Fall 2011 Issue


Access Granted

The U.S. Department of Defense awarded Barry a $2 million congressionally-directed grant. The funds from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) allow researchers at the university to conduct studies that could lead to the reduction of bacteria in wound infections for soldiers in combat.

Included in the grant, which is the largest single research grant the University has received, are funds to support a team of six researchers, 12 graduate and undergraduate students and more than $450,000 for laboratory equipment and supplies.

The two-year project is guided by Dr. Gerhild Packert, associate dean and professor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, in conjunction with School of Podiatric Medicine Dean Dr. Jeffrey Jensen, and Dr. Evelio Velis, director of the Health Services Administration Program.

This innovative research project titled, "Identify parameters for the optimal delivery of pressurized nitric oxide to reduce bioburden in wound infections," studies how to deliver nitric oxide to deeper layers of skin in order to reduce the presence of pathogens. Researchers are examining how much pressure is safe to use by testing on human skin models in the laboratory.

"Enabling nitric oxide to penetrate tissues and eradicate bacteria would certainly benefit soldiers in the field," said Jensen, who has clinical experience with nitric oxide in healing chronic wounds. "But there is also a tremendous need for addressing bacterial infections in chronic wounds secondary to diabetes, venous insufficiency and pressure areas in elderly patients. Nitric oxide could assist in the healing process by addressing bacterial burden in wounds without 'drug resistance' so commonly seen with systemic antibiotics."

Barry's Institute for Collaborative Sciences Research provides an opportunity for faculty and students from the College of Nursing and Health Sciences and School of Podiatric Medicine to work together in advancing scientific studies. Findings could result in the manufacturing of emergency medical equipment to treat soldiers hurt on the battlefield. These results can also lead to further funding for clinical studies.

This is the second DARPA grant awarded to the university. Last year, Packert and Velis received $1.2 million to assist military and humanitarian needs by testing water quality for safe use during emergency conditions. The team is currently examining the reliability of water test kits in finding bacteria and parasites in fresh water.

"The reason why we write these grants is to help students, especially undergrads, who rarely receive this kind of hands-on experience," said Packert, a geneticist and expert in molecular techniques. "We want them to use modern equipment and be challenged; it is important for them to have these opportunities that will lead to successful careers or continued education."

Jensen, a surgeon and wound healing expert, is assisting in the oversight of the project and supervising graduate students, while Velis, a medical doctor with postgraduate training in biostatistics and epidemiology, is assisting in research design and statistical analysis as well as developing and implementing research methods workshops for students.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded Barry's Physician Assistant Program two grants totaling $1.5 million. Funds from the grants are being used to support expansion of the program into the United States Virgin Islands (USVI). The five-year project is led by Dr. Doreen C. Parkhurst, associate dean and director of the Physician Assistant (PA) Program.

The PA Program's expansion into the USVI responds directly to the health care and educational needs of its residents, the objectives of "Healthy People 2010" and the recommendations made in the HRSA State Health Workforce Profile for the Virgin Islands. The project received full funding through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

The first of the grants encompasses a one-year project of $273,332, which addresses primary health care shortages in the U.S. Virgin Islands through the effective use of technology, such as establishing video conferencing capability in the USVI.

The second grant of $1,223,615 is a five-year project to address primary health care shortages in the U.S. Virgin Islands through PA training. These funds will support the recruitment and professional development of local physicians and PAs from the islands as faculty members for Barry's PA Program in the USVI. It will provide the initial administrative and technical support personnel needed for the start-up phase of the operation until it is self sustaining. It will enable clinical training to take place in patient populations comprised of underinsured, low income, culturally diverse, indigent and elder individuals. At this time there are only 21 licensed physician assistants serving 108,000 residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which includes St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John.

The Counseling Department in the Adrian Dominican School of Education received a $10,000 grant from the beauty and fashion boutique mark. as part of its m.powerment by mark. Healthy Relationship Peer Educator Program. It is managed by the Avon Foundation for Women through its Speak Out Against Domestic Violence initiative.

The grant is helping to fund the Healthy Relationship Peer Educator Program at Barry to promote healthy dating relationships among college-aged women and men. This is the first year Barry has received funding from the m.powerment program.

The grant is one of 23 m.powerment by mark. 2010 Healthy Relationship Peer Educator Program grants, totaling nearly $220,000, awarded to colleges nationwide to fund a network of dating peer educators on college campuses. The peer educators provide preventive education on dating abuse and violence, sexual assault, harassment, stalking and the promotion of healthy relationships, as well as offer local resources, and provide referrals for community-based domestic violence experts. The grant also supports educator training, materials and support sessions about healthy relationships.

"We are proud that the Avon Foundation for Women and m.powerment by mark. share our mission and have chosen to support our program. With these funds we will be able to train and establish a network of peer educators (Barry University Counseling students) to provide preventive education on dating abuse/violence, sexual assault, harassment and stalking to increase awareness of resources available and to promote healthy relationships among university students," said Silvia Reyes, grants and outreach coordinator in Barry's Counseling Department.

The Avon Foundation for Women is the world's largest corporate-affiliated philanthropy focused on issues that matter to women. It launched Speak Out Against Domestic Violence in 2004 to support domestic violence awareness, education and prevention programs. m.powerment by mark. is a philanthropic initiative committed to breaking the cycle of dating abuse and partner violence.

The Florida Bar Association awarded the Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law a $100,000 grant to assist in the funding of the school's new Juvenile Life Without Parole Defense Resource Center.

With these funds, the Resource Center is coordinating the Florida response to the May 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Graham vs. Florida. The ruling stated that it is cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a defendant, who was a child at the time of the offense, to life without the possibility of parole upon a conviction of a non-homicide offense. The Resource Center is addressing the individual needs of the juvenile clients as well as the broader public policy questions raised by the Graham decision. Its primary goal is to ensure that all Florida youth affected by the Graham decision receive competent counsel resulting in fair sentences.

The Juvenile Resource Center is serving as a clearinghouse for all cases subject to review under the Graham decision. It is also, among other things, providing technical assistance and training, coordinating with advocates across the country representing youth entitled to relief under the Graham decision, and providing direct client representation.

"We are very excited about this partnership with The Florida Bar Foundation. With these funds, we can jump-start this effort to help the courts and the state of Florida remedy these illegal sentences and begin a discussion on what is an appropriate sanction for children who commit serious crimes," said Gerard Glynn, director of Clinical Programs at Barry Law School.

The College of Arts and Sciences received a $300,000 congressionally directed grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Funds from the grant are being used for Barry's new Center for Community Service Initiatives (CCSI).

The creation of a center that would help coordinate and facilitate all of Barry's community initiatives was one of the major initiatives of the University's 2005 strategic agenda. CCSI will allow students to do service internships, community-based research to target communities in need locally and abroad, and complete an important piece of their undergraduate and graduate experience.

In 2009, Barry received an earmark of $167,000 towards operating expenses, and the $300,000 grant will be used for additional operating expenses including the hiring of a director who will be fully appointed for 17 months.

The Adrian Dominican School of Education's Counseling, Reading and Literacy Department was awarded a grant in the amount of $190,095 from the Florida Department of Education (combined state and federal funds).

Funding from the grant provides mentoring, individual and group counseling, tutoring and leadership development services to 150 middle and high school students (grades 6-12). Of the 94 applications received, only 18 were funded. Barry University and the Non-violence Project were the only organizations in South Florida to be awarded the grant.