Enhancing Nursing Education
||Gloria J. McNeal, PhD, APRN, BC, associate professor and assistant dean, Student Affairs, UMDNJ-School of Nursing, received more than $896,000 in grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for the following projects: A three-year, $802,000 grant for "Nurse Education, Practice and Retention: Career Ladder," a one-year, $72,736 grant for "Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship," and a one-year, $21,438 grant for "Nurse Anesthetist Traineeship."
Another HRSA grant, "Enhancing Success in Advanced Practice Nursing Program," is designed to improve access to diverse and culturally competent health professionals by increasing the number of Hispanic, African-American and Asian nurses recruited, enrolled in and graduated from the MSN program at the School of Nursing. In addition, a comprehensive program incorporating academic support services, career advisement and mentoring activities to retain and graduate more advanced practice nurses in New Jersey who are culturally, racially and ethnically diverse will be implemented. The project also aims to assure that the MSN curriculum includes content and clinical experiences relevant to the development of cultural competence.
Fetal Growth and Nutrient Availablity
|Nicholas P. Illsley, D.Phil, professor, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health, and Pharmacology and Physiology, at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, has been awarded a five-year, $1,938,502 grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development for "Coordination of Fetal Growth by Nutrient Availability."
Abnormalities in fetal growth can lead to increased morbidity and mortality in the perinatal period and are also associated with an increased risk of hypertension, ischemic heart disease and diabetes in adulthood. Illsley and his team believe the availability of nutrients to the fetus impacts the growth of the fetus and the placenta, either directly through the stimulation of cellular growth or indirectly through the release of fetal and placental growth factors.
"Our studies will examine this hypothesis by comparing normal pregnancies and those in which the fetus fails to grow to its normal birth weight, a situation known as fetal growth restriction," he says. "We will compare nutrient availability and growth factors in the two conditions." They predict that nutrient availability and growth factor release will be significantly decreased in fetal growth restriction compared to the normal pregnancies.
Better understanding the mechanisms of fetal growth restriction will aid in the design of therapeutic interventions to prevent this and other complex perinatal pathologies, including preeclampsia, prematurity and diabetes in pregnancy, which also involve growth restriction.
Air Pollution and Heart Attack
||Howard M. Kipen, MD, MPH, professor, Department of Environmental & Occupational Medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), and colleagues from the Department of Medicine, UMDNJ-School of Public Health, and Rutgers University, have received a four-year, $1,521,398 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to study mechanisms by which air pollution may increase the risk of heart attacks.
Studies conducted in many cities around the world suggest that breathing in fine particles emitted from cars and power plants can increase lung and heart disease. The smallest (ultrafine) particles appear to trigger heart attacks in susceptible individuals within hours. This study tests a mechanism whereby inhaled particles can trigger changes in blood vessels and blood cells that might lead to a heart attack in a susceptible person.
Healthy volunteers, age 20 to 30, who are free of known risk factors for heart attacks, will breathe diesel engine particles at levels characteristic of mines, railroad yards or firefighting. The activation status of their blood platelets and clotting cells and the reactivity of blood vessels will be measured before and after exposure. The goal is to improve the scientific basis for the current air pollution fine particle regulations and to assist in determining if these regulations are adequately protective of human health.
Designing new Anti-Cancer Agents
||Joseph R. Bertino, MD, associate director, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and University Professor of Medicine & Pharmacology at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS), received a $1,749,375 grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the "Mechanism of Action of Folate Antagonist."
Dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) is a protein that maintains the level of folic acid in cells. Methotrexate is a folic acid look-alike and a potent drug used in the clinic to kill cancer cells by inhibiting the activity of dihydrofolate reductase. Patients sometimes develop resistance to methotrexate, which can happen when methotrexate increases the concentration of the target protein, so that the amount of the drug given is no longer enough to kill the cell.
Overcoming resistance by increasing the drug is not an option because of toxicity. One of the ways dihydrofolate reductase increases its concentration is through gene amplification. The other way is by increasing the synthesis of dihydrofolate reductase protein. A better understanding of the second mechanism is the goal of this research. "When cells are treated with methotrexate, the binding of DHFR protein to its own mRNA is disrupted, and the amount of dihydrofolate reductase levels increases by more than 10-fold. The goal of our research is to study the mechanism by which methotrexate increases the level of dihydrofolate reductase. This may lead to the design and synthesis of new anticancer agents that may circumvent this phenomenon."
Co-investigators are Debu Banerjee, PhD, associate professor, and Eminer Abali, PhD, assistant professor, both in pharmacology, RWJMS.
| Richard J. Servatius, PhD, associate professor, Department of Neurosciences and director of the Stress and Motivated Behavior Institute (SMBI) at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School (NJMS), and director of the Neurobehavioral Research Laboratory at the Department of Veterans Affairs-New Jersey Health Care System, has received a four-year, $3,312,051 Task Order Agreement from the Defense Department for "Intellectual and Academic Support Toward Conducting Neuroscientific Research, Training and Demonstrations" at the Army Research Development Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal.
The Center recently established the Homeland Defense Technology & Preparedness Center (HDTPC) to develop innovative solutions to a myriad of homeland defense issues. Among their goals will be the development and implementation of training programs for civilian first responder units (e.g. police, firefighters) and emergency operations center personnel with an emphasis on stress and stress measurement.
Reducing Health Disparities
||Mark S. Johnson, MD, MPH, professor and chair, Department of Family Medicine, Debbie Salas-Lopez, MD (right), assistant professor of medicine and chief, Division of Academic Medicine, Geriatrics and Community Programs, and Paulette D. Stanford, MD (left), associate director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, all from UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School (NJMS), received a three-year, $988,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to establish a "Primary Care Research Consortium."
The project is designed to create an interdisciplinary primary care research infrastructure for the departments of family medicine, pediatrics and internal medicine at NJMS. It will also support collaboration, clinical instruction and faculty development.
"The major focus for this consortium will be to reduce health disparities in minorities. The healthcare problems facing our underserved communities require unified solutions," says Johnson.