.3 Million NIH Grant to Lead Consortium Combating Hypertension

    October 20, 2010


    Media Contact:
    Frances Thompkins

    Morehouse School of Medicine Receives $13.3 Million NIH Grant
    to Lead Consortium Combating Hypertension

     “Minority Health-GRID Network” will lead to first-of-its-kind health database

    ATLANTA – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) researchers $13.3 million over three years to fund the “Minority Health Genomics and Translational Research Bio-Repository Database (MH-GRID) Network: A Genomics Resource for Health Disparity Research” project. The project, which is the first of its kind to focus primarily on minority patients, will build a database of genetic and other health information from minority populations by bringing together a collaborating web of institutions, hospitals and community clinics that will share information derived from electronic health records.  The effort will begin in the Southeast, known to have the highest incidence of high blood pressure and stroke among African-Americans. 

    Dr. Gary Gibbons

    The initial objective is to use this database to learn more about why minority patients suffer a more virulent clinical course of hypertension and its complications, such as stroke.  Investigators plan to extend these studies to other conditions that disproportionally affect African-Americans.  The database will allow long term study and short term action in finding new, more effective methods of treatment and prevention.  It will also allow scientists and health care workers to delve more deeply into the genetic, social and economic factors connected to this disease and overall health.

    “The persistence of health disparities in medically underserved minority communities remains one of the most vexing public health problems facing our nation”, said Dr. Gary Gibbons, the project’s Principal Investigator, Chairman of the  Department of Physiology and Director, Cardiovascular Research Institute, Morehouse School of Medicine.

    Dr. Sandra Harris-Hooker, interim dean and vice president for research affairs at Morehouse School of Medicine noted, “The Minority Health GRID project builds upon MSM’s NIH-funded infrastructure provided by the Research Centers for Minority Institutions (RCMI) Program and the Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute, as well as local strategic partners including Emory University, Grady Memorial Hospital System and Kaiser Permanente Georgia.  This research project aligns with MSM’s mission and strategic vision – to use the tools of scientific discovery to make a major impact on the health and well-being of the most vulnerable neighborhoods in Atlanta and beyond.”  

    Dr. Gibbons will lead an outstanding multi-disciplinary team of scientists with expertise in health disparities research, genomic science, bioinformatics, bioethics, epidemiology, minority community outreach, behavioral science and cardiovascular medicine.  Although the Minority Health GRID has an initial focus on tracking health outcomes at safety-net clinics and hospitals in the Southeastern United States, the team includes a variety of collaborative institutions such as – the NIH, Emory University, University of Washington, Jackson State University, Baylor College of Medicine, the Jackson Heart Study, Jackson-Hinds Clinic and Stanford University. The study will use the latest DNA sequencing technology to create one of the largest existing ‘catalogues’ of detailed DNA sequence information of African-American patients.

    The long-term objective of the Minority Health GRID project is to develop more sophisticated approaches to ‘personalized medicine’ that are applicable across the diverse spectrum of patient populations in the United States. The MH-GRID intends to develop predictive tools that will allow clinicians to identify at-risk patients with hypertension who are most likely to benefit from interventions designed to prevent complications such as stroke, heart failure or kidney failure. The project is among the first in the nation with a specific focus on applying state-of-the-art technology and multi-level approaches that will facilitate the ability of the clinician to capture genetic, social and environmental factors that influence the course of disease.

    Dr. Gibbons predicts “The Minority Health GRID will enable clinicians to establish more effective treatments based on ‘point-of-care’ access to health information that takes into consideration the patient’s biological, social and environmental determinants of health.”

    About Morehouse School of Medicine
    Morehouse School of Medicine is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of individuals and communities; increasing the diversity of the health professional and scientific workforce; and addressing primary health-care needs through programs in education, research, and service, with emphasis on people of color and the underserved urban and rural populations in Georgia and the nation.

    Morehouse School of Medicine is a member of the largest consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the world — the Atlanta University Center (AUC). For more information about Morehouse School of Medicine, visit us online at

    About The National Institutes of Health
    The Nation’s Medical Research Agency includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.  It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.  For more information about NIH and its programs, visit