Kent State Awarded Two Grants from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Two research grants have been awarded to Kent State as part of the Academic Research Enhancement Awards

Kent State University has been awarded two grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. One grant, for research on physical activity levels and obesity, totaled $384,192, and the second grant, for stress-induced noradrenergic modulation of neuroinflammation research, totaled $441,600. The grants were part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Academic Research Enhancement Awards.

Colleen Novak, assistant professor with Kent State’s Department of Biological Sciences, said the obesity research grant is being used to investigate the brains of obesity-resistant rats to find out what makes those rats more physically active and have higher activity-related energy expenditure. Novak said the cells in the brain that make and respond to peptides, called melanocortins, are being examined as part of the study.

The grant emphasizes undergraduate research training and meritorious research, according to Novak.

“Since one of the goals of the grant is to enhance undergraduate research training, the funds will be used to financially support a laboratory coordinator and an undergraduate researcher,” Novak said. “Given how difficult the science funding environment is now, I feel very fortunate to receive this grant.”  

John Johnson, associate professor with Kent State’s Department of Biological Sciences, said the overall goal of the stress-induced noradrenergic dysregulation of neuroinflammation research grant is to know how repeated exposure to psychological stressors leads to increased inflammatory responses in the brain. These responses are associated with poor health consequences, such as cognitive decline, neurodegenerative disorders and depression.

Funds from the grant will support the research and one graduate student. The grant also will provide employment for two or three Kent State undergraduate or local area high school students to work directly with Johnson.

“The purpose of the Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) program is to stimulate research in educational institutions that provide baccalaureate or advanced degrees for a significant number of the nation’s research scientists, but that have not been major recipients of National Institutes of Health (NIH) support,” Johnson said. “AREA grants create opportunities for scientists and institutions, otherwise unlikely to participate extensively in NIH research programs, to contribute to the nation’s biomedical and behavioral research effort.”

For more information about Novak, visit

For more information about Johnson, visit

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Media Contacts:
Colleen Novak,, 330-672-2304
John Johnson,, 330-672-3849
Bob Burford,, 330-672-8516

POSTED: Thursday, August 8, 2013 04:35 PM
Updated: Saturday, December 3, 2022 01:02 AM
Bob Burford