NIH-RCMI@Morgan: $14.2M Grant to Study Urban Health Disparities

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has just awarded Morgan State University $14.2 million dollars to establish a Center for Urban Health Disparities Research and Innovation: RCMI@Morgan. The main objective of RCMI@Morgan is to conduct research that develops solutions to enhance health for all citizens of Baltimore, but with an emphasis on eliminating health disparities among minority populations in the City.

RCMI@Morgan includes four main Cores: Administrative, Research Infrastructure, Investigator Development and Community Engagement. The Administrative Core, led by the Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Hongtao Yu, Dean of the School of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences (SCMNS), and the Deputy Director, Dr. Farin Kamangar, Associate Dean for Research in SCMNS, coordinate all the activities of the Center.

Hongtao Yu
Dr. Hongtao Yu
RCMI@Morgan Principal Investigator
Dean and Professor, SCMNS

Farin Kamangar
Dr. Farin Kamangar
RCMI@Morgan Deputy Director
Associate Dean and Professor, SCMNS

The Research Infrastructure Core, led by Dr. James Wachira, includes three research facilities critical for the success of Morgan faculty conducting both basic and behavioral biomedical research: Animal Facility, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Support Unit, and Molecular and Cell Biology Lab. The Investigator Development Core, led by Dr. Christine Hohmann, will manage a pilot research program in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland Baltimore, and a list of other organizations, to train early career faculty for state-of-the-art research in health disparities and urban health. The Community Engagement Core, led by Dr. Payam Sheikhattari, will collaborate with community groups and government agencies to facilitate “Community-Based Participatory Research.”

James Wachira
Dr. James Wachira
Research Infrastructure Core Lead
Associate Professor of Biology

Christine Hohmann
Dr. Christine Hohmann
Investigator Development Core Lead
Professor of Biology


Dr. Payam Sheikhattari
Community Engagement Core Lead
Professor of Public Health

There are three research projects dealing with different aspects of urban health disparities: 1) The relationship between socioeconomic status and poverty and mRNA expression in immune cells (Dr. Douglas Dluzen); 2): Assessing the effectiveness of virtual versus in-person-motivation for smoking cessation among youths and adults (Dr. Payam Sheikhattari); 3) HIV/HCV-related health disparities in Baltimore: from community to lab bench (Dr. Yun-Chi Chen).

Douglas Dluzen
Dr. Douglas Dluzen
Assistant Professor of Biology

Yun-Chi Chen
Dr. Yun-Chi Chen
Associate Professor of Biology

The project begins on August 1, 2019 for a period of five years. In subsequent years, mainly through the pilot research program, RCMI@Morgan will include research on diseases such as cancer, ageing, diabetes, mental health, and infectious diseases, as well as other areas of research like social-determinants of health, health informatics and food security. A call for proposals for pilot projects will be forthcoming.