Research News

UB nursing faculty receive grants

Front view of Wende Hall, home fo the school of Nursing

Wende Hall, home of the School of Nursing. Photo: Douglas Levere

By MARCENE ROBINSON

Published April 3, 2018

Two faculty members in the School of Nursing received new awards to both understand the role that access to health care plays in treatment for low-income cancer patients and survivors, and to decode the brain’s response to food and alcohol following bariatric surgery for weight loss.

Darryl Somayaji, assistant professor, received a $50,000 grant from the UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Pilot Studies Program to lead the investigation of health outcomes for lung cancer patients and survivors on Medicaid.

headshot of Darryl Somayaji

Darryl Somayaji

The CTSI Pilot Studies Program provides seed funding to faculty to help advance promising new technologies and therapeutics from the conceptual stage to clinical studies. Funding for the program is provided by the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Award, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, and several schools and offices across UB.

The study will examine de-identified claims from the New York State Medicaid Data Warehouse and New York State Cancer Registry to determine if health care utilization patterns meet guidelines for timely diagnosis and treatment, and if access to care has an impact on patient mortality.

The research will lay the groundwork for improving health care models and tackling the inequalities of care faced by Medicaid-insured individuals diagnosed with cancer.

Additional investigators include Ekaterina Noyes, professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, and Gregory Wilding, professor and chair of the Department of Biostatistics, both in the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions; and Peter Elkin, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics, and Manoj Mammen, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, both in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

Laura Anderson, a licensed psychologist and assistant professor of nursing, was awarded the Innovative Micro-Programs Accelerating Collaboration in Themes (IMPACT) grant from the UB Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

Headshot of Laura Anderson

Laura Anderson

The award for nearly $30,000 will support her investigation of the factors behind excessive weight regain following bariatric surgery, which occurs in more than 40 percent of patients. The study also may shed light on the controversial phenomenon of addiction transfer — from food to substances — following bariatric surgery.

Utilizing groups of patients who successfully and unsuccessfully underwent gastric-bypass surgery, the investigators will study the impact of genetic addiction risk on health outcomes, and examine brain activity in patients when exposed to cues for food and alcohol.

The study is the first to use electroencephalogram (EEG) signaling — the recording of electrical activity in the brain from the scalp — in post-operative bariatric patients. The activity may provide clues to the reasons some patients succeed after surgery while others relapse.

Investigators hope the results will provide the foundation for larger studies that will ultimately help improve the effectiveness of precision bariatric medicine programs — tailor-made interventions that account for addiction status, genetic vulnerability and bias toward food or alcohol cues.

Supported by the IMPACT award, which backs preliminary research that fosters unique collaborations across disciplines, the grant will unite faculty from the School of Nursing, the Jacobs School and UB’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA).

In addition to Anderson, investigators include Elsa Daurignac, research assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry in the Jacobs School; Kenneth Leonard, senior research scientist and RIA director; and Panayotis Thanos, RIA senior research scientist.

“We are very excited that two of our faculty received funding to further develop their programs of research,” says Yu-Ping Chang, Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Endowed Professor and associate dean for research and scholarship in the School of Nursing.

“Both of their studies are interdisciplinary and translational in nature, and are addressing significant clinical problems directly related to patients’ health and health care delivery. It is especially meaningful and encouraging to have our nursing faculty take the lead on such important projects,” Chang says. “Nurses are the front line heath care providers and are well-positioned to conduct translational research projects.”