Widener prof receives grant to ‘advance science of neonatal care’
CHESTER » Anita Singh, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the Widener University School of Engineering, has received the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. This multi-year research grant of $549,214 is one of the foundation’s most prestigious awards that will allow her to continue her innovative research on the prevention of neonatal brachial plexus palsy (NPBB), a birth-related injury that can cause loss of movement or weakness of the arm. Through her research, Singh aims to develop possible preventative and treatment strategies that can advance the science of neonatal care.
“Receiving the CAREER grant is a great accomplishment for both me and my school,” said Singh. “This funding offers dual benefits: it will support our research to develop a tool to address and solve an ongoing clinical issue, as well as create firsthand learning opportunities for our students to work on funded research projects with very high clinical impact.”
A rising leader in NPBB prevention and treatment research, Singh joined the Widener faculty in 2014. This is the third federal grant awarded to Singh for her teaching and research since her arrival at the university, and second awarded in relation to her work on NPBB prevention and treatment. In 2017, she received a multi-year academic research enhancement award (AREA) grant for more than $415,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. That funding has allowed her to study biomechanical and physiological injury thresholds and the resulting structural changes of the neonatal brachial plexus.
The CAREER grant builds on Singh’s NIHfunded research to investigate NBPP injury outcomes that occur specifically during hypoxia, a medical condition that is often caused by complicated deliveries that result in low oxygen in a newborn’s tissues. Singh and her research team hypothesize that babies born under hypoxic conditions are more vulnerable to injury and therefore predisposed to NBPP.
Over the next five years, Singh and her team, comprised of both undergraduate and graduate students from Widener, will collect experimental data that will be used in computer-based models that serve as a tool used to develop strategies for prevention of birth-related injuries including NBBP. Their highly translational work should enhance obstetricians’ care and training. Given the clinical relevance of this research, Singh will lead a multi-collaborative team including clinicians and engineers from Drexel University, Shriners Children’s Hospital and Wayne State University, where Singh earned her Ph.D.
“This grant is a major achievement for the School of Engineering and Dr. Singh, and it speaks volumes about our faculty’s commitment to not only leading innovative, funded research, but providing students with opportunities to participate in it with them,” said Widener President Julie E. Wollman. “The funding will create hands-on learning experiences for our students that will help prepare them for successful careers.”
Funding for the research comes from the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award (1752513). The National Science Foundation’s CAREER Program is a foundation-wide activity that offers support of earlycareer faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.