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Current Research Projects

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Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Nonpharmacological Pain Treatment


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Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Nonpharmacological Pain Treatment


Category: Pain Management

Combination therapy of home-based Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation and Mindfulness-based Medication for Self-management of Clinical Pain and Symptoms in Older Adults with Knew Osteoarthritis (1R01NR019051-01)

  • Funding: National Institute of Nursing Research (April 14, 2020 – January 31, 2025)
  • Link: NIR RePORT link
  • Overview: The long-term goal of this project is to improve clinical pain and symptoms for older adults with knee osteoarthritis (OA) using home-based nonpharmacological approaches – transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and mindfulness-based meditation (MBM).

Home-based Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation for Pain Management in Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease (3R15NR018050) Supplement

  • Funding: National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research, August 1, 2019-June 30, 2021
  • Link: NIH RePORT
  • Overview: Supplemental to R15NR018050, this pilot study investigates the effects of remotely supervised tDCS in persons with Alzheimer’s disease with the treatment facilitated by home-based, informal caregivers.

Self-Administered Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation for Pain in Older Adults with Knee Osteoarthritis: A Phase II Randomized Sham-Controlled Trial (1R15NR018050-01A`)

  • Team: Hyochol "Brian" Ahn, Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth (PI), Dr. Hongyu Miao/UTHealth School of Public Health (Co-I), Dr. Luca Pollonini/University of Houston (Co-I), Dr. Salahadin Abdi/UT MD Anderson Cancer Center (Co-I), Dr. Roger Fillingim/University of Florida (consultant), and Dr. Raymond Cho/Baylor College of Medicine (consultant)
  • Funding: National Institute of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research, 08/2019 - 07/2022
  • Link: gov link

Associated Faculty

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Come As You Are - Assessing the Efficacy of a Nurse Case Management HIV Prevention and Care Intervention Among Homeless Youth


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Come As You Are - Assessing the Efficacy of a Nurse Case Management HIV Prevention and Care Intervention Among Homeless Youth


Category: Biobehavioral

  • Team: Diane Santa Maria, DrPH, MSN, RN, PHNA-BC, FAAN & Nikhil Padhye, PhD (Cizik School of Nursing); Adeline Nyamathi, ANP, PhD, FAAN (University of California Irvine); Marguerita Lightfoot, PhD (University of California San Francisco); Mary Paul, MD (Baylor College of Medicine); Yasmeen Quadri, MD (Healthcare for the Homeless Program of Harris County).
  • Funding: National Institute of Nursing Research 12/1/2018 - 11/30/2023
  • Link: clinicaltrials.gov link
  • Overview: The purpose of this randomized wait-list control trial is to test the efficacy of a nurse case management HIV prevention intervention (called CAYA [Come As You Are]) compared to usual care among youth experiencing homelessness aged 16-25 years old. The intervention incorporates motivational interviewing strategies combined with nurse case management and a smartphone-based daily diary and goal feature to develop and monitor participant-driven HIV prevention behavioral goals.
  • Supplements: Two supplements to this study leverage the cohort established for the larger grant. Ones is to assess the effects of and antibodies to COVID-19 among this vulnerable and hard-to-reach population, and the other takes a closer look at youth that identify as sexual and gender minorities to assess the relationship between stress and risk behaviors and acceptance of point-of-contact PrEP adherence biomarkers.

Associated Faculty

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Creencias de salud: Health Beliefs, Socio-economic factors, and Mental Health of Hispanic Immigrant Families during the COVID-19 Pandemic


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Creencias de salud: Health Beliefs, Socio-economic factors, and Mental Health of Hispanic Immigrant Families during the COVID-19 Pandemic


Category: COVID-19

  • Team: Daphne Hernandez, PhD, MSEd, FAAHB (PI); Madeline Ottosen, PhD, MSN (Co-PI)
  • Funding: Dean’s Research Award (intramural), July 1, 2020 – June 30, 20201
  • Overview: The study seeks to understand where immigrant Hispanic parents and their U.S-born teens get information about COVID-19, their beliefs about the disease, and how socio-economic factors are affecting their health behaviors. The overall impact of COVID-19 and other stressors on mental health will also be examined.
  • Recruitment flyers: For parents (English and Spanish); for youth
  • Contact: If you would like to participate or have questions, please to contact the research coordinator Sam Payén at 713-500-2018 or Samuel.S.Payen@uth.tmc.edu.

Associated Faculty

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Implementing Routine Symptom Monitoring and Management Using Patient-Reported Outcomes Measures to Improve Outcomes in Patients with Breast Cancer


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Implementing Routine Symptom Monitoring and Management Using Patient-Reported Outcomes Measures to Improve Outcomes in Patients with Breast Cancer


Category: Cancer

  • Funding: First-Time, Tenure-Track Faculty Member Awards by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), through 2025.
  • Overview: Whisenant’s team is working to develop systems for collecting real-time symptom data from breast cancer patients in the outpatient setting at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Nellie B. Connally Breast Center.

Associated Faculty

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Modifying a Telephone Based Care Program to Assess for Self-Neglect


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Modifying a Telephone Based Care Program to Assess for Self-Neglect


Category: Geriatrics

  • Team: Sabrina Pickens, PhD, RN, Sandy Branson, PhD, RN, Mark Kunik, MD, Stanley Cron, MSPH
  • Funding: Alzheimer’s Association 10/1/2018 - 9/1/2020
  • Overview: The overall goal of this study is to reduce unmet needs such as depression, isolation, and behavioral problems of homebound cognitively impaired older adults who receive Meals on Wheels and their Informal Caregiver. In addition, we want to identify known risk factors to prevent the onset of elder self-neglect.

Associated Faculty

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Smart Apartment Seed Grants


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Smart Apartment Seed Grants


Category: Aging

Three grants have been awarded to interdisciplinary teams from multiple institutions for pilot studies of technological tools to help older people live independently. These technologies will be tested in the Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth’s Smart Apartment.

Facial and Body Motion Technology to Detect Psychosocial Distress in Stroke Survivors and informal Caregivers in Living at Home

  • Team: Jennifer E. S. Beauchamp, PhD, RN, FAAN, Cizik School of Nursing, PI; Assistant Professor Shayan Shams, PhD, UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics (SBMI), Co-PI. The Co-Investigators are:
    • UTHealth SBMI – Associate Professor Xiaoqian Jian, PhD
    • UTHealth McGovern Medical School: Clinical Assistant Professor Jennifer Hughes, PhD; Professor and Frank M. Yatsu, MD, Chair in Neurology Sean Savitz, MD; and Associate Professor Anjail Sharrief, MD, MPH
    • Rice University School of Social Sciences – Christopher Fagundes, PhD
  • Funding: Maria C. and Christopher J. Pappas Family Distinguished Chair in Nursing, May 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021
  • Overview: This pilot study recruits stroke survivors and their informal caregivers to help test technologies in the simulated home environment to look for signs of psychosocial distress, which can contribute to poor outcomes.

An AI-powered chatbot for supporting the medication information needs of older adults

  • Team: Assistant Professor Kirk Roberts, PhD, MS, UTHealth SBMI, PI. The Co-Investigators are:
    • UTHealth SBMI – Assistant Professor Muhammad Amith
    • Cizik School of Nursing – Associate Professor Mary Ross, DrPH, MSN, RN, GCNS-BC; and Assistant Professor Mandi Lyons, DNP, MSN, RN, WHNP-BC
  • Funding: Maria C. and Christopher J. Pappas Family Distinguished Chair in Nursing, May 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021
  • Overview: Researchers aim to develop a voice-activated artificial intelligence “robot” that could be integrated into smart speakers (like Alexa, Siri, or Google Home) and/or other devices to answer medication-related questions.

Aging in Place with Cognitive Impairment: Toward User-Centered Assistive Technologies  

Rice University Department of Psychological Sciences

  • Team: Patricia R. DeLucia, PhD, in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Rice University, PI; Cizik School of Nursing Assistant Professor Sabrina Pickens, PhD, MSN, GNP-BC, ANP-BC, Co-PI. The Co-Investigators are:
    • Cizik School of Nursing – Assistant Professor Barbara Hekel, PhD, MS, MPH, RN
    • Rice University – Associate Professor Philip Kortum, PhD, Assistant Professor Stephanie Leal, PhD, and Professor Fred Oswald, PhD.
  • Funding: Rice University ENRICH Program, May 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021
  • Overview: This study will identify and assess the needs, availability and usefulness of assistive technologies among white, Hispanic, and African American patients with mild cognitive impairment to moderate dementia.

Associated Faculty

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South East Texas Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Grant (SETx-GWEP)


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South East Texas Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Grant (SETx-GWEP)


Category: Education

  • Team: Sabrina Pickens, PhD, RN, Vaunette Fay, PhD, RN, Mary Ellen Ross, DrPH, Aanand Naik, MD, Angela Catic, MD
  • Funding: Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program-HRSA-19-008 subcontract to Baylor College of Medicine, grantee institution
    7/1/2019 - 6/30/2024
  • Overview: The Southeast Texas Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program will create a network of organizations that integrates geriatric and primary care which includes older adult patients and their family members. This project will develop training material on various aspects of geriatric care including elder abuse and disseminating it to professionals, students, patients, family members, lay personnel and others.

Associated Faculty

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Symptom Tracking for Pediatric Oncology


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Symptom Tracking for Pediatric Oncology


Category: Cancer

Facilitating Comprehensives Self and Proxy Symptom Assessments for Children with Cancer” (K23 NR019294)

  • Funding: National Institute of Nursing Research, April 1, 2021-March 31, 2024
  • LinkNIH grant funds Crane’s ongoing pediatric cancer symptom research
  • Overview: Dr. Crane’s team is pilot testing a web-based interface designed to make it easier for kids with cancer and their parents to report symptoms in real time with the ultimate goal of improving kids’ outcomes. 

Associated Faculty

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The Influence of Menstrual Cycle on Hippocampal Volume and Diffusivity


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The Influence of Menstrual Cycle on Hippocampal Volume and Diffusivity


Category: Concussion

  • Funding: Dean’s Research Award (Intramural), through spring 2021
  • Overview: Approximately 1.7 million concussions, also known as mild traumatic brain injuries, occur annually in the U.S. Several studies have found that females have a higher risk for concussion, more severe symptoms, and a more protracted recovery than males. One potential explanation for these differences may be related to female reproductive hormones. The purpose of this study is to obtain preliminary data regarding the influence of female reproductive hormones on imaging biomarkers (Diffusion Tensor Imaging) and neurocognition in concussed females. This study will help us determine the feasibility, sample size and power needed for future studies examining the role of sex hormones in concussed females. The findings from the current study can inform future research on sex differences in patients with concussion and potential targeted therapies for the treatment of concussion.

Associated Faculty

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The University of Texas System Health Biobank


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The University of Texas System Health Biobank


Category: Biobank

  • Team: Sabrina Pickens, PhD, RN, Sandy Branson, PhD, RN, Mark Kunik, MD, Stanley Cron, MSPH
  • Funding: The University of Texas System Award 1/1/2017 - 12/31/2020
  • Overview: The mission of this collaborative initiative is to improve the research infrastructure for scientists and trainees at all UT System campuses in Texas, thereby rendering our researchers more competitive for funding, which will position us for impactful translational science and precision medicine for better treatment of common and rare diseases and conditions that burden our society.

Associated Faculty

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Unraveling Mechanistic Mediators of Persistent Post-Thoracotomy Pain: A Collaborative Neuroimmune Imaging Approach


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Unraveling Mechanistic Mediators of Persistent Post-Thoracotomy Pain: A Collaborative Neuroimmune Imaging Approach


Category: Pain

  • Team: Beauchamp and Prossin
  • Funding: The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Presidential Collaborative Award 1/1/2017 - 12/31/2019
  • Overview: The goal of this collaborative project is to show that specific neuroimmune interactions associated with pro-inflammatory bias in the plasma and at the surgical incision site predict the development of post-thoracotomy pain syndrome.

Associated Faculty