NIH Awards $375-K Grant

News Date
Javan and Finley Aug. 2023 (2).jpg
ASU's Dr. Sheree Finley (L) and Dr. Gulnaz Javan in the Javan Lab (photo credit: David Campbell/ASU).

ASU's Dr. Javan Awarded $375-K by National Institute of Health to Investigate Cocaine Deaths 

By Kenneth Mullinax/ASU

Alabama State University’s world-renowned expert on forensic-death studies, Dr. Gulnaz Javan, has received a $375,000 grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) Support for Research Excellence (SuRE) Program (R16) to help fight the scourge of drug-related deaths by studying microbiomes in deaths caused by cocaine overdose. ASU's Dr. Sheree Finley will work closely with Javan on the three-year grant titled, “Investigating microbiota of the gut-brain axis and the impact of cocaine.” 

"Our ASU cocaine/death project begins September 1, and its goal is to determine how microbiome (gut/stomach) composition and its related cocaine overdoses compare with the causes of death in 100 different bodies," said Javan, who is affectionately nicknamed "Dr. Death" by her peers"We will then build a neural network model that can be used to predict the cause of death based on microbial and metabolic signatures associated with liver and brain tissues. This study will acquire tissues from cadavers (dead human bodies) through collaborations with medical examiners/law enforcement in Montgomery, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida and with an international morgue in Pavia, Italy, which is the largest morgue in Italy."

Javan said that the ASU research project has the potential to aid forensic investigators and law enforcement in solving homicides worldwide and has received a great deal of attention in national scientific and news publications.  

"Our Javan Lab at Alabama State University is the only research group in the nation that has access to national and international cadavers from criminal cases such as homicides, overdoses, and suicides," stated Finley. “I am very excited to be a part of this NIH grant and it is our hope that several unanswered forensic questions will be elucidated by this postmortem microbiome and cocaine overdose research.” 

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