Research and Grant Funding

Texas-based PhD candidate Johnson receives travel grant

June2014 PhD Johnson AnnAnn H. Johnson, MSN, RN, CPNP, a PhD candidate in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing has received a $1000 Ireland Research Travel Award for her dissertation, "The Effects of Perceived Stress, Sleep, and Cortisol on Fatigue in 8 to 12 Year-Old Childhood Central Nervous System Cancer Survivors."

Johnson is measuring the perceived stress level of school age central nervous system cancer survivors with brain and spinal cord tumors and also exploring stress response by measuring their salivary cortisol levels. She hypothesizes that cortisol stress response has mediating effects on the relationships between perceived stress, sleep and fatigue. Her results will shed light on the fatigue that cancer patients may be experiencing.


UAB School of Nursing awarded prestigious R01 grant to study infants born preterm

To view the UAB News release by Tyler Greer please click here.

June Cho cropJune Cho, Ph.D., assistant professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Nursing, has been awarded a five-year, $1.72 million R01 grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Development for her proposal “Testosterone and Cortisol Levels in Infant Health and Development.”

The grant will enable Cho and her research team to address the health and developmental problems that result when infants are born preterm — gestational age shorter than 34 weeks —and at a very low birth weight (VLBW; birth weight less than 1,500 grams).


UAB School of Nursing gets $1.2 million to educate military veterans

To read the original UAB News release by Tyler Greer please click here
The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing has received a four-year, $1.2 million grant from the Health Services Resources Administration to develop a program to help veterans with military medical experience more easily transition into the nursing profession.



UAB School of Nursing Ph.D. student receives and AACN scholarship

To read the original UAB News by Tyler Greer please click here

UAB School of Nursing graduate student Bryan Wilbanks, DNP, CRNA, was selected to receive the and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing scholarship of $2,500. Wilbanks was awarded this prestigious scholarship based on merit and demonstrated leadership skills. 

Wilbanks earned his Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the UAB School of Nursing in 2012 and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. with a concentration in informatics. He worked as a nurse anesthetist at Huntsville Hospital for more than 10 years, and continues to work part time as a certified registered nurse anesthetists while completing his Ph.D.

Wilbanks stays active in the nurse anesthesia professional community by participating in research projects with the American Association of Nurse Anesthesia and serving as the research chair of Alabama Association of Nurse Anesthetists. Wilbanks was also selected to receive a scholarship from the Alabama Board of Nursing for this academic year. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing is the national voice for baccalaureate and graduate nursing education. AACN’s educational, research, federal advocacy, data collection, publications and special programs work to establish quality standards for nursing education; assist deans and directors to implement those standards; influence the nursing profession to improve health care; and promote public support for professional nursing education, research and practice.

UAB nursing school to study palliative care for vets, minorities, rural cancer patients

To view the original UAB News release by Jennifer Lollar please click here.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing has received a four-year, $720,000 grant from the American Cancer Society to study whether a phone-based palliative care intervention can help reduce access disparities for veterans, minorities and patients from rural areas who have advanced cancer.

Marie_Bakitas_sPalliative care focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of illness. Research shows that when patients with incurable cancer receive palliative care along with regular cancer treatment, they have a better quality of life, as well as less symptoms and depression, and they may live longer.

Over the past decade, the study’s principal investigator, Marie A. Bakitas, D.N.Sc., APRN, FAAN, professor of nursing and Marie L. O'Koren Endowed Chair, has worked to develop Project ENABLE (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends), a phone-based palliative care intervention for patients. Initial work has been done in an academic medical center setting.

“Nearly 60 million Americans, many of them veterans and ethnic minorities, live in rural areas where few palliative care services exist,” Bakitas said. “The American Cancer Society has set a nationwide objective to eliminate cancer disparities by 2015. Given that advanced cancer patients in rural areas are less likely to benefit from palliative services due to limited access and suboptimal care, we believe this intervention will provide an innovative way for cancer centers in these areas to provide palliative care.”

In the original ENABLE II study, a specially trained advanced practice nurse coached patients and their caregivers through a series of structured telephone sessions on topics such as problem solving, communication, symptom management and self-care, as well as medical decision-making. The participants had four weekly educational sessions and monthly follow-up sessions.

Research shows that when patients with incurable cancer receive palliative care along with regular cancer treatment, they have a better quality of life, as well as less symptoms and depression, and they may live longer.
In the June 2009 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Bakitas and colleagues published conclusive findings on Project ENABLE’s effectiveness at a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in New Hampshire, its affiliated outreach clinics and a Veteran’s Affairs medical center in Vermont. They now want to know if the intervention can be as effective for patients and their caregivers from rural areas, outside the reach of an academic medical center.

“The patients who underwent this intervention had a better quality of life, less depression and lived longer than patients who received only regular cancer care,” Bakitas said. “This is extending the results of that study to patients and family members in the community.”

Bakitas said the project will target four communities representing rural geography and/or ethnic and racial diversity: Birmingham, Ala. (Birmingham VA Medical Center); Grand Rapids, Mich.; Spartanburg, SC.; and Bangor, Maine. Project teams at each site will work together over the next four years to tailor ENABLE to their individual communities.

“Our short-term goal is to learn the best way to bring palliative care services to patients and families to improve care and quality of life, as well as reduce the burden of cancer in these four communities,” Bakitas said. “We also will develop a toolkit that can be used to implement the model.”

The project’s long-term goal, Bakitas added, is to make this project accessible to patients and family members in other non-academic community cancer centers across the country.

“In so doing, we hope to reduce the suffering of patients living with cancer nationwide,” she said.

May 13-17, 2013, is National VA Research Week. On May 15, Bakitas is discussing a related project involving veterans during a poster presentation at the Birmingham VA Medical Center. The poster, “Oncology Clinicians’ Perspectives on Providing Palliative Care for Patients with Advanced Cancer,” was built upon data collected from her palliative care research at White River Junction VA Medical Center in Vermont.