Hypertension in African Americans

The School of Nursing congratulates Debra Barksdale who was notified today that her K23 (Mentored Patient-Oriented Career Development Award) has been funded by National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). The title of her grant is, “Hypertension in Black Americans: Environment, Behavior, and Biology. Debra’s mentors for the grant are Joanne Harrell (UNC-CH SON) and Susan Girdler (UNC-CH SOM). If you are interested in learning more about Debra’s grant, see below for the abstract from her proposal – or just ask her. I know she would love to tell you about it.

Hypertension (HTN) is a major health problem for Black Americans: as a group they have the highest rate of HTN in the world. HTN develops at younger ages, is more severe, and leads to more adverse clinical outcomes and higher death rates for Blacks than for Whites. Chronic psychosocial stressors (e.g., daily hassles, racial discrimination and financial strain) are believed to contribute to the development of HTN. The purposes of the proposed mentored patient-oriented research career development award are to provide the necessary training experiences so that the candidate can achieve independence as an investigator conducting biobehavioral research and to begin to address the question of why some Blacks develop HTN while other Blacks do not. The training goals are to 1) expand knowledge of cardiovascular physiology and pathological mechanisms leading to HTN; 2) obtain expertise in the assessment of psychosocial stress and the integration of measures of psychosocial stress with physiological indices of stress; 3) obtain expertise in impedance-derived measurement of total peripheral resistance and to become skilled in the assessment of cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses to acute laboratory-based stressors; 4) become proficient in the design, conduct and analysis of longitudinal studies and associated advanced statistical methods; and 5) disseminate results of research and develop a fundable R01 proposal. The candidate will engage in a 3-year intensive, supervised career development plan that will include: a) formal course work in HTN, stress, and advanced research methods; b) hands-on laboratory experiences with her mentors, consultants, and specialists; c) interdisciplinary experiences such as journal clubs, seminars, and conferences; and d) participation in mentors’ research team meetings. To compliment the training, the candidate will conduct a study to examine factors related to HTN in 128 Black men and women between the ages of 25 and 55. The study will compare Blacks with and without HTN for differences in indicators of allostatic load (sleep blood pressure, sleep total peripheral resistance, cortisol awakening response, and obesity); in chronic psychosocial stressors (daily hassles, racial discrimination, and financial strain); and in the moderating effect of positive and negative emotions, religious coping, and John Henryism active coping on the influence of chronic psychosocial stressors on indicators of allostatic load. A team of experienced researchers will serve as mentors and consultants in the areas of a) HTN and cardiovascular disease, b) physiological and psychological stress, c) biomedical assessment, and d) design and analysis of longitudinal research.

Faculty researcher Diane Berry Interviewed by Orlando Sentinel

Weight loss, and type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease prevention

Diane Berry, PhD, CANP, assistant professor at UNC Chapel Hill School of Nursing, was quoted in an Orlando Sentinel article on motivation to lose weight. Berry focuses her research on both behavior and physiology, working with Black, Latino, and White children and parents to manage their weight and prevent type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Here is an excerpt from the article that quotes Berry:

“‘Many people are concerned about their weight, but people who successfully lose weight often experience a personal intersection, ‘ says Diane Berry. Often, she says, the one defining moment, their tipping point, is the accumulation of many experiences, from humiliations, embarrassments or frightening medical news. In a study of 20 women who had lost 10 percent of their body weight and kept it off for a year, Berry found that most of the women experienced a defining moment that led them to lose weight. For some, it was someone’s critical comment about their appearance; for others it was stepping on a scale and being shocked at their weight or buying a larger dress size.”

You can read the full article at http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/lifestyle/orl-tippingpoint08feb26,0,7415239.story

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