Wi­dener prof receives grant to ‘ad­vance sci­ence of neona­tal care’

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS -

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.

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