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Synergy Award winners will further collaborative research in health sciences

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Holly Korschun

Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC) has announced the 10 proposals selected out of 54 submitted for funding in the fifth round of Synergy Awards. The awards support collaborative projects among faculty at Emory University School of Medicine, Rollins School of Public Health, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Winship Cancer Institute, and all other units in the WHSC.

"The Synergy Awards have been an outstanding catalyst for collaboration among researchers across the Woodruff Health Sciences Center," says Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, executive vice president for health affairs, Emory University, and executive director, Woodruff Health Sciences Center. "The projects resulting from these awards are an excellent fit with our strategic plan goals of interprofessional education and collaborative practice, and innovative discovery."

Proposals for the Synergy Awards are required to include faculty members with primary appointments in at least two different schools/units as co-principal investigators. The awards are intended to support new, highly innovative projects that are not yet funded or published and that have potential to generate scientific achievements of the highest quality and impact. The research also must advance the goals of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Strategic Plan and have a high likelihood of external funding.

Synergy Awards offer up to $100,000 in support for an award term of one year, with potential carryover to a second year under special circumstances.  The Synergy Awards are funded from the Office of the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs with support from the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center Fund, Inc.

Since the Synergy Awards were initiated in 2016, more than $3.2 million in funds have been awarded to more than 90 researchers throughout the health sciences, supporting 34 proposals.

"The Synergy Awards have resulted in projects that might not have been funded otherwise, but have generated exciting and important discoveries that also hold promise for further exploration and additional external funding," says David Stephens, MD, WHSC vice president for research. "We are extremely pleased with this program and the enthusiasm and commitment of the award recipients."

The 10 selected proposals and their investigators are as follows:

Clinical and ocular fluid analysis in the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) Network (Sierra Leone)

Steven Yeh, MD (Medicine)
Jessica G. Shantha, MD (Medicine)
Robert F. Breiman, MD (Public Health, Global Health Institute)

Developing cell-free DNA-based net-generation biomarkers for neurodegenerative disorders

Peng Jin, PhD (Medicine)
Hao Wu, PhD (Public Health)

Evaluating the impact of decision aid timing on mandatory shared decision making for defibrillator implantation

Faisal M. Merchant, MD (Medicine)
Neal Dickert, Jr., MD, PhD (Medicine)
David H. Howard, PhD (Public Health

Fast diffusion Kurtosis imaging of acute stroke patients

Ranliang Hu, MD (Medicine)
Phillip Z. Sun, PhD (Yerkes)

Gut microbiome, cancer immunotherapy, and kidney cancer outcomes

Veronika Fedirko, MPH, PhD (Public Health)
Mehmet A. Bilen, MD (Medicine)
Viraj Master, MD, PhD, FACS (Medicine)
Haydn T. Kissick, PhD (Medicine)
Yijuan Hu, PhD (Public Health)
Timothy D. Read, PhD (Medicine)

Multilevel determinants of sleep and 24-hour blood pressure among African Americans

Dayna A. Johnson, PhD, MPH (Public Health)
Donald Bliwise, PhD (Medicine)
Tene T. Lewis, PhD (Public Health)

Nutritional immunoregulation protection against pneumococcal pneumonia

Christopher N. LaRock, PhD (Medicine)
Jorge E. Vidal, PhD (Public Health)

Shiftwork, functional bowel symptoms, and the microbiome

Ann E. Rogers (Nursing)
Timothy D. Read, PhD (Medicine)
Jennifer Christie, MD (Medicine)

Transplant rejection diagnosis and classification using machine learning on whole-slide imaging in pediatric and adult kidney transplant recipients

Julien Hogan, MD, PhD (Medicine)
David Benkeser, PhD, MPH (Public Health)
Lee Cooper, PhD (Medicine)
Alton Farris, MD (Medicine)

Unravelling the electrophysiologic effects of diabetes with novel risk prediction tools: A global collaborative study in South Asians

Amit Shah, MD, MSCR (Public Health)
K. M. Venkat Narayan, MD, MSc, MBA (Public Health)
Gari D. Clifford, DPhil (Medicine)

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