The University of Kentucky has won a $350,000 grant to bring 55 college students from around the state to its campus for the next five summers to work on alcohol-abuse research.
The grant from the National Institutes of Health takes aim at a problem that affects a huge number of Kentuckians while expanding research opportunities for undergraduate students.
"This grant will allow us to significantly expand the breadth and depth of research opportunities for undergraduate students," said Mark Prendergast, a psychology professor who will direct the grant with Kimberly Nixon, a professor in the College of Pharmacy.
Nixon and Prendergast study various aspects of alcohol abuse, and the chosen students will have the opportunity to work with 11 other UK researchers on research topics including fetal-alcohol syndrome, cancer, brain damage, thought processing and the social effects of alcoholism.
The grant will provide $4,000 stipends to each student for the 10-week programs.
"The rich experience that we can provide undergraduates at the University of Kentucky through extensive research enterprise is a gift to our students and a gift to our commonwealth," UK President Eli Capilouto said.
Alcohol abuse is a significant problem in Kentucky, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The state's rate of alcohol dependence is slightly lower than the national average, affecting about 185,000 people older than 12.
About 230,000 Kentuckians older than 21 reported heavy alcohol use in the month before being surveyed, but only 3.6 percent received any treatment.
Nixon said she hopes to reach underrepresented science and technology students, including women, black students and students from Appalachia. She is notifying historically black colleges and universities in the region, and all public and private schools in the state.
The deadline for applications is March 10.