MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA) at West Virginia University has received a $125,000 grant from the Benedum Foundation to evaluate the student influence on healthy living in their families and community. 

The goal is to improve health literacy related to obesity and its complications in the highly motivated, college bound HSTA students.

“The kids will be doing projects all over the state focusing on obesity and prevention of all the repercussions of obesity. They are going to be doing all kinds of intervention, and they have developed a lifestyle characteristics survey,” Ann Chester, Ph.D., HSTA program director and assistant vice president for social justice at the WVU Health Sciences Center, said.

HSTA was established in 1994 as a ninth through 12th grade math and science program for minority, underrepresented and rural students in West Virginia. During the school year, students throughout the state work on community-based projects led by their public school math and science teachers. Every summer, WVU faculty lead the students through laboratory and clinical experiences. The goal of the program is to encourage these students to attend college and consider health and science careers.

“The grant is wonderful for HSTA because it’ll bring the leadership from all across the state together to one location to brainstorm and create a strategic plan to really capture the power of the HSTA infrastructure for community-based, participatory research,” Dr. Chester said. “Given their interest, energy and focus, if anybody can help change the health statistics of West Virginia, these kids can by focusing on prevention.”

HSTA rising 11th graders will be on the WVU Health Sciences campus July 10-22 participating in the annual Biomedical Summer Institute. Together with WVU faculty and staff, HSTA students and teachers will be working on various community-based participatory research projects focusing on metabolic syndrome and related diseases.

After the inquiry experiences and research projects of the Biomedical Institute, students will take their new knowledge back to their families and communities through lifestyle interventions designed to improve health literacy and biomedical science education.

For more information: Angela Jones, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
rd: 06-30-11