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February 19, 2013

GPRI awards $100,000 to study food, health issues

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Food, health and nutrition are the focus of two $50,000 grand challenge awards recently funded by the university's Global Policy Research Institute. These grants are presented in collaboration with the College of Agriculture and the College of Health and Human Sciences.

The first project focuses on food security issues in Kenya, which is home to one of the largest populations living with HIV. The study's goal, led by horticulture professor Stephen Weller, is to evaluate sustainable systems and policies to help low-income people living with HIV improve their nutritional needs. Healthy nutrition is key to the medical care they receive to manage their HIV.

The second project, led by basic medical sciences professor Sophie Leliévre, looks at epigenetics related to dietary supplements and fortified foods. Epigenetics is how environmental factors or issues can influence genetics. In this study, Leliévre is examining how global regions fortify foods differently and what nutrients might be related to breast cancer.

"This seed money was awarded to these projects because they examine food and nutrition in a holistic manner that connects health with economic and ecological considerations," said Dennis Depew, interim director of the Global Policy Research Institute. "The institute's goal is to help support a foundation of research to attract external funding and generate results that can influence policy and improve people's lives close to home and globally."

Since it was launched in 2010, Purdue's Global Policy Research Institute has awarded more than half a million dollars in seed money to a variety of projects such as food security, renewable energy, health issues and disaster recovery. This funding has resulted in a 5-to-1 return on investment through external awards received.

The Global Policy Research Institute focuses on the university's strengths in science, information technology, data management and systems engineering in collaboration with economics and the social sciences to inform policymakers about critical issues such as food security and health. These incentive award grants also serve as an opportunity for graduate students to work on interdisciplinary teams to address problems with local, regional, national and global impact.

Through all the incentive award initiatives, the Global Policy Research Institute has supported approximately 34 graduate students.

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources: Dennis Depew, 765-496-3844, ddepew@purdue.edu

Stephen Weller, 765-494-1333, weller@purdue.edu

Sophie Leliévre, lelievre@purdue.edu