Fredric W. Smith Science Building

$6 million in federal funding to help WVSOM with planned research expansion

Plans to increase medical research capabilities at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) have received financial support with a $6 million appropriation in a federal funding package. 

West Virginia’s two U.S. senators, Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin, both members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, championed the $6 million appropriation to expand the school’s Fredric W. Smith Science Building, which houses the school’s current research facility. U.S. Representative Carol Miller also voted for the package that included the WVSOM appropriation and a total of more than $138 million for 80 West Virginia projects.

The WVSOM project will provide about 15,000 square feet of additional space for modern research laboratories and clinical and translational science research. The project is expected to create 110 construction jobs in Greenbrier County and 25 faculty and staff jobs on the school’s campus.

WVSOM President James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., said expanding and renovating the current space is the initial phase of WVSOM’s plan to grow its research enterprise.

“This is an exciting time for WVSOM,” Nemitz said. “We are grateful to Senators Capito and Manchin for their efforts and Representative Miller for her support. They understand the value of investing in medical education, research and students. This investment in our research enterprise will spark new efforts to address health equity, benefit our students when applying for residency programs, aid in faculty recruitment and retainment, and serve as an economic engine for the school and southern West Virginia.”

Nemitz said WVSOM’s research efforts continue to grow. He noted that WVSOM is now a member of the Bioscience Association of West Virginia and will join the West Virginia Department of Economic Development at the 2024 Bio International Convention in June to highlight the growing biomedical research opportunities in West Virginia.

WVSOM is engaged in biomedical, clinical and translational research, community-based participatory research and public health research. The research facility expansion will fuel WVSOM’s ability to remain competitive with other medical schools in the state and nation and increase WVSOM’s medical and scientific influence.

Dovenia Ponnoth, Ph.D., WVSOM’s associate dean for research and sponsored programs, will represent the school at the Bio International Convention. Ponnoth is committed to outreach and working with biotechnology companies, investors, service providers, government officials and others at WVSOM’s facilities. 

“We are looking to strengthen our preclinical research and expand into drug discovery and development, as well as clinical trials. Our faculty members conduct research in cardiovascular diseases, new therapeutics from microbial products, vaccine development and lung diseases, all of which are vital to the health of West Virginians. The new funding will see us turn our vision for taking bench research to the people with impactful solutions and better trained physicians and scientists,” Ponnoth said. 

Brian Hendricks, Ph.D., executive director for the WVSOM Center for Rural and Community Health and an associate professor in the school’s Department of Clinical Sciences, said, “These dollars will provide new opportunities to address the challenges West Virginians experience across the state.” 

Nemitz, Ponnoth and Hendricks will present an update on WVSOM’s research expansion at the West Virginia Bioscience Summit on May 29 in Huntington.