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Current R01 Projects

The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) highly sought Research Project grant — commonly known as the ‘R01’ — is one of the most competitive grants in health-related research. In 2018, less than 18% of applications for R01 grants received funding.

For this reason, the UNC School of Nursing is especially proud that a number of our researchers’ innovative projects have been chosen by the NIH to receive R01 grant awards. With long-term vision and results-oriented project design, our faculty are leading in the creation of new knowledge and development of best practices that improve the quality of life for individuals across the lifespan.


A Safer Assisted Living: Creating a Toolkit for Person and Family Engagement

Principal Investigator: Anna Beeber, PhD, RN, FAAN
Funded by: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

Many aging individuals and their families choose assisted living communities for a variety of support services: round-the-clock supervision, meal preparation, assistance with personal care and medication management. Assisted living care can help individuals remain as independent as possible as they age and require more support. However, it is a common challenge for assisted living communities to support residents’ independence and equally maintain their safety. One way to achieve this balance is through encouraging engagement by the resident and family in their care.

The primary focus of the Engage study, developed and directed by Anna Beeber, is to create a toolkit that helps residents and families to get more involved in assisted living care. The study also explores how to make this toolkit usable by assisted living providers. The Engage toolkit is designed around person and family engagement (PFE), which enables assisted living communities to proactively partner with residents and their families to enhance the safety of their living environments.

Healthy Mothers-Healthy Children: An Intervention with Hispanic Mothers and their Young Children

Principle Investigator: Diane Berry, PhD, RN, ANP-BC, FAANP, FAAN
Funded by: National Institute for Nursing Research

While it is well documented that obesity contributes to cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses, little has been done to find real-world approaches to reducing obesity that work best for Hispanic women and their children. Practical ays to confront the health risks associated with obesity are urgently needed to decrease morbidity and mortality, and to reduce health care costs for a population that already faces devastating health inequities.

Diane Berry’s 12-week community-based program for local Hispanic women and their 4-year-old children engages health departments to provide relatable nutrition and exercise education, ways to increase physical activity at home and training for developing healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress. This study could lead to an easy-to-replicate intervention that communities could implement within their Hispanic populations to help mothers maintain a healthy weight and change the trajectory for children at risk of becoming obese.

The Harmony Study – A culturally-relevant, randomized-controlled, stress management intervention to reduce cardiometabolic risk in African American

Principal Investigator: Cheryl Woods Giscombe, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, FAAN
Funded by: National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)

African American women have disproportionately high rates of disability and death from chronic cardiometabolic illnesses — including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke — compared to other groups of women in the U.S. Gender- and race-specific factors that lead to elevated risk for cardiometabolic illnesses have been historically understudied for African American women, and Giscombe and her team are setting out to change that.

This study for African American women with elevated cardiometabolic risk — those who are overweight or have a family history, for example — will test how culturally relevant social support, stress management and mindfulness tools will reduce their risk before they actually develop the disease. By addressing factors that may impact their risk, and helping participants develop healthier eating habits and increase physical activity, this project could ultimately lead to cardiometabolic risk reduction and better health outcomes for African American women.

NC Works4Health: Reducing Chronic Disease Risks in Socioeconomically Disadvantaged, Unemployed Populations

Principal Investigator: Shawn M. Kneipp, PhD, RN, ANP, PHNA-BC, FAANP
Funded by: National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)

Health disparities faced by those living in poverty can be exacerbated by the realities of unemployment — a period of stress and worry that can trigger a host of unhealthy coping mechanisms. These behaviors can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure and psychological distress, which are all common risk factors for the development of chronic diseases.

Shawn Kneipp is revising existing prevention programs that can be paired with employment assistance programs and job placement services and developing ways employers can make a positive impact on the health of vulnerable employees. In partnership with key stakeholders across health, social service, employment, and economic development sectors, findings from this study will not only advance the science of chronic disease prevention for this vulnerable target population, but also inform public health and community efforts to address social determinants of health and reduce the burden of chronic disease.

Genetic and Epigenetic Effects on Childhood Cognitive Trajectories

Principal Investigator: Hudson Santos, PhD, RN
Funded by: National Institute of Nursing Research

Children born extremely preterm exhibit much higher rates of cognitive function impairment— such as trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating or making decisions — during early childhood and through to adulthood when compared to those born full-term. Ranging from mild to severe, cognitive function impairment can significantly impact an individual’s day-to-day life.

Hudson Santos’s study will examine relationships among gene variants, DNA methylation, neonatal inflammation and developmental trajectories of cognitive function in extremely preterm children from ages 2 to 17 years. This study will be among the first to identify genetic and epigenetic factors that can be used to determine a child’s risk level, as well as molecular processes that can be the targets of early risk-mitigating interventions to improve quality of life for children born extremely preterm.

Efficacy of a Couple-focused, Tailored, Symptom Self-Management mHealth Intervention for Prostate Cancer Patients and Partners

Principal Investigator: Lixin Song, PhD, RN, FAAN
Funded by: National Institutes of Nursing Research

Curative treatment for prostate cancer may save lives, but its side effects can be hard on the quality of life of both the patients and their intimate partners. Survivors may experience urinary, sexual, bowel and hormonal problems, general distress, pain, fatigue and sleep disturbances — which can disrupt intimacy and create stress for both survivors and partners. As partners are often also caregivers, including their participation in survivorship care is vital to the couple’s quality of life.

Lixin Song sought to create an online, couple-focused program as a convenient, cost-effective way for couples to develop strategies together that can help them manage the negative effects of cancer and cancer treatment. Song’s interdisciplinary team is pilot-testing the efficacy of an evidence-based, tailored mobile health (mHealth) intervention that could serve as a model everywhere for couples facing other types of chronic illnesses as they work to maintain strong relationships and regain their quality of life as a team.

Symptom Trajectories in Infants and Toddlers at Risk for Chronic Feeding Problems

Principal Investigator: Suzanne Thoyre, PhD, RN, FAAN
Funded by: National Institutes of Nursing Research

It is not uncommon for infants who spend time in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) — whether due to illness or prematurity — to struggle with developmental complications such as feeding. For some, that problematic feeding issue will escalate into a full-blown chronic feeding disorder that continues into childhood and jeopardizes health. Detecting symptoms indicative of a disorder early on and finding ways to manage those symptoms could improve outcomes.

Suzanne Thoyre is working to identify and recognize the early signs of feeding disorders before they progress into worsening problems. By following a group of former NICU babies for two years, and assessing their feeding skills, behaviors and family environments, she is finding the link between early symptoms of problematic feeding and the subsequent behaviors that signal a disorder. Such discovery will lead to targeted interventions that can bypass bigger problems before they start and improve the health outcomes for these children.

Connect-Home: Testing the Efficacy of Transitional Care of Patients and Caregivers during Transitions from Skilled Nursing Facilities to Home

Principal Investigator: Mark Toles, PhD, RN, FAAN
Funded by: National Institute of Nursing Research, National Institutes of Health

Each year, 1.6 million older adults receive care in a hospital, followed by a short stay in a nursing home. After the transition back home, these patients and their caregivers often lack the knowledge, skill and support required to manage the older adults’ serious illnesses. It is no surprise that about half of these individuals return to the hospital or die within three months.

Mark Toles’ research suggests that more intentional care surrounding the transition to home-based care saves lives. Toles is conducting a randomized and controlled trial of his successfully piloted Connect-Home intervention in nursing homes and home care offices across North Carolina. Connect-Home includes creating an individualized transition care plan and implementing the plan at home. This intervention has the potential to improve the lives of seriously ill older adults and reduce the burdens on caregivers.

Promoting stretching exercise to reduce cardiovascular health risk in late pregnant women with obesity

Principal Investigator: SeonAe Yeo, PhD, RN, FAAN
Funded by: National Institute for Nursing Research

For most pregnant women, regular aerobic exercise — as much as 30 minutes, five days a week — is a recommended part of a healthy pregnancy. In fact, a sedentary lifestyle during pregnancy can put both mother and baby at risk for complications such as preeclampsia, which is a significant contributor to cardiovascular disease later in life. However, due to fatigue and discomfort, exercise naturally becomes more difficult in the later months of pregnancy. 

SeonAe Yeo’s project tests how stretching exercises may be the key to promoting health and preventing complications when pregnant women are starting to feel less mobile. In sedentary, overweight pregnant women with a history of preeclampsia, 10 or more weeks of stretching exercise reduced their risk of preeclampsia by lowering blood pressure and enhancing antioxidant uptake. As many pregnant women from underserved groups are at risk for obesity, stretching exercise is a practical, cost-effective prenatal regimen they can stick with.

Currently Funded Research

External Funding

Principal InvestigatorProject Ttitle 
Dr. Ruth AndersonCare-Partner Assisted Intervention to Improve Oral Health for Individuals with Mild DementiaNYU/NIH/NIDCR
Dr. Ruth AndersonThe Influence of Context on Implementation and Improvement (ICII) projectSubcontract: University of Alberta
Dr. Ruth AndersonOptimizing Antimicrobial Use in Maintenance Dialysis Units (OPTIMUS)Subcontract: Rhode Isand Hopsital
Dr. Anna BeeberA Safer Assisted Living: Creating a Toolkit for Person and Family EngagementAHRQ
Dr. Linda BeeberImproving Maternal and Child Outcomes for Vulnerable Infants, Toddlers and Families: National Implementation of a Mental Health Innovation (MHI) to the Nurse Family PartnershipRita and Alex Hillman Foundation
Dr. Diane BerryHealthy Mothers-Healthy Children: An Intervention with Hispanic Mothers and their Young ChildrenNIH/NINR
Dr. Diane Berry and Kim BoggessMedical Optimization and Management of Pregnancies with Overt Type 2 Diabetes (MOMPOD)NIH/NICHD
Dr. Diane BerryWar of Attrition: Predicting dropout from pediatric weight management - UNC SubcontractSubcontract: Wake Forest University
Dr. Jada BrooksInflammatory Markers, Hazardous Air Pollutants, and Psychosocial FactorsNIH/NIEHS
Dr. Jada BrooksLong-Term Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution and the Occurrence of Hypertension in American Indians: The Strong Heart StudySubcontract: Washington University in St. Louis
Dr. Ashley BryantDiverity supplemenet to the U01 project-Care partner assisted intervetnion ot improve oral helath for persons with mild dementiaNYU/NIH/NICDR
Dr. Yamnia CortesReducing Cardiovascular Risk in Perimenopausal Latinas: Pilot Study of a Multi- Component InterventionNIH/NIMHD
Dr. Louise FlemingDevelopment of an Adrenal Crisis Prevention Mobile Health Application - A Pilot StudyPediatric Endocrine Nursing Society/ Multi-Center
Research Grant
Dr. Cheryl GiscombeTHE HARMONY Study - A culturally-relevant, randomized-controlled, stress management intervention to reduce cardiometabolic risk in African American womenNIH/NIMHD
Dr. Cheryl JonesHeartHome™: A Nurse-Driven, Home-Based Cardiac Rehabilitation Program to Reduce Health Disparities for Cardiac Patients Living in Rural and Underserved Areas of the CarolinasThe Duke Endowment
Dr. Saif KhairatOvercoming the Barriers to Clinical Trial Recruitment through TeleconsentSubcontract: Medical Univeristy of South Carolina
Dr. Shawn KneippNC Works4Health: Reducing Chronic Disease Risks in Socioeconomically Disadvantaged, Unemployed PopulationsNIH/NIMHD
Dr. Jennifer Leeman and C. Samuel-HodgeTaking the Med-South Lifestyle Program to Scale, Center for Health Promotion Disease Prevention Core ProjectCenters for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Jennifer Leeman and Allison BrennerComprehensive Cancer Control Collaborative of North Carolina (4CNC)Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Barbara MarkEnhancing Nursing Care Reliability in Neonatal Intensive CareSubcontract: Ohio State University
Dr. Deborah MayerEffectiveness trial of a head and neck cancer survivorship toolSubcontract: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Dr. Sheila SantacroceInterventions for Preventing and Managing Chronic IllnessNIH/NINR
Dr. Hudson SantosPlacental DNA Methylation, Maternal Hardship and Child Neurodevelopmental OutcomesNIH/NINR
Dr. Hudson SantosPlacental Origins of Positive Child HealthNIH/NICHD
Dr. Hudson SantosGenetic and Epigenetic Effects on Childhood Cognitive TrajectoriesNIH/NINR
Dr. Patricia SilveyraSex Based Differences in Airway Structural Properties and Immune Response in HDM Challenged AnimalsNIH/NHLBI
Dr. Patricia SilveyraSex differences in ozone-induced asthma exacerbations: role of the microbiomeCEHS Pilot Projects Program
Dr. Lixin SongSCH: INT: AURA - Connecting Audio and Radio Sensing Systems to Improve Care at HomeNIH
Dr. Lixin (Lee) SongTesting the Efficacy of a Couple-focused, Tailored mHealth Intervention for Symptom Self-Management among Men with Prostate Cancer and Their PartnersNIH/NINR
Dr. Lixin (MPI) SongFeasibility Testing of Patient Reported Outcomes-informed Caregiving Education and Symptom management System (PROCESS):Subcontract: Mayo Clinic
Dr. Sandra SotoOptimizing a dyadic physical activity intervention for Hispanics with osteoarthritis and their physical activity supporterNIH/NIMHD
Dr. Suzanne ThoyreBehavioral and Physiological Responses to Oral Feeding in Infants with Complex Congenital Heart DiseaseSubcontract: Ohio State University
Dr. Sue ThoyreSymptom Trajectories in Infants and Toddlers at Risk for Chronic Feeding ProblemsNIH/NINR
Dr. Mark TolesConnect-Home: Testing the Efficacy of Transitional Care of Patients and Caregivers during Transitions from Skilled Nursing Facilities to HomeNIH/NINR
Dr. Mark TolesAdapting Connect-Home Transitional Care to Fit the Unique Needs of Persons with Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias and their Caregivers: A Pilot StudyNIH/NINR
Dr. Jessica WilliamsLongitudinal Prescription Opioid Use among Patients Experiencing Interpersonal ViolenceUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Injury Prevention Research Center
Dr. Jia-Rong WuVitamin C Supplementation Intervention for Patients with Heart Failure: A pilot studySigma Theta Tau International
Dr. Rose Mary XavierUnraveling Functional Mechanisms of Psychosis Spectrum Symptoms Using Predicted Gene expression ProfilesSigma Theta Tau International
Dr. Rose Mary XavierData-driven Identification of Neurobiologically Informed Psychosis Symptom Profiles and Subject GroupsRockefeller University/Heilbrunn
Dr. Seonae YeoPromoting stretching exercise to reduce cardiovascular health risk in late pregnant women with obesityNIH/NINR
Dr. Jessica Zegre-HemseyCenter for Physiological Research SubcontractSubcontract: University of California San Francisco
Dr. Jessica Zegre-HemseyPatient-reported Symptoms of Acute Coronary Syndrome in Prehospital Cardiac CareNIH/NINR

Subcontract Funding

Co-InvestigaorProject Title
Dr. Deborah MayerEffectiveness trial of a head and neck cancer survivorship tool

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Funding

Principal InvestigaorProject Title
Dr. Ashley BryantFeasibility of Novel Symptom Management and Supportive Care Intervention for Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Dr. Lixin SongFeasibility Testing of Patient Reported Outcomes-informed Caregiving Education and Symptom management System (PROCESS): A Personalized mHealth Program for Cancer Symptom and Complication Management,

Internal Funding

Principal InvestigatorProject Ttitle 
Dr. Jada BrooksEngaging Community Stakeholders in the Formative Stage to Design Culturally-Appropriate Studies Aimed at Promoting Health Equity in American Indian CommunitiesNC TRACS
Dr. Yamnia CortesMenopausia, Salud, Corazón: A Multi-Component Intervention to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk in Perimenopausal LatinasJunior Faculty Development Award/Office of the Provost
Dr. Yamnia CortesReproductive hormones as risk factors for progression of carotid plaque burden and characteristicsNC TRACS
Dr. Rachel HirscheyAfrican American Cancer Survivor Engagement to Develop a Physical Activity InterventionOncology Nursing Foundation
Dr. Eric HodgesIntervention mapping for a novel obesity prevention trial during infancyNC TRACS
Dr. Saif KhairatSOM/Pilot AwardCenter for Health Innovation, School of Medicine, UNC
Dr. Marcia Van RiperFamily Management of Sleep Problems in Children with Down syndromeUNC Sleep Innovation Research Program
Dr. Marcia Van RiperFamilies and Congenital Heart Disease: Family Adaptation in Three Groups of FamiliesDhillon Jordon Shar Innovation Fund in CHD
Dr. Patricia SilveyraSex differences in allergic lung inflammation: transcriptional regulation by sex hormonesJunior Faculty Development Award/Office of the Provost

PhD Student Funding

Principal InvestigatorProject Ttitle 
AdynskiHillman Scholars Program in Nursing InnovationRita and Alex Hillman Foundation
Martha Grace CromeensHillman Scholars Program in Nursing InnovationRita and Alex Hillman Foundation
Martha Grace CromeensPathways to Diagnosis Among a Diverse Sample of Women with EndometriosisSigma Theta Tau International
Martha Grace CromeensPathways to Diagnosis of Endometriosis among Women of Different Socioeconomic Statuses and RacesNIH/NINR
Martha Grace CromeensQualitative Inquiry into the Pathways to Diagnosis of Endometriosis Across a Diverse Sample of WomenAmerican Nurses Foundation
Tyra GirdwoodDiscovering Pediatric to Adult Health Care Transition Readiness: A Comparison between Child and Parent/Caregiver Perspectives within the Cystic Fibrosis CommunityCystic Fibrosis Foundation
Sherita HouseHealthcare Providers’ Relational Coordination, Job Satisfaction, and RetentionTriService Nursing Research Program
Ya-Ning ChanChemotherapy-related Cognitive Impairment in Adults with Acute LeukemiaACS

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