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Higgins: $684,000 grant supporting school-based asthma care


Thu, Sep 28th 2023 09:10 pm

Federal funding from NIH supports University at Buffalo’s Project ASTHMA

Congressman Brian Higgins announced a federal grant totaling $684,704 awarded to the University at Buffalo. Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and awarded through the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the grant will support UB’s Project ASTHMA (Aligning with Schools to Help Manage Asthma and Decrease Health Inequities), a research program supporting school-based asthma care for students in Buffalo’s economically disadvantaged communities.

“Building a stronger and healthier future for kids and families in Western New York begins with reducing barriers to basic needs like health care,” Higgins said. “Asthma often has the greatest impact on the most vulnerable children in our community, with symptoms that require emergency medical care and prevent them from attending school. Thanks to federal funding from the National Institutes of Health, the University of Buffalo is using a school-based approach to asthma care in Buffalo, ensuring this chronic disease will not prevent students from being in the classroom each day.”

Higgins’ team said, “Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children in Buffalo, and kids living in economically disadvantaged communities are 10 to 15 times more likely to have an asthma attack that results in an emergency room visit or hospitalization than kids in surrounding suburbs. As a result, these children often have a poorer quality of life and frequently miss school days, decreasing their educational opportunities.”

Led by researchers at the University at Buffalo, Project ASTHMA is a multi-component intervention study that uses school-based health centers to deliver up-to-date asthma care for children ages 4 to 13 with frequent asthma attacks who are living below the poverty line. These school-based providers can be trained to provide high-quality asthma care, while helping to address barriers to care, including transportation and ease of access to medical professionals.

“With over 2,500 school-based health centers across the United States, they are a potentially cost-effective method to improve the health of children with chronic diseases living in poor communities,” said Lucy Holmes, M.D., M.P.H., clinical associate professor of pediatrics at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB and the study’s lead researcher.

A press release stated, “Researchers believe that this intervention can improve quality of life for children and families, while supporting greater financial stability in communities where schools and families have limited resources. Currently, the Buffalo Public Schools have school-based health centers located within 10 schools.”

Dr. Allison Brashear, vice president of health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, added, “Congratulations to Dr. Holmes on receiving this prestigious award from the NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Dr. Holmes’ groundbreaking scholarship to help manage asthma via school-based interventions contributes directly to the NIMHD’s mission to develop interventions to reduce and encourage elimination of health disparities. This well-deserved recognition is a testament to her groundbreaking research and her passion for helping children with asthma. Her work is essential to ensuring that all children have access to the care they need to thrive.”

Earlier this year, Higgins and UB President Satish Tripathi announced $933,800 in federal funding Higgins secured in the budget to support a new mobile health clinic operated by UB. They said the project will further efforts to eliminate barriers to care and provide health care in underserved areas across Western New York.

The press release added, “The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, part of the National Institutes of Health, provides funding to support scientific research toward improving minority health and reducing health disparities. This year alone, they are expected to fund about 720 research projects totaling nearly $380 million.”

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