2018 Scholar Award Recipients

Trey Andrews, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Institute for Ethnic Studies
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Bio
Project: Enhancing Fotonovelas to Leverage Informal Networks and Improve Connections to Services (Foto-LINCS).

“This proposal focuses on Latinx victims of violence. Latinx populations experience significant disparities in multiple types of violence exposure, but have much lower access to mental health services. Additionally, many Latinx individuals suggest they prefer informal pathways to care, such as through friends or family members. Finally, among Latinxs, the social mechanisms associated with mental health service utilization may assume greater significance, given a complex constellation of differences, at least relative to whites. These include: higher violence exposure, family support, and stigma but lower mental health literacy, friend support, and mental health disorder prevalence. The project will develop a fotonovela that can further test the downstream impacts of peer/family education and stigma interventions for individuals with some of the most common mental health difficulties. As a result, conducting this project with a focus on Latinx populations may afford the research with a maximal opportunity to reduce disparities and gain key insights into social mechanisms of mental health service utilization.”
Mentors: Kirk Dombrowski, PhD (UNL), Bilal Khan, PhD (UNL)

Janelle Beadle, PHD
Assistant Professor, Department of Gerontology, Public Affairs and Community Service University of Nebraska Omaha
Bio
Project: The Psychological, Neural, and Hormonal Bases of Caregiver Compassion Fatigue.

“Currently, adults 65 years and older make up 15% of the United States population, and by 2060 this percentage is expected to nearly double to 24%. Among this age group, one in 10 will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, there is a critical need for high quality, empathetic caregivers to provide support to older adults with dementia. An important issue facing caregivers is compassion fatigue which is the experience of secondary traumatic stress symptoms which is associated with a reduced capacity to provide compassionate care to others. Caregivers who experience compassion fatigue are at greater risk for developing depression, and may be more likely to provide poorer quality care to their patients. The present study investigates this critical issue by examining the psychological, brain, and hormonal risk factors for caregiver compassion fatigue.”
Mentors: Tony Wilson, PhD (UNMC), Jeffrey French, PhD (UNO), Steve Bonasera, MD, PhD (UNMC)

Vijaya Bhatt, MD
Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine Division of Oncology & Hematology
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Bio
Project: A phase II trial of the impact of clinicogenetic risk-stratified management on outcomes of acute myeloid leukemia in older patients.

“The cancer registries in the Great Plains region demonstrate that older adults are at an increased risk of cancer and cancer-related deaths. Older patients with leukemia, an aggressive blood cancer, have many side effects during intensive cancer therapy and are at risk of dying early after the diagnosis. These older patients tell their doctors they value quality of life over living with lower physical or mental health status caused by cancer therapy. Whereas intensive chemotherapy may improve survival of some patients who are fit, use of less intensive therapy in patients with lower physical or mental health may result in lower risk of serious side effects and early death. Genetic markers present in leukemia cells help doctors identify which older patients have a lower chance of survival when treated with intensive cancer therapy. A geriatric assessment of the older patient’s physical and mental health status also can predict the risk of serious side effects and death. In this study, the investigators will utilize geriatric assessment and genetic markers to personalize selection of the intensity of therapy for older adults with acute myeloid leukemia.”
Mentors: James Armitage, MD (UNMC), Ann Berger, PhD (UNMC), Sarah Holstein, MD, PhD (UNMC)
Team Members: Christopher Wichman, PhD (UNMC) and Thuy Koll, MD (UNMC)

Bryant England, MD
Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine Division of Rheumatology
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Bio
Project: Multimorbidity Phenotypes and their Relationship with Patient Outcomes and Health Care Utilization in U.S. Veterans with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

“The growing prevalence of multimorbidity, the presence of multiple chronic conditions, and resultant poor health outcomes make it one of the biggest challenges facing healthcare systems across the U.S. The troubles accompanying multimorbidity are even more problematic in rural settings within the Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network where health care disparities, including limited access to care, exist. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that itself promotes premature mortality, physical disability, and the development of additional chronic diseases, making it an ideal model to study multimorbidity. To date, scientific and clinical advancements in multimorbidity for this high-risk population (RA) have been delayed by a poor understanding of the epidemiology and inadequate methods to assess multimorbidity”.
Mentors: Ted Mikuls, MD, MSPH (UNMC), Kaleb Michaud, PhD (UNMC)
Team Members:Fang Yu, PhD (UNMC), Brian Sauer, PhD (Utah), Christian Haas, PhD (UNO), Lotfollah Najjar, PhD (UNO)

Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham PhD
Instructor,Department of Neurological Sciences
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Bio
Project: Multimodal Investigation into the Effects of Hearing Loss on Cognitive and Neural Development.

“It is well-established that children who are hard of hearing (CHH) suffer from language and communication delays throughout development compared to children with norm al hearing (CNH). However, CHH also present with other behavioral deficits that are not immediately linked to hearing loss. These deficits include a wealth of cognitive difficulties and attention issues, which may arise as a byproduct of the increased attentional demands required in the absence of quality auditory input. Nonetheless, current research on the impact of hearing loss on attention and memory is mixed, and the effects of hearing loss on the neural networks that underlie higher-order cognitive processing in CHH remain elusive. This project will utilize state-of-the-art neuroimaging with magnetoencephalography (MEG) and MRI, coupled with advanced audiometric measures, to determine the behavioral and neural aberrations associated with high-order cognitive processing in CHH compared to CNH."
Mentors: Ryan McCreery, PhD (BTNRH)

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