June 18, 2020

Researchers from Vanderbilt University and The Ohio State University are teaming up to develop next-generation robotic technology that can help older adults living with forms of dementia through a grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The five-year grant, totaling $3.13 million, will support research and development of robotic framework and methodologies that encourage social interaction among older adults in long term care (LTC) facilities like nursing homes and independent or assisted living facilities.

Social interaction is known to produce positive health benefits among older adults suffering from cognitive impairments including the progression to Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Conversely, without social interaction, older adults may fall victim to apathy and its ripple effects of loneliness, social isolation and cognitive decline, not to mention the stress and frustration experienced by caregivers. The effects of apathy – the lack of feeling or emotion – among the aging also manifest in the decline of physical health. The stress and anxiety that apathy can produce negatively alters heart health and blood pressure, leading to increased mortality.

Currently, 72% of all adults in LTC facilities experience apathy.

While its necessity has been made clear, there are not enough skilled or well-resourced caretakers to facilitate the kind of social interaction that the growing population of aging adults needs to thrive. By 2034, and for the first time in U.S. history, older adults (people age 65 and older) will outnumber children under age 18, presenting an impending reality that will need to be accommodated.

To address a growing population and work around the limits of caretakers and to capitalize on burgeoning technology, Nilanjan Sarkar, David K. Wilson Professor of Engineering, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and professor of mechanical and computer engineering and a multidisciplinary team of engineers, nurses, physicians and health services researchers from Vanderbilt and The Ohio State Universities explore new opportunities in robotics to facilitate social interaction between aging adults.

Sarkar’s project will be conducted jointly with Lorraine Mion, professor of nursing at The Ohio State University and former Independence Foundation Professor in nursing at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing. It will explore how socially assistive robots (SARs) – a type of assistive robot designed specifically for social interactions and capable of autonomously detecting and meaningfully responding to older adults’ attention and behavior – can effectively target and engage older adults with Alzheimer’s Disease and related cognitive impairments in LTC environments. Paul Newhouse, Jim Turner Professor of Cognitive Disorders and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, pharmacology, and medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is also a co-Investigator for this project.

“We aim to create a better quality of life for the aging population of our society,” said Sarkar, also  Director of the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Lab (RASL). “While there is no cure for dementia at this point, research shows that if we can keep people mentally engaged and active, we can possibly slow the progression of the disease and the deterioration of their overall health. Our research will help us understand how to create robots to act as a coach as well as a peer to facilitate interpersonal connections in a sustainable, meaningful way.”

“We know from research that apathy is the most common neuropsychiatric symptom in older adults with dementia and can have dire effects on both the quality of life for the patient and the emotional stability of the caregiver,” said Mion. “What we are seeking to understand is how we can improve engagement strategies using advanced-but-user-friendly robotic systems to stave off apathy and improve lives for these older adults in long-term care facilities.”

The study builds off Sarkar and Mion’s recently concluded Exploratory Research (R21) grant (NIA:1R21AG050483-01A1) during which they created and deployed Adaptive Robot-mediated Intervention Architecture (ARIA) to promote social interaction vis a vis specialized tasks that depend on human interaction and collaboration.

The foundational study will enable the researchers to address three specific aims in their current research: to improve ARIA through additional software development, to measure a reduction in apathy among older adults with cognitive impairments and mild or moderate dementia, and to identify future scalability and sustainability of SAR implementation in LTC settings.

June 05, 2020

A continuing NIH T32 training grant awarded to The Ohio State University College of Nursing from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research (NIH/NINR) will support the training of pre-doctoral students studying health development across the life course. PhD students in nursing will conduct research while working closely with 24 faculty from nursing, sociology, emergency medicine and pediatric medicine. Each year for the next five years, two or three newly admitted nursing PhD students will be supported over two or three years. Our first trainees will start in the 2020–2021 academic year. This novel training program has four goals to address fundamental challenges in nursing research today:

  • recruit and retain diverse and qualified pre-doctoral trainees to conduct rigorous research in the science of health development
  • prepare trainees to develop and implement ethical health research in the science of health development
  • provide scientific grounding and research experiences with highly qualified faculty and using extensively available resources to prepare trainees for research careers
  • increase the number and strengthen the scientific foundation of early career nurse scientists

Central to the training plan is the broadening of our PhD program focus on health determinants, incorporating a modification of the ecodevelopmental and life course model. In light of how health develops across the life course, the research community is challenged to stimulate new research, to develop creative solutions for improving health and wellness and to translate research findings into social policy that will optimize health. This renewal includes attention to sensitive periods of health development from preconception to old age. Trainees will be prepared to lead research teams based upon a life course health development framework that considers the intersection of determinants of health with human biological, psychological, and epigenetic processes, and explains the mechanisms and wellness outcomes of this interaction. The program will further NINR’s goal to support research on the science of health and wellness, which is integral to NINR’s mission as well as across the NIH and the entire federal government, all of whom have recognized that improving health and well-being is critical to reducing the burden of illness now and in the future.

Co-Directors: Rita Pickler, PhD, RN, FAAN and Mary Beth Happ, PhD, RN, FGSA, FAAN

Class of 2020–2021 trainees (advisors): Nicole Cistone (Pickler, Fortney), Emika Miller (Happ), Lindsay Smith (Harrison)      

The first T32 was funded in 2013. Nine trainees have or will complete the program: Lisa Blair (2018), Colleen McGovern (2018), Randi Bates (2019), Marliese Nist (2019), Elizabeth Hutson (2020), Emma Schlegel, Alexandra Nowak, Stephanie Sealschott, and Laura Beth Kalvas.

Application for The Nursing PhD program for fall 2021 will open in August 2020. The deadline for the submission of all application materials is January 4, 2021. To learn more about our PhD program, please visit our website.

July 19, 2019
Grants support transformative research in healthcare across the lifespan

The Ohio State University College of Nursing announced today that faculty researchers at the college received approximately $10.7 million in grant funding during fiscal year 2019. That compares to $6.9 million granted for fiscal year 2018.

This level of funding supports research in several critical areas of healthcare, including aging and dementia care, understanding and preventing preterm birth, health and wellness interventions for vulnerable populations, symptom science, and improving critical and chronic care outcomes across the lifespan.

“We are grateful for the support our research faculty continue to receive to advance nursing and health sciences,” said Mary Beth Happ, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA, associate dean of research and innovation at the College of Nursing. “Our researchers pursue breakthroughs and provide leadership in priority areas that promote wellness, stunt the impact of chronic disease and improve health across the lifespan.”

The college revealed in February that last year, it ranked #13 overall and #6 among public institutions nationally in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant funding specifically.

May 09, 2019

The National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH/NHLBI) has awarded a three-year, $1.2 million R01 grant to Michele Balas, PhD, RN , CCRN-K, FCCM, FAAN, associate professor in The Ohio State University College of Nursing. This R01 will fund a research study entitled, “Determinants of Implementation Success Coordinating Ventilator, Early Ambulation and Rehabilitation Efforts in the ICU (DISCOVER-ICU).” Collaborators on the grant include Alai Tan, PhD, (Co-I) and Lorraine Mion, PhD, RN, FAAN, (Co-I) of The Ohio State University College of Nursing; Brenda T. Pun, DNP, RN (Co-I), Eduard E. Vasilevskis, MD, MPH, FHM (Co-I), and E. Wesley Ely, MD, MPH (consultant), of Vanderbilt University; and Lori A. Harmon, RRT, MBA (Co-I), of the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

“This study addresses the need to improve the care and outcomes of the millions of patients admitted to U.S. intensive care units (ICUs) annually,” Balas stated. “Persons experiencing an illness severe enough to require an ICU stay frequently experience profound physical, mental and cognitive health impairments that may persist for months to years after hospital discharge.

“Evidence demonstrates these clinical outcomes improve when integrated, interprofessional, evidence-based approaches to symptom management, mechanical ventilation and physical mobility are applied,” Balas continued. “One such approach, the ABCDEF bundle, has been associated in previous studies with lower ICU and hospital mortality rates, fewer days spent on mechanical ventilation, fewer days spent in physical restraints and lower odds of delirium and coma. Despite these proven benefits, the ABCDEF bundle has yet to be widely adopted in everyday ICU care.”

In the NIH-funded study, Balas and her team will continue their three-year partnership with the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s ICU Liberation Collaborative. The overall objective of the research is to develop multilevel implementation strategies to enhance sustainable adoption of the ABCDEF bundle in routine ICU practice. The team is particularly interested in discovering how various patient-, provider-, and organization-level characteristics and implementation strategies effect ABCDEF bundle adoption.

The results of this work aim to lead directly to the development of implementation strategies that are adaptable, responsive to the needs of the critical care community and accountable for the cultural and organizational factors necessary to increase ABCDEF bundle adoption.

“Our team is thrilled to lead this important line of investigation. We firmly believe that better integration of the evidence-based ABCDEF bundle has the potential to substantially reduce the short- and long-term physical, cognitive and emotional burden critical illness imposes on critically ill adults and their family members.”


Tate awarded NIH/NIA grant

The National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging (NIH/NIA) has awarded a two-year, $312,000 grant to fund the study, “A Problem Solving Intervention for Post-ICU Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults.”

The grant was awarded to Judith Tate, PhD, RN (PI), assistant professor in The Ohio State University College of Nursing. Co-investigators include Lorraine C. Mion, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Alai Tan, PhD, of the College of Nursing, and Jennifer Bogner, PhD, ABPP, FACRM, of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in the College of Medicine. The grant will run from April 15, 2019, to March 31, 2021.

“Older adults comprise more than half of all intensive care unit (ICU) days and are at risk of delirium, a common acute brain impairment associated with increased risk for dementia and altered trajectories of cognitive recovery,” the grant proposal states. “The purpose of this pilot study is to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and early efficacy of a problem-solving intervention, Post Intensive Care Unit Problem Solving (PIC-UPS) in the home setting for older adult ICU survivors suffering from post-ICU cognitive impairment.”

October 19, 2018

This fall, The Ohio State University College of Nursing received a total of over $9 million in new grant funding for research from a variety of prestigious institutions, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Cancer Society, the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and others.

“Three of these awards are particularly significant as the proposed studies are part of exciting and important interdisciplinary work led by College of Nursing faculty who are early stage investigators, which means that they are receiving their first R01 or equivalent research grant. The future looks bright for nursing and transdisciplinary science in our college,” stated Mary Beth Happ, PhD, RN, FGSA, FAAN, associate dean for research and innovation in The Ohio State University College of Nursing.

NIH funds College of Nursing research

The National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research (NIH/NINR) awarded a $191 K grant to Tondi Harrison, PhD, RN,FAAN, (PI) to fund an administrative supplement to the study, “Behavioral and physiological responses to oral feeding in infants with complex congenital heart disease.” The supplement, from NIH’s INCLUDE program (INvestigation of Co-occurring conditions across the Lifespan to Understand Down SyndromE), will support the addition of infants who have both Down syndrome and congenital heart disease to the study. Harrison is an associate professor in the College of Nursing.

The NIH/NINR also awarded a $423 K, three-year career development grant to Shannon Gillespie, PhD, RN, assistant professor, Martha S. Pitzer Center for Women, Children & Youth. Her study, “Maternal Immune Responsiveness as Clinical Target for Preterm Birth Prevention” (The MIRACL Study) will test a novel method of identifying women at risk for inflammatory preterm birth and determining whether specific preventive interventions are likely to offer benefit during the pregnancy.

Recent grants from the NIH also include a $3.3 million NIH/NIA R01 to Todd Monroe, PhD, RN-BC, FNAP, FGSA, FAAN, (PI); a $2.8 million NIH/NIA R01 to Jodi McDaniel, PhD, RN, (PI) and colleagues, and a $1.8 million NIH/NINR R01 to Carmen Giurgescu, PhD, RN, WHNP, and colleagues at Wayne State University.

“All of our new NIH funding provides evidence of the fantastic cutting-edge research being conducted by our nationally renowned faculty and the terrific research infrastructure that is provided by our college so that our faculty can achieve their dreams and produce major positive impact through their work,” stated Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, PhD, RN, APRN-CNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN, vice president for health promotion, university chief wellness officer and dean and professor in the College of Nursing.

Other prestigious institutions support College of Nursing research

The American Cancer Society awarded a five-year, $1.7 million grant to Jennifer Kue, PhD, for the Intergenerational Refugee and Immigrant Cancer Screening Project.

The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners awarded a foundation grant to Assistant Professor Lisa Kinsella Militello, PhD, MPH, RN, CPNP, to fund the study, “A Solution-Focused Approach: What Low-Income Parents with Young Children Need from Stress-Regulation Smartphone Apps.” IT Project Scientist Emre Sezgin, PhD, of Nationwide Children’s Hospital is a co-investigator on the project.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awarded a grant to Pam Lusk, DNP, RN, FAANP, clinical associate professor, for the study, “Integrating Adolescent Substance Abuse Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) throughout Social Work and Nursing Education.”

The Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation awarded grants to  Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN, APRN-CNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN, (PI) and colleagues and  Laureen Smith, PhD, RN, FAAN, (PI) and colleagues.

October 15, 2018

The American Cancer Society has awarded a $1.7 million, five-year grant to fund the “Intergenerational Refugee and Immigrant Cancer Screening Project.” The grant was awarded to Jennifer Kue, PhD, (PI) who is an assistant professor in the Center of Excellence in Critical and Complex Care and director of the Office of Global Innovations at The Ohio State University College of Nursing. Co-investigators include Maryam Lustberg, MD, MPH, medical director of survivorship at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute; and Usha Menon, PhD, RN, FAAN and Laura Szalacha, EdD, both of University of South Florida.

While the rates for breast and cervical cancer in the U.S. have either remained stable or declined in the past two decades in most racial and ethnic populations, Asian Americans, specifically Southeast Asians, have experienced a significant rise in cancer incidence. Despite evidence that regular cancer screening reduces breast and cervical cancer mortality, Southeast Asian refugee and immigrant women continue to have strikingly low rates of screening.

“Early detection of breast and cervical cancer through regular screening is critical to reducing cancer morbidity and mortality rates and remains a significant national public health priority,” Kue stated. “Cancer is the leading cause of death in Southeast Asian refugee and immigrant women living in the U.S. Our intervention study will be the first to be implemented with Southeast Asian refugee and immigrant women in Ohio. The outcomes of this study will contribute to our long-term goal to improve breast and cervical cancer screening rates among Southeast Asian women.”

This multi-faceted intervention, combining culturally tailored messages and navigation from community health advisors in community and health clinic settings, has high potential for scalability across settings and diseases for hard-to-reach populations. In addition, this study focuses on breast and cervical cancer screening jointly, rather than centering on one cancer screening at a time, potentially increasing the efficiency and public health impact.

September 17, 2018

The National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging (NIH/NIA) has awarded a five-year, $3.3 million R01 grant to fund the study titled, “Sex Differences in Pain Reports and Brain Activation in Older Adults with Alzheimer’s Disease.” The grant was awarded to Todd Monroe, PhD, RN-BC, FNAP, FGSA, FAAN, (PI) associate professor in The Ohio State University College of Nursing.

Monroe’s interdisciplinary team will include faculty from the College of Nursing, the Departments of Neurology and Geriatrics, and the Wright Center of Innovation in Biomedical Imaging at Ohio State, as well as collaborators from Vanderbilt University.

“Older adults with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are at risk of having their pain undertreated. We do know that healthy males and females experience pain differently. It is not known if these sex-differences extend into the AD population. This study will provide research focused on better management of pain in people with AD,” Monroe stated in the proposal. “Poorly treated pain in older adults with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a critical public health problem and understanding sex and AD-related differences in pain function is an NIA priority area.”

The proposal stated that when compared to healthy adults, and in the presence of similarly known painful conditions, older adults with AD receive less pain medication. Reasons for this discrepancy are poorly understood. Meanwhile, inadequately treated pain negatively impacts quality of life and increases health care costs.

The research will examine how verbal pain reporting patterns in responses to acute experimental thermal pain differs between older males and females with and without AD and how these sex-differences map onto regional and network brain functional changes. The study aims to determine whether sensory (stimulus intensity) and affective (stimulus unpleasantness) responses differ by sex in people with and without AD during cutaneous thermal stimulation. Examining baseline differences in experimental thermal pain between males and females with and without AD will provide a foundation for understanding factors that may contribute to untreated pain risk, as well as for developing sex-specific novel assessment, prevention, and treatment strategies in the older population with AD.

September 13, 2018

The Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation has announced that it will award two of the eight 2018 Hillman Emergent Innovation grants to projects led by researchers from The Ohio State University College of Nursing. These grants support nursing-driven innovation for vulnerable populations.

Both projects innovate with collaboration between the College of Nursing and other Ohio State colleges. The projects are:

  • Turning Sick Care into Well Care for Homebound Older Adults and Their Pets
    Pets are highly valued companions and can be especially helpful in improving health outcomes in homebound elderly populations who may otherwise be isolated. POP (Pet Owner and Pet) Care creates an inter-professional team consisting of a nurse practitioner, a veterinarian and a social worker to address the healthcare needs of homebound older adults and their pets. The expectation is that the improved health of the person-pet dyad will correlate with better health and well-being outcomes for the pet owner.

Principal Investigator: Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN, APRN-CNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN, The Ohio State University College of Nursing.

Co-Is: Laurie Millward, DVM, MS, DACVP, The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Holly Dabelko-Schoeny, PhD, The Ohio State University College of Social Work.

  • Peer Mentoring Middle School Youth in Appalachia to Improve Lifestyle Behaviors and Health Outcomes
    Young people in rural Appalachia suffer from worse health outcomes and practice fewer positive health behaviors than their counterparts elsewhere in the U.S. Leveraging the power of peer group dynamics and social networking, this nurse-designed initiative trains tenth-grade mentors to help guide middle school students towards lifelong healthy behaviors and improved health outcomes.

Principal Investigator: Laureen Smith, PhD, RN, FAAN, The Ohio State University College of Nursing.

Co-Is: Rick Petosa, PhD, The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology and Abigail Shoben, PhD, The Ohio State University College of Public Health.

These projects were selected from an initial pool of over 140 applicants for the highly competitive grants. Read more about the program and projects selected.

August 22, 2018

The Helene Fuld Health Trust National Institute for Evidence-based Practice in Nursing and Healthcare has awarded its inaugural round of grants. The grants are intended to provide an opportunity to stimulate and advance evidence-based practice (EBP) and implementation science in nursing and healthcare across the United States. 

The grants were awarded to Linda Quinlin, DNP, APRN-CNS, APRN-CNP, ACHPN, and Kerry A. Milner, DNCs, RN, for EBP and research projects, respectively.

Quinlin was awarded the EBP grant for “Quality Improvement Project: Incorporating Evidence Based Practice into the Nursing Culture at Ohio’s Hospice Inc.” The purpose of her project is to incorporate EBP into the nursing culture at Ohio’s Hospice Incorporated (OHI). Implementing EBP will involve a systematic culture change within OHI.

The funding from the grant will be applied to professionally recording a presentation, “Questioning Common Clinical Practices: What does the Evidence Show? A Primer to EBP,” to educate OHI nurses onsite and online about how to begin their journeys with EBP and put science into practice.

Other interventions will be implemented to enrich nurses’ knowledge leading up to OHI Poster Day 2018, a celebration of EBP. This interdisciplinary event is designed to inspire excellence in innovation, research and EBP. The celebration will begin with an EBP presentation by a local nurse researcher and be followed by a poster display of EBP projects completed by OHI nurses.

Milner was awarded the research grant for “Visitation Practices in Magnet and Pathway to Excellence Facilities with Adult Intensive Care Units.” This study aims to answer the questions “What are the visitation policies in adult ICUs in Magnet and Pathway to Excellence designated healthcare facilities?” and “What are the methods for implementation and sustainment of open visitation in these facilities?”

The study stems from the conflict of restrictive visitor policies in adult ICUs, which continue to be the norm across the U.S. Milner hopes to alleviate the lack of research surrounding methods for implementing and sustaining open-visitation policies.

The study will use cross-sectional, sequential and mixed-method survey designs to identify facilities with open-visitation adult ICUs, survey program directors of eligible facilities about methods of implementation and lay the foundation for future studies on the impact of open visitation policies on patient and family outcomes.

Nursing and social work students will be engaged in all aspects of the research under investigator mentorship.

All grant proposals were reviewed by a committee chaired by Sharon Tucker, PhD, RN, FAAN, with members Kirsten M. Hanrahan, ARNP, DNP; Richard Ricciardi, PhD, NP, FAANP, FAAN; Sheila C. Sullivan, PhD, RN; Elisa Jang, RN; Sonia A. Duffy, PhD, RN, FAAN; Beth A. Vottero, PhD, RN, CNE; and Ruth Labardee, DNP, RN, CNL, NEA-BC.

July 09, 2018

Two grants proposed by the College of Nursing have been awarded by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

A $1.39 million, two-year grant titled, Practice Partnership for APN Education,” will help to support an innovative academic partnership between The Ohio State University College of Nursing and the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers (OACHC) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) across the state. The program offers the College of Nursing advanced-practice nursing faculty the opportunity to work with primary-care preceptors across the state in FQHCs to help prepare primary-care, advanced-practice nursing students in the family, pediatric, adult gerontology, women’s health and midwifery programs to facilitate graduates’ employment in rural and underserved areas.  

 A second four-year grant for $2.76 million, titled Preparing the RN Workforce to Practice in Primary Care to the Full Scope of Their License,” will help to support an innovative academic partnership between The Ohio State University College of Nursing, PrimaryOne Health, the Community Health & Wellness Partners of Logan County, Total Health and Wellness Center and other FQHCs in Ohio to recruit and  educate pre-nursing students and current registered nurses to practice to the full scope of their license in community-based primary care. This academic partnership will strengthen the College of Nursing faculty’s ability to increase the distribution of primary-care nurses in rural and underserved areas by adding additional clinical placements over the four-year funding period.

Margaret Graham, PhD, APRN-CNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN, vice dean and associate professor in the College of Nursing is project director for each grant. Graham was assisted in the writing of the second grant by Wendy Bowles, PhD, RN, APRN-CNP; Cindy Anderson, PhD, RN, APRN-CNP, ANEF, FAHA, FNAP, FAAN; and Awais Ali, BA. Melissa Pavolino, BS, and Fran Eppich, MBA, provided support for preparation of each grant.

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