MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s higher education medical institutions are looking to make a larger impact on health.

More than 200 representatives from West Virginia University, Marshall, and other institutions statewide convened at WVU’s Health Science Center to focus on increasing research at universities across the Mountain State. This workshop included leaders from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who offered suggestions on how universities could acquire more of the $32 billion the NIH invests yearly in research.

“We’re really, really privileged to have this level of leadership from our federal agencies, from the NIH, to really come and work with us hand in hand to make and improve the health of this state but to do it as a model for the rest of the country,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, Executive Dean of WVU Health Sciences Center.

Getting the NIH to participate came with the help Congressman David McKinley, who spoke during the opening remarks of the seminar. McKinley emphasized the need for the entire state to try and find ways to grab additional grant funding through NIH and its various outlets.

Marsh agreed with those comments, citing a desire to see WVU and Marshall earn a bigger share of current NIH funding.

“We’re really focused at being a model system for the other parts of the country,” Marsh said. “And start to show that by working in teams, in networks, in partnerships, and helping each other and not trying to fight each other, we can make the most progress the fastest.”

Representatives from both WVU and Marshall presented research during the seminar, which shows recent work — both within their own institutions and through collaboration.

Dr. Marsh discussed recent work from the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, which recently received FDA approval for trial use of ultrasound to help combat Parkinson’s Disease and its symptoms.

“So we’re working a lot on trying to understand how we can individually benefit people so that they can be healthier and mainly looking at the state of your neurologic system and balance,” he said.

Representatives from Marshall University discussed recent work regarding the state’s opioid crisis and research found in West Virginia’s most stricken counties in the epidemic. Even with both institutions presenting their own works to the table when it comes to NIH grants, there was a common call for collaboration in order to receive as much grant money possible so research can continue.

“We get so wrapped up in who’s winning, the war on cancer, the fight against obesity, that we stop remembering that the way to make real progress is to work together and create networks of influence,” Marsh said.

The NIH Seminar will continue Thursday.

Story by Joe Nelson

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