UTEP receives $5M NIH grant to build Imaging and Behavioral Neuroscience facility

EL PASO, Texas (April 28, 2022) – A cutting-edge research facility being developed at The University of Texas at El Paso is the most recent addition to an ambitious expansion of biomedical research initiatives addressing Hispanic health disparities.   

EL PASO, Texas (April 28, 2022) – A cutting-edge research facility being developed at The University of Texas at El Paso is the most recent addition to an ambitious expansion of biomedical research initiatives addressing Hispanic health disparities.   

The Imaging and Behavioral Neuroscience facility will be built on the first floor of the Interdisciplinary Research Building as part of a $5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Importantly, the University has committed an additional $1.5 million to purchase new, high-end imaging equipment for the facility. The combined new space and equipment will allow the University to address the mechanisms that contribute to health disparities related to cancer and neurological disorders that significantly affect Hispanic people.

“The research UTEP faculty and students will conduct at the new facility will have a lasting impact on the well-being of our community,” UTEP President Heather Wilson said. “This new lab builds on UTEP’s nationally recognized capacity to study health disparities.”

The new facility will provide high-capacity behavioral testing and high-resolution imaging. Members of the interdisciplinary research group behind the new lab said it helps position the University at the leading edge of biomedical research associated with pre-clinical models of Hispanic health disparities.

“Hispanics are the largest ethnic minority in the United States, and suffer from extensive health disparities and inequities,” said Michael Kenney, Ph.D., associate dean for research in the College of Science and deputy director of the UTEP Border Biomedical Research Center. “UTEP has aggressively expanded research initiatives focused on reducing health disparities. We are addressing the biomedical mechanisms contributing to these disparities.”

Kenney said the new facility will be the first of its kind in the region and will strengthen collaborative efforts with two regional medical schools that supported UTEP’s application for NIH funding – Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and The Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Kenney is the grant’s principal investigator (PI). Roberto Osegueda, Ph.D., vice president for research; Arshad Khan, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences; Bruce Cushing, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biological Sciences; Laura O’Dell, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Psychology; and Robert Parker, UTEP director of planning and construction, are the project’s co-investigators.

“Reducing minority health disparities that result in chronic disease is a critical contemporary biomedical issue,” Osegueda said. “UTEP has been strategic in its mission as an NIH-designated Institution of Emerging Excellence to facilitate biomedical research initiatives and train the next generation of biomedical researchers.”

With the design phase nearing completion and initial equipment purchases underway, members of the research team expect to begin operations in the new facility in the spring of 2024.

About The University of Texas at El Paso

The University of Texas at El Paso is America’s leading Hispanic-serving university. Located at the westernmost tip of Texas, where three states and two countries converge along the Rio Grande, 84% of our more than 24,000 students are Hispanic, and half are the first in their families to go to college. UTEP offers 169 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs at the only open-access, top-tier research university in America.


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