Pilot Grant Awardees

Image with caption: Research by Robin Lally, Ph.D., addresses significant cancer-related distress in women with breast cancer.

Research by Robin Lally, Ph.D., addresses significant cancer-related distress in women with breast cancer.

The Great Plains IDeA-Clinical Translational Research (GP-CTR) Network at UNMC has announced nine awardees for its 2017 Pilot Program grants, including four from UNMC.

The goal of the program, administered through a National Institutes of Health/National Institute of General Medical Sciences grant, is to develop successful CTR investigators. To achieve this goal, selected scientists and health professionals are provided partial salary support and up to $50,000, to assist preliminary research efforts for one year.

Nine scholars were chosen: four from UNMC, two from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, one from the University of Nebraska-Kearney and two from University of South Dakota. UNMC awardees are: 

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Thuy Koll, M.D.
Thuy Koll, M.D., instructor, division of geriatric medicine, UNMC Department of Internal Medicine
According to Dr. Koll, understanding the cognitive and functional outcomes after stem cell transplant in older adults with hematologic malignancies is essential to facilitate recovery for the prevention and development of interventions. Her study, "Cognition, Physical Function and Quality of Life Following Stem Cell Transplantation in Older Adults," aims to develop clinically useful strategies to identify older adults at high risk for cognitive decline and design interventions to mitigate cognitive and functional decline.

Robin Lally, Ph.D., professor, UNMC College of Nursing
Her research, Facilitating Oncology Patient-Clinician Communication via E-health Innovations, addresses significant cancer-related distress in women with breast cancer. Approximately 50 percent of women with breast cancer experience anxiety or depression in the first year after diagnosis. Poor mental health reduces quality of life and is costly to society. Her study will assess the feasibility of using the new internet-based, self-guided psychoeducational program, "CaringGuidance After Breast CancerDiagnosis" and its electronic Summary Report (CGSR) tool to address gaps in psychological care and communication. The results will guide modification of the CGSR, of the effectiveness in supporting patient-clinician communication and contributing to the reduction of distress/depression of women with breast cancer in rural and urban areas. 

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Jingwei Xie, Ph.D.
Jingwei Xie, Ph.D., assistant professor, UNMC Department of Surgery
About half of battlefield deaths in modern warfare are secondary to uncontrolled hemorrhage, which typically involves the torso and/or limb junctional zones. Dr. Xie's research, "Injectable and Expandable Nanofiber-based Foams for Management of Noncompressible Torso Hemorrhage," addresses the challenge in management of non-compressible torso and/or junctional hemorrhage. The goal is to develop the technology to generate injectable and expandable nanofiber-based foams incorporated with human clotting factors. It is expected that this foam will be efficacious in the management of noncompressible torso hemorrhage. The impact of such a device will be to improve the outcome from a potentially survivable noncompressible torso hemorrhage with severe blood loss in both civilian and military scenarios. The device will allow prehospital stabilization of this severe injury type, thus permitting a victim to arrive alive at a hospital surgical facility. 


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Chi Zhang, M.D.
Chi Zhang, M.D., assistant professor, UNMC Department of Radiation Oncology
Dr. Zhang's project, "Targeting Androgen Receptors (AR) to Treat Glioblastoma (GBM), a Translational Research Using Primary Human GBM Cell Cultures and Animal Models," addresses glioblastoma (GBM), which is the most common type of brain cancer, and is almost universally lethal with very few long-term survivors. The standard treatment for this cancer comprises surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, which usually takes more than half a year to complete. Dr. Zhang's research will examine the anti-tumor effects of enzalutamide on a syngeneic orthotopic brain implant GBM mice model with or without brain radiation therapy (RT) in vivo. The goal is to confirm AR expression and the drug effectiveness in GBM cancer cells isolated directly from the patients and in a GBM tumor mice model. If enzalutamide effects can be confirmed in the study, the knowledge already known about using the drug in prostate cancer can help to accelerate developing a new treatment for GBM by directly going for a clinical trial on GBM patients.