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College of Nursing Awarded Nearly $2 Million from NINR to Help Patients with Multiple Chronic Health Conditions

Sue Gardner
Barb Rakel

Five-year grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research to establish an Exploratory Center of Excellence

The University of Iowa College of Nursing was recently informed that it has been awarded a five-year, $1.9 million grant (1P20NR018081-01) from the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Funding will be used to establish an Exploratory Center of Excellence, which will be called the UI Center for Advancing Multimorbidity Science (CAMS).

UI’s center was one of only five in the nation that was awarded funding. These five centers will be charged with building research infrastructure and centralized resources to catalyze new interdisciplinary, biobehavioral research teams that will tackle the challenges of conducting research on human adults with multiple complex chronic conditions.

“This award is important to the college and the university – not only for the prestige of being designated an NIH center of excellence in symptom and multimorbidity science, but more importantly, for the potential of making significant contributions to improve the lives of patients with multiple chronic conditions,” noted Professor Sue Gardner, co-director of the center.

The center will support research that profiles patient risk and symptom expression in order to propel the future development of customized therapies for adults with multiple chronic conditions. Given that patients often present at clinic visits with not just one but multiple chronic conditions, addressing multimorbidity in health care has emerged as a national priority. Multimorbidity science entails a shift in clinical practice from a single disease focus to an approach that addresses multiple symptoms and chronic conditions within patients’ social and biological contexts.

CAMS will utilize a multifactorial approach to research by creating an integrative analytics core that will link nurse scientists with experts using advanced, computationally intensive analytic methods that can detect patterns and identify patient profiles from the unique constellation of symptoms and conditions represented by each patient. CAMS will focus on providing infrastructure and resources to new investigators concentrating on two emerging fields of study: Multimorbidity Science and Symptom Science. Through this work, clinicians and scientists will ultimately be able to identify individuals who are most likely to develop specific conditions and symptoms, and respond with customized therapies.

“This center will help shift clinical practice from a single disease focus to one considering the interaction of multiple conditions and symptoms so clinicians can care for these patients in a more targeted and customized manner. This, in turn, should reduce health care costs and improve patient outcomes,” explained Professor Barb Rakel, who will co-direct the center with Gardner.

CAMS includes an administrative core overseen by Directors Gardner and Rakel; a pilot administrative core that provides pilot funding for junior investigators (directed by Keela Herr); an enrichment program (directed by Janet Williams and Sandra Daack-Hirsch); and an integrative analytics core (directed by Nick Street and Boyd Knosp). The Principal Investigators of the center’s first two pilot projects will be Assistant Professors Catherine Cherwin (pilot title: Gastrointestinal Microbiome, Obesity, and Chemotherapy: Influences on Symptom Burden in Women with Breast Cancer Receiving Chemotherapy), and Stephanie Gilbertson-White (Evaluating Symptom Variability in Multimorbidity and Advanced Cancer).

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Posted On: 
Aug 20th, 2018