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ITHS Awards More Than $100,000 in Translational Health Pilot Grant Funding and Support

ITHS Awards More Than $100,000 in Translational Health Pilot Grant Funding and Support

The efforts of 11 researchers who are seeking to advance promising translational health research got a recent boost when the Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS) awarded them more than $100,000 in pilot grants and in-kind support. The research supported by ITHS in this current round of applications is focused on improving health outcomes for individuals with diseases and conditions that include Alzheimer’s disease, autism spectrum disorder, colon cancer, high-risk pregnancies, HIV/AIDs, and Parkinson’s disease.

“Our translational health pilot grants provide the jump-start funding and services that researchers need to develop preliminary findings and test ‘proof of concept’ to support full-scale, competitive grant applications,” said Mary L. (Nora) Disis, MD, FACP, the Principal Investigator of ITHS. “The record number of applications we received during this grant cycle reflects the high level of need for support of this nature.”

The 11 researchers who received awards and services during this application cycle are from the University of Washington, Fred Hutch, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and the University of Wyoming. Two of these researchers received awards for dissemination and implementation science pilots, which is a new emphasis in the pilot funding program. The 11 researchers, and the projects they will lead, are described next.

Debashis Dutta, PhD, Alzheimer’s Disease

Dr. Dutta is seeking to develop a diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease so that its progression can be slowed in patients through early treatment. His study will focus on developing a microfluidic enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay method that will be capable of reliably detecting a pathogenic biomarker in human cerebrospinal fluid at an early stage of the disease. Dr. Dutta is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Wyoming.

Robert N. Eisenman, PhD, Colon Cancer

Dr. Eisenman is working to identify chemotherapeutic drugs that can prevent Myc-nick induced colon cancer cell survival. His study will focus on understanding the molecular mechanism underlying cancer cell survival, which will be used as the basis to develop ways to identify and eliminate death resistant tumor cells. Dr. Eisenman is a Member of Fred Hutch.

Heather L. Evans, MD, MS, Surgical Site Infections

Dr. Evans is seeking to reduce the number of surgical site infections (SSI) that occur after a patient is discharged from the hospital. Her study will focus on identifying the role patients can play in the early identification and treatment of SSIs. The study will also examine the willingness of patients to utilize mobile health technology to help self-manage their wounds. Dr. Evans is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Washington.

Brandon L. Guthrie, PhD, HIV/AIDS

Dr. Guthrie is attempting to slow the progression of HIV/AIDS in Africa by accelerating the initiation of antiretroviral therapy for those who test positive for HIV. His study, which is a dissemination and implementation science pilot, will introduce a facility-level team in Nairobi to provide expedited patient services to inpatients diagnosed with HIV. He will then evaluate whether this facility-level intervention is successful in improving the continuity of care and reducing opportunities for loss-to-follow-up. Dr. Guthrie is an Acting Instructor in the Department of Public Health in the University of Washington.

Ira Kantrowitz-Gordon, PhD, CNM, ARNP, High-Risk Pregnancies

Dr. Kantrowitz-Gordon is seeking to reduce the stress levels of pregnant women who are at high risk for pre-term birth during the time they are confined to bed rest. He will develop and test an Internet program that is aimed at reducing stress through structured experiences for learning and practicing mindfulness meditation. Dr. Kantrowitz-Gordon is a Senior Lecturer of Family and Child Nursing in the School of Nursing at the University of Washington.

Edward J. Kelly, PhD, Bietti Crystalline Dystrophy

Dr. Kelly is working to better understand Bietti Crystalline Dystrophy, which is a rare, untreatable, and degenerative eye disease. His study will attempt to develop tools to improve understanding of the pathophysiology of this complex disease to help prevent or prolong visual decline. Dr. Kelly is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutics at the University of Washington.

Valerie Kelly, PT, PhD, Parkinson’s Disease

Dr. Kelly is attempting to develop effective gait rehabilitation strategies that are optimized to the cognitive status of individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Her study will evaluate two different approaches to gait therapy to provide a foundation for future clinical trials. Dr. Kelly is an Associate Professor with the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington.

Natalia Kleinhans, PhD, Autism Spectrum Disorder

Dr. Kleinhans is working to discover biomarkers that can accurately predict which infants will develop autism so that they can receive timely interventions. Her study will evaluate whether olfactory measures, or hypersensitivity to certain smells, may provide sensitive biomarkers of autism. Dr. Kleinhans is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of Washington.

Behzad Najafian, MD, Chronic Kidney Disease

Dr. Najafian is seeking to develop a non-invasive test to monitor the loss of podocytes, which are cells in the kidney with limited regeneration capacity, in individuals with chronic kidney diseases. His study will focus on developing a non-invasive assay for podocyte loss in the urine using flow cytometry. Dr. Najafian is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Washington.

Lesley B. Olswang, PhD, Childhood Communication Development

Dr. Olswang is working to reduce delays in communication development in children with severe physical disabilities. Her study, which is a dissemination and implementation science pilot, will evaluate the implementation process and outcomes of an established intervention involving the teaching of gaze behaviors, specifically triadic gaze, as a means of supporting severely disabled children to communicate requests, choices, or comments. Dr. Olswang is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington.

Joyce Yi-Frazier, PhD, Type 1 Diabetes

Dr. Yi-Frazier is seeking to support adolescents with Type 1 diabetes to adopt and sustain positive health behaviors. Her study will explore the feasibility of utilizing Instagram to facilitate a photo-sharing social media intervention to improve health outcomes for a group of these adolescents. Dr. Yi-Frazier is a Research Assistant Professor in the Center for Clinical and Translational Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Please visit our funding page or researchers page to learn more about how ITHS can support local researchers.