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May 27, 2010

Research Notes

Nursing grants awarded

The School of Nursing announced a number of recipients who recently were awarded research grants and awards. Among them were:

Mandy Bell and Jill Radtke, PhD candidates, and Grace Campbell, a student in the Doctor of Philosophy program and nurse educator at the UPMC Institute for Rehabilitation and Research, who received predoctoral research training awards from the National Institute of Nursing Research.

Bell received $123,528 for her work on discovering a link between a genetic pathway and pre-eclampsia. Her research focuses on identifying women at risk for the condition and intervening before it escalates.

Radtke received $115,774 for her work related to breastfeeding within the late preterm population. Campbell received $153,890 to explore whether certain types of cognitive impairment are predictive of patient falls after a stroke.

• Department of Health Promotion and Development faculty  members  Denise  Charron-Prochownik and Margaret S. Hannan. Charron-Prochownik received a $91,163 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 stimulus grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development for her research on reproductive health intervention for teen girls with diabetes.

Hannan received a $2,500 grant from the International Transplant Nurses Society for her research on the reproductive health communication between adolescent female liver transplant recipients and their mothers.

Biological sciences gets $2 million for science ed efforts

Efforts within the University’s Department of Biological Sciences to encourage aspiring scientists at the precollege and undergraduate levels have been rewarded with two grants totaling $2 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), as well as the renewed appointment of department chair and Eberly Family Professor Graham Hatfull as one of 13 HHMI Professors nationwide.

One award supports programs that seek to improve science education; the other supports the programs of individual research scientists taking innovative approaches to science education. Institutions and faculty members must be invited to apply for each grant.

The four-year grants Pitt received will support academic initiatives that cultivate high school and undergraduate students’ interest in science and biology by involving them in research.

The $1.2 million Precollege and Undergraduate Science Education grant will support the biological sciences department’s summer undergraduate research program. The 2010 grant is the department’s fourth since 1992 and brings the combined total to $6.8 million.

The other grant of $800,000 comes as a result of Hatfull’s selection for the HHMI Professors program. That grant will be used to support Hatfull’s nationally implemented phage hunter program. Established in 2002, the program takes students into the field to collect and study the genetics of bacteriophages, tiny viruses that infect bacteria and show promise in treating such human diseases as tuberculosis.

Pitt was among seven institutions to be selected for both awards, along with Harvard, Louisiana State, MIT, UCLA, Washington University in St. Louis and Yale.

In 2008, HHMI took the program nationwide as part of its Science Education Alliance initiative, and more than 800 freshmen at 44 universities have been introduced to the yearlong course.

Hatfull previously was named an HHMI Professor in 2002 as well as an HHMI “Million-Dollar Professor,” receiving a $1 million grant to support the phage hunter project.


The University Times Research Notes column reports on funding awarded to Pitt researchers as well as findings arising from University research.

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