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RTI International welcomes 2023-24 class of university scholars

Projects will include early childhood food insecurity, perinatal PFAS exposure, Malaria in Zanzibar and the rare blood disease TTP

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — The University Collaboration Office (UCO) within RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, welcomes 2023 - 2024 RTI University Scholars: Jigna M. Dharod, Ph.D., University of North Carolina Greensboro; Liping Feng, M.D., Duke University; Jessica Lin, M.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Toyosi Onwuemene, M.D., Duke University. 

The RTI University Scholars Program supports senior academics, typically on sabbatical, to spend time collaborating with RTI researchers. The program is designed to drive growth, foster collaboration, build scientific stature and develop opportunities for externally funded joint projects. Since 2014, RTI has appointed 43 distinguished academic researchers from the University of North Carolina System’s 16 universities and from Duke University to the RTI University Scholars Program. 

“This program creates longstanding connections and collaboration between academics and RTI experts, providing opportunities for continued joint research,” said Katie Bowler Young, operations director and interim leader, University Collaborations. “We are excited to welcome this year’s cohort of talented university scholars.” 

In 2022 – 2023 the RTI University Scholars Program prioritized projects related to, agriculture and food security, climate change, environmental health and sciences, energy, drug discovery, economic development, global health, immunization and infectious diseases, and innovation and technology. The RTI University Scholars Program is committed to hosting faculty who center equity in their research – consistent with RTI and the Transformative Research Unit for Equity’s approach to rethinking traditional research practices in order to achieve equitable and transformational outcomes. 

The 2023-24 RTI University Scholars include:  

Jigna M. Dharod, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, will study food insecurity and infant feeding practices and its impact on early childhood growth and development.  

Liping Feng, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine, will study the effect of perinatal exposure to PFAS on neurodevelopmental behavioral and intellectual disorders in children. 

Jessica Lin, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will study human mobility and its impact on the elimination of malaria in Zanzibar.  

Toyosi Onwuemene, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine, will study the development of early identification methods in patients with pre-acute immune thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP).  

The RFP for the 2024-25 application cycle will be available in late October 2023. 

Learn more about RTI University Scholars