ASU's Cardiovascular Grant Helps Students!

News Date
Matthews Dr. Qiana ASU (2)_1.jpg
ASU's Dr. Qiana L. Matthews (Photo credit: David Campbell/ASU). 

ASU Awarded Cardiovascular Grant from CDC & ASPHN

--Benefits highly impact the University's students. 

By: Kenneth Mullinax/ASU 

Alabama State University has again been awarded a grant that has it conducting important cardiovascular disease research that has as its goal to study the risk factors and health of African-American students in the South. This inaugural $10,000 grant is titled "ASPHN Health Equity Internship Program" and it's awarded with funding from a cooperative agreement between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN). 

"I am excited about this new grant that Alabama State University is now undertaking. The goal of this grant and its work is to contribute to reducing the cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk among African-American students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the South," said Dr. Qiana L. Matthews, associate professor of Microbiology at ASU. "This specific grant is an inaugural program and while the grant amount of $10,000 may sound modest to some people, this is merely the beginning of a secondary program that takes place in 2022, which is vastly larger in scope, research and monetary value." 

She stated that this new grant is all about reducing cardiovascular heart disease among African-Americans. "Important data tells us that heart disease is the Number-one killer of African- Americans in the nation, so now is the time to act," Matthews said. 

Matthews is joined in this research venture by ASU's Dr. Bridgette Stasher-Booker, a Health Information Management expert.

"ASU has always been rooted in technology, community partnerships (CommUniversity) and helping to create academic solutions by forming diverse ways of opportunities through countless resources. The ASPHN Health Equity Internship Program offers us these opportunities," Stasher-Booker commented.   


Scientists, Matthews explained, are seeing the CVD rate dropping nationwide among all other demographics and regions of the country except among blacks in the South.

ASU's study will first investigate African-American youth because CVD-related issues oftentimes first originate in youth. ASU's research team of Matthews and Stasher-Booker will evaluate CVD in African-American students before its symptoms become more pronounced and acute in adulthood. 

"We will start our research by looking more closely at younger people and…the factors that influence cardiovascular disease such as behavior, diet, and lifestyle factors, among others," said Matthews.


Matthews, who is known for her previous cardiovascular research studies, pointed out that under the grant, two student research interns will be hired in 2021 with up to 40 being hired in a second grant funding cycle in 2022. The research interns will be paid $5,400 each, which will make next year's grant worth more than $200,000. 

"It is my hope that we will now get 40 additional ASU students who are studying and interested in scientific research, microbiology and public health-related issues to join us in our internship program and apply for the new research internship positions that will become available in January 2022. These internship positions will pay each student directly, which goes straight to them and not through the University," Matthews explained. 


This program is especially important to anyone connected to an HBCU in the South since most of its students, faculty, staff, alumni and associated families have someone known by them who currently has or been negatively impacted or died due to heart disease/CVD. It presents a real-life learning experience for ASU's students.

"Our students will have the opportunity to engage in structured learning to engage in public health skills in terms of health promotion and education. They will be guided by mentors from federal agencies, as well as local and community organizations. Students are gaining real-world experience in diverse public health areas," explained Stasher-Booker. 

She said that the objectives of the research at ASU include:  

* Assess CVD knowledge, attitude, and behaviors among HBCU students;
* Implement a CVD risk reduction program for HBCU students;
* Evaluate knowledge, attitude and behavioral change among HBCU students participating in a CVD risk reduction program;
* Develop a report on the program with outcomes and recommendations to both the CDC and the ASPHN. 


Matthews explained that the research work in the current grant is now underway and will run through July 31, 2022. She said that she would be remiss if she did not thank two "angels" who have been responsible for allowing ASU's participation in the program. 

"This project would have never seen ASU involvement if it had not been for the professional acumen and expertise in the subject matter, as well as the largesse of both ASPHN's Dr. Steven Owens and Dr. Brian Gilcharist. These two dedicated scientists partnered with the University because of our research strength in this area, as well as their concerns about the health of African-Americans. We will all work together to help alleviate the impact of cardiovascular disease among African-Americans," Matthews stated by phone.


ASU students who wish to be considered for one of the 40 paid ($5,400 each) CVD internship positions being offered in this study -- they begin in Jan. 2022 --- should send an email now with a letter explaining their interest, including their contact information (cell phone number) to Dr. Matthews at: 

News media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.