University of Massachusetts Amherst

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CRF Scholars Move Ahead with Successful Grants

Students in a UMass Lab

Three of CRF’s current and former Family Research Scholars were recently successful in their multimillion dollar federal grant applications. The scholars will embark on investigations which will address pressing national health concerns such as the link between breast cancer risk and household products, how African-American men cope with stress, and how technologies can help patients with chronic health conditions manage their fatigue and sleep.



Laura VandenbergLaura Vandenberg (’15-16) will join an interdisciplinary research consortium funded by a $3.5 million dollar grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to study breast cancer risk and environmental exposure to common chemicals found in cosmetics and household products. Along with researchers from UMass, the team includes scientists at Baystate Medical Center, the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute (PVLSI) and the Rays of Hope Center for Breast Cancer Research in Springfield. The group will focus on investigating possible effects of exposure during pregnancy to a group of environmental chemicals including benzophenone-3, found in sunscreens and cosmetics, and the risk of breast cancer. Learn more

Louis Graham (’16-17) will serve as lead investigator on a new collaboration between researchers from the UMass School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) and the Springfield Public Health Department’s Men of Color Health Awareness (MOCHA) program. The partnership is supported by a $2.3 million grant for community-based participatory research from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. For several years MOCHA has offered African-American men ages 35 to 65 in the Springfield area a 12-week program of social networking broadly focused on supporting health and exploring different aspects of black masculinities. Among other things, it includes members sharing stories of how they cope with life stresses such as housing, employment and relationships. Over the five year grant period, Graham will test and refine variations of this program to develop approaches that might offer other groups a model for successful peer support. Learn more

UManage Center to Build the Science of Symptom Self-Management investigators and staff. Left to right, Jenna Marquard, Rebecca Spencer, Joann Chauvin, Annette Wysocki, Cynthia Jacelon and Peter Reinhart. Missing are Deepak Ganesan and William Kilbride.Karen Kalmakis (’12-13) and Rebecca Spencer (’10-11) will develop pilot research as part of the new UManage Center to Build the Science of Symptom Self-Management. The center is funded through a $1.23 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research. Over the next five years, the center will develop ten technologies to help people with chronic illness manage fatigue and impaired sleep. Among the first projects to be implemented is Kalmakis’s study of cortisol in sweat as a potential stress and fatigue indicator to help patients regulate their behavior and responses. Learn more