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Ga. Southern gets $5.1M grant for rural-health institute
Georgia Southern professors Bryant Smalley and Jacob Warren have received a federal grant worth more than $5.1 million to improve health outcomes throughout rural southeast Georgia. - photo by Photo provided.

STATESBORO — Georgia Southern University’s Rural Health Research Institute has received a $5.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, designating the RHRI as a center of excellence for the elimination of rural health disparities.

The grant was received by RHRI co-Executive Directors Bryant Smalley and Jacob Warren. Smalley is a clinical psychologist in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and Warren is an epidemiologist in the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health.

“We are honored to have been entrusted with advancing rural health by such a prestigious federal agency,” GSU President Brooks Keel said. “We are eager to enact the opportunities this grant provides to make a difference in the region.”

Funding for the new five-year project comes from NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and will allow the RHRI to enact a comprehensive rural health disparity-elimination program spanning research, training and community outreach.

The grant’s activities include developing and testing new rural-specific health-promotion programs designed to improve diabetes, hypertension and prostate cancer outcomes; enacting a rural health disparities-elimination summer training program for undergraduate and graduate students; implementing new mentoring programs for faculty wishing to pursue careers in rural health; and creating a new community capacity-building initiative to improve health outcomes throughout rural southeast Georgia.

The grant, which will last through 2017, will create 10 jobs on campus.

“We are thrilled that Georgia Southern and the RHRI have been awarded such a significant grant to bring unprecedented attention to rural health in the region,” Smalley said. “This grant will allow Georgia Southern University to make significant advancements in rural health disparities research, and officially designates the university as a national leader in addressing rural-health issues.”

To learn more about the RHRI, go to

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