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Four Pilot Grants Awarded to HEALTH-RCMI Researchers and Early-Stage Investigators

Houston, TX

To nurture the research paths of early-stage investigators, pilot project grants are tailored to help jump-start their careers and offer new opportunities for emerging researchers.

In 2021-2022, four pilot grants have been awarded to NIH/NIHMD’s HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention (HEALTH-RCMI; PI: Dr. Ezemenari M. Obasi) researchers and early-stage investigators whose careers are distinguished at the University of Houston.

The recently awarded Pilot Project Grant, entitled “A Mobile Intervention for Cannabis-related Disparities Among Black Cannabis Users: A Pilot Study” is led by University of Houston researcher, Dr. Lorra Garey. Garey’s project explores smartphone apps which promise to offer an alternative to face-to-face treatment for Black American Cannabis users who wish to reduce their use. The research initiative has been awarded $50,000 by NIH/NIHMD.

Spearheading a research project exploring smoking cessation medication, Dr. Anastasia Rogova, Ph.D. was awarded a $50,000 pilot grant by NIH/NIHMD. Rogova’s research initiative is entitled “Smoking Cessation Medication: Knowledge, Experience, Concerns and Barriers to Use Among Behavioral Health Clinics.”

In an exploratory study into the feasibility of podcasting cervical cancer prevention, Dr. Chakema Carmack, Ph.D. received a $49,801 pilot grant from NIH/NIHMD. Carmack’s research project is entitled, “Proof of Concept and Feasibility in Podcasting Cervical Cancer Prevention for African-American Women.”

Launching a pilot study into endocrine therapies for recurrent breast cancer in African American women are principal investigators Dr. Meghana Trivedi, Dr. Susan Abughosh, Dr. Onyebuchi Onongbu and Dr. Rob Shimko. The research initiative has been awarded $50,000 through NIH/NIHMD. The research project is called “Interventions to Improve Adherence to Oral Endocrine Therapies for Prevention of New or Recurrent Breast Cancer in African American Women of Low Socioeconomic Status.”

Two NOSI (Notice of Special Interest) grants have also been awarded to HEALTH-RCMI researchers. The two new recently funded NOSI awards include a study on Latinx smokers, entitled “Latinx Smokers: Evaluating Ethnic Microaggressions on Smoking Behavior and Relapse” (PI: Brooke Kauffman) and a research project on lung cancer inequities among Black Adults, entitled “Addressing tobacco-related and lung cancer inequities among Black adults: A mixed methods pilot project” (PI: Maggie Britton/Dr. Isabel Leal).

Early investigator Brooke Kauffman leads the study on Latinx smokers and microaggressions. Kauffman said that the goal of pilot project was to evaluate the emotional triggers from microaggressions and how they have affected a smoker’s tendency to light up.

“Our hope is that we can use this information from our harm reduction perspective to tailor this for future intervention research,” Kauffman said.

According to Carmack who received a pilot grant to fund her research on cervical cancer among African American women, the support for early investigators and established researchers has been invaluable. Carmack also recently received a NOSI grant to spearhead an initiative for reducing the incidence of HIV and sexually transmitted infections and diseases in African American and Hispanic communities in Houston.

“The pilot grant provides a springboard for future funding to continue my cervical cancer research agenda, which is incredibly valuable to me,” Carmack said. “We are all involved in this type of research to contribute to the betterment of society, particularly in population health and health disparities. For early investigators like me, the pilot grants allow us to experience and learn the nuances of a federally funded research project on a smaller scale, while furthering the science and making a difference.”

By Alison Medley

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