High school students in West Virginia will continue to explore careers in medicine and science thanks to funding for the Health Sciences and Technology Academy at West Virginia University. The program recently received a $253,780 grant from the National Center for Research Resources, a division of the National Institutes of Health. The grant award marks the final year of a five-year grant and the 14th straight year HSTA has received NIH funding.

“We are so proud of that. It’s a real honor,” Ann Chester, Ph.D., HSTA program director and assistant vice president for social justice at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, said. “It’s not common to have this type of funding for that long.”

HSTA is a community-based science and math program that encourages 9th through 12th graders in rural areas to pursue higher education. The goal of the program is to increase the number of African-American and other underrepresented high school students in West Virginia who pursue higher education and to increase the number of health practitioners in medically underserved communities in West Virginia. Students who complete the HSTA program and maintain a 3.0 grade point average earn a tuition waiver from any West Virginia state-run college.

Dr. Chester estimates that approximately 800 high school students in 26 West Virginia counties will benefit from the NIH funding. Currently, HSTA students are examining diabetes and obesity in the communities. Their research has shown that 50 percent of their families and friends are obese, which is higher than the state average.

“They are more stricken than the general population of the state, so they’re waging war on these epidemics and looking at ways to prevent and reduce these diseases as well as finding ways to increase activity and eat more nutritiously,” Dr. Chester said. “If anyone can reverse these trends, it’s kids.”

For more information on HSTA, see www.wv-hsta.org.


CONTACT: Angela Jones, HSC News Service
304-293-7087; jonesan@wvuh.com