CRF, HDI Award Pilot Grants to Researcher/Community Partner Teams

Pilot award participants
Clockwise from top left: Mary Paterno, Elizabeth Peacock-Chambers, Krystal Pollitt, Sarita Hudson.

The Center for Research on Families (CRF) and the Healthy Development Initiative (HDI) have awarded two $15,000 pilot grants as part of a new Community Partnership Research Grant Initiative.

The proposed initiative represents a step in newly emerging commitment to creating and nurturing ongoing collaborations between UMass Amherst researchers and community partners in the Springfield area, such as those established through Project ACCCES and the Western Massachusetts Health Equity Network.

The funded projects will address pressing concerns identified by Springfield families, agencies and community leaders with the goal of increasing the health and well-being of Springfield residents.

Mary Paterno, assistant professor of nursing at UMass Amherst, along with Elizabeth Peacock-Chambers, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at UMass Medical School’s Baystate Campus, will move forward with the project “Maternal Perceptions of Opiate Addiction and Child Development Services from Pregnancy Through the First Year Postpartum.”

Paterno and Peacock-Chambers aim to understand the perceptions of women in recovery from opiate addiction in relation to the continuity and gaps in addiction services from pregnancy to one year postpartum. Using this data, they propose to develop an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to providing addiction, maternal health and child development services to support parenting women and their children who are affected by opiate addiction.

Krystal Pollitt, assistant professor of environmental health sciences, will join Sarita Hudson, director of programs and development for Springfield’s Partners for a Healthier Community, to develop their grant proposal “The Fresh Air Project: Using the Exposome to Personalize Asthma Management.” Springfield suffers from rates of asthma double statewide estimates, with a disproportionate burden impacting children and people of color.

Pollitt and Hudson seek to understand the prevalent environmental exposures for children and develop novel personalized control strategies that reduce exposure to these triggers of asthma. The project will partner with the Springfield Healthy Homes Asthma Pilot Program, which will serve up to 20 families with four home visits for asthma management education and support, including distribution of supplies to address asthma. The long-term goal of the Fresh Air Project is to decrease hospital usage for asthma in Springfield.

CRF is offering this seed funding with the hope that these new projects foster sustainable partnerships between community agencies and researchers who share the goal of improving health for residents of Springfield. The projects were chosen because of their potential to lead to larger investigations.

The results of each proposal will be presented at the annual CRF Research Forum and Awards Dinner in March 2019.