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Public Safety and Health are Focus of Newly Funded Research at NCCU

Chris Herring, director of the Institute for Homeland Security and Workforce Development
Dr. Liju Yang

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) has received federal funding for research and training programs that are focused on protecting our communities against outbreaks of foodborne illness, weather events, and other threats.

Grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security totaling more than half a million dollars have been awarded to NCCU’s Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) and the Institute for Homeland Security and Workforce Development for health and safety research.

Dr. Liju Yang, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences at BRITE, received a grant of $497,723 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to develop better methods of isolating and concentrating disease-causing microorganisms in food samples. Yang’s work involves carbon nanotubes (CNTs), which are extremely tiny tubes formed by carbon atoms that may be used to transport and deliver antibodies to specific sites within the body and combat illness.

Yang’s research focuses on the management of several common pathogens, including E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella typhmurium and Listeria monocytogenes. The NIFA grant was one of 25 awarded to universities for work involving food safety, and one of just two received by a Historically Black College or University (HBCU).

“BRITE is one of the most innovative research institutes in our state and this region of the country," said Chancellor Saunders-White. "NCCU researchers like Dr. Yang are leading the way in creating solutions for illnesses that plague communities here at home and around the world. We are thrilled that the USDA is supporting our efforts to safeguard people’s health and overall well-being.”   

Yang’s previous work has focused on ways to protect military and emergency personnel from anthrax exposure by inactivating spores of the anthrax bacteria using CNTs.

“The awarding of this grant by the USDA speaks to the quality of her research and the recognition of the contributions that she and NCCU are making to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of North Carolina and the world,” said Dr. Hazell Reed, vice chancellor for research and economic development.

Meanwhile, NCCU’s Institute for Homeland Security and Workforce Development, founded nine years ago as part of the Department of Criminal Justice in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, has become national leader in the field of training for emergency management and security preparedness, particularly in rural and underserved areas.

In 2010, the Institute received $1.8 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to train faith-based and community organizations in emergency preparedness. The Institute’s “Mobilizing Faith-Based Communities in Preparing for Disaster” has been offered 31 times in 28 cities with participants from 17 states. A recently awarded federal grant of a $100,000 will allow the institute to continue this work.

“NCCU has played a major role in strengthening the resiliency of numerous communities throughout the U.S.,” said Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of the Center for Rural Development, which oversees a national collaboration known as the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium.



Published: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
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