Olatundun Awosanya earned a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service (F31) Award in May. This five-year grant from the NIH aims to enhance medical research by providing funding to students from diverse backgrounds.
Awosanya has worked in the Kacena Lab since she was an undergrad at IUPUI, studying megakaryocytes, led by Melissa Kacena, PhD, the Vice Chair of Research for the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.
Awosanya made the trip to Cape Canaveral, Florida in 2019 when the lab conducted its second spaceflight experiment. But when the lab shifted some of its work to COVID-19 research in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, the work sparked Awosanya’s interest, and she took on key leadership roles in the project.
Awosanya’s grant funded her study on the impacts of SARS-CoV-2 infections and age on musculoskeletal health.
This work will build upon significant discoveries the Kacena Lab made related to the coronavirus.
In 2021, researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 can cause quick and significant bone loss, even when infections appear to be mild.
Awosanya was assigned to work in the Kacena Lab as an undergrad after being accepted into IUPUI’s Life-Health Science Internship (LHSI) program, which annually places 75 undergraduate students in immersive experiences around the Indianapolis campus, encouraging them to explore career goals while gaining important professional skills.
As an IUPUI senior, Awosanya was named Intern of the Year by the state’s chamber of commerce for her work in the lab.
Indiana INTERNnet—a program sponsored by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce—names an Intern of the Year as part of its annual IMPACT Awards to celebrate high school and college intern successes across the state. Awosanya was nominated for the award by Kacena.
According to the NIH website, an F31 award helps “promising predoctoral students obtain individualized, mentored research training from outstanding faculty sponsors while conducting dissertation research in scientific health-related fields relevant to the missions of the participating NIH Institutes and Centers.”
“The overall goal of the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) program is to help ensure that a diverse pool of highly trained scientists is available in appropriate scientific disciplines to address the nation’s biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs,” the NIH website states.
Awosanya was awarded the grant on her first-ever grant submission.