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Currently Funded Research Projects

Action for health in Diabetes Extension Study Research Project (USPHS U01DK057078) PI: Karen Johnson   
Look AHEAD is a multicenter, randomized clinical trial to examine the effects of a lifestyle intervention designed to achieve and maintain weight loss over the long term through decreased caloric intake and exercise and to determine the long term effects of weight loss on physical functioning, aging, and mortality.
Adapting and testing an Alzheimer’s family caregiver intervention in Vietnam.  (1R21AG054262-01). PI: WL Hinton and Huong Nguyen.  Co-I: Jennifer Martindale-Adams, Linda Nichols
The goal of this NIA-funded pilot is to adapt and test the REACH Community Program with Alzheimer’s family caregivers in Vietnam.
ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly ASPREE (Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation  Subcont USHPS U01 AG029824) PI: Catherine Womack
The study is examining whether the potential benefits of low dose aspirin (particularly the prevention of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers and dementia) outweigh the risks (particularly severe gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke) in this age group. Participants were eligible for the trial if they did not have a current clinical indication for (i.e. overt cardiovascular disease) or contraindication to (i.e. allergy or increased risk of bleeding) aspirin, did not have dementia, disability, low hemoglobin levels, or a condition that was likely to be fatal within five years of enrollment and were capable of providing informed consent.
Behavioral Weight Management for Pregnant and Postpartum Women in the Military (USHPS R01-DK104872) PI: Rebecca Krukowski
This NIH-funded randomized controlled trial will determine whether a gestational weight gain intervention, a postpartum weight loss intervention, or a combination of the two interventions is most beneficial in improving postpartum weight loss, maternal/child health, and military readiness in a sample of Tricare beneficiaries. For additional information on the study, please see:
Cancer Caregiver-driven Text Messaging. PI: Michelle Martin and Jennifer Martindale-Adams
The goal of this program is to employ an automated caregiver-driven text messaging program as an m-health intervention that practitioners could integrate into real-world clinical settings. 
Community Alliance for the Homeless Agreement (Community Alliance Subcontract - DHHS 90CA1792) PI: Connor / Simmone Nouer
The goal of this contract is to conduct an evaluation of the local Memphis Strong Families Initiative (MSFI). The process evaluation for the MSFI includes a combination of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods for infrastructure development and effectiveness, along with implementation of the project. The outcome evaluation utilizes data pulled from the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), which MSFI uses to track and collect data on all program outcome measures. TFACTS reports for DCS administrative data are also being utilized. Evaluation results are used to determine how the MSFI is functioning in terms of: collaboration, engagement with participants, participants’ response to the program, data quality, effectiveness of program services, and changes in child welfare practices.
Dementia Caregiver Intervention for Non-Responders. (From New York Harbor VA Medical Center.) PI: Cory Chen, Mentors: Jennifer Martindale-Adams, Linda Nichols
The VA Health Services Research and Development Career Development Award will identify predictors of non-response to the REACH VA intervention for Caregivers of individuals with dementia.  It will then develop treatment designed for family caregivers who continue to experience clinically significant depression and caregiver burden following intervention.
Dissemination of the Look AHEAD Weight Management Treatment in the Military (USHPS R01-DK-097158) PI: Rebecca Krukowski
This NIH-funded randomized controlled trial examined the efficacy of translating and tailoring the Look Ahead weight loss intervention for overweight/obese active duty Airmen. The 1-year intervention was delivered over the phone. For additional information on the study, please see:
DNA methylation and gene expression study of aging and lifespan differences (USHPS R21-AG055841) PI: Khyobeni Mozhui
This grant evaluates changes in DNA methylation and gene expression in the context of aging and lifespan differences. The work will use a cohort of recombinant inbred mouse strains that serve as a genetic reference panel and will evaluate conserved features of the aging epigenome.
Efficacy of Two Novel Behavioral Post Cessation Weight Gain Interventions (USHPS R01-DK0107747) PI: Rebecca Krukowski
The purpose of this NIH-funded project is to determine whether a weight stability intervention (based on the evidence-based Small Changes intervention) or a weight loss intervention (based on the evidence-based Look AHEAD intensive lifestyle intervention) followed by a smoking cessation intervention are more efficacious for reducing postcessation weight gain at 12 month follow-up, compared to a self-guided condition prior to cessation. For additional information on the study, please see: or call 901-448-2000.
Elder Abuse Professional Education For Current and Future Healthcare Professionals (H W Durham Fdn Grant) PI: Simonne Nouer
The second-year funding has made the Elder Abuse Prevention Professional Development training (created in year 1 funding), freely available to UTHSC students and community healthcare professionals. The training informs participants regarding recognizing and reporting incidents of elder abuse, exploitation, and neglect in Shelby County, Tennessee. UTHSC is targeting future healthcare providers, currently attending UTHSC, as well as the community healthcare providers working in Shelby County, Tennessee. Elder Abuse Professional Education training will be provided to a cohort of future healthcare professionals in the Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, and Health Professions (physician assistants), as well as a set of community physicians and clinicians, by the end of Year 3 funding.
Implementation of Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer's Caregivers Health in Tribal Communities (REACH into Indian Country) (Rx Foundation Grant) PI: Jennifer Martindale-Adams
This project will implement a proven dementia caregiving behavioral intervention into Indian Country. The intervention, Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer's Caregivers Health in Tribal Communities (REACH into Indian Country), provides a strategy and framework for health and social support professionals from Indian Health Services and Tribal Public Health Nursing programs and ACL/AoA’s Native American Caregiver Support programs to help family caregivers with behavioral problems and their own stress and coping. Progress, outcomes, and impact will focus on the fit and utility of the intervention in Tribal communities and on the optimal design and requirements for adaptation and spread.
Internet Assisted Obesity Treatment Enhanced by Financial Incentives (Univ of South Carolina Subcontract USPHS R01-DK-056746) PIs: Harvey and West, UT PI: Rebecca Krukowski
This randomized controlled trial will determine whether incorporating financial incentives increases the amount and duration of weight losses achieved by Internet-delivered behavioral treatment. A secondary, exploratory aim is to quantify the incremental cost-effectiveness of each intervention strategy compared to established cost-efficacy thresholds.
Methods for genetic association testing (Project leader: CY Chiu, S Sen; contributors: H Kim; funding: NIGMS)
Testing for genotype-phenotype associations in large-scale genetic studies is a key step toward discovering biological mechanisms underlying disease.  Drs. Chiu and Sen are taking complementary statistical approaches in human and non-human populations respectively.  Dr. Chiu is investigating the use of functional data analysis (FDA) techniques to model the effects of multiple genetic variants in gene level association testing.  This allows information compression from large number of genetic variants, fully utilizing linkage disequilibrium (LD) and genetic physical position information.  Dr. Sen and his group are developing algorithms to extend linear mixed models (LMMs) to multivariate phenotype-genotype association testing. Their approach enables genetic researchers to consider both phenotypic and genotypic correlations when testing for genetic association. Linear mixed model code:
Model for Holistic Young Child Wellness (LeBonheur Community Health and Well-Being) PI: Connor / Simonne Nouer
This contact focuses on conducting an evaluation of the Project LAUNCH local demonstration site in Memphis TN, led by LeBonheur. The local level evaluation follows a participatory mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) approach. The goals of the evaluation are to provide data for continuous improvement and quality control within Project LAUNCH activities, with an overarching goal of developing a replicable model that can be used to establish statewide systems of strength-based, family-centered, culturally and linguistically competent services for promoting holistic young child wellness. Monthly, as well as annual, evaluative reports focus on determining project effectiveness, documenting process, and analyzing outcomes, aiming to provide as much formative feedback as possible in order to guide and inform project planning and implementation.
PACE: Planning a Change Easily (Strategies to Promote Cessation in Smokers Who Are Not Ready To Quit) (University of VA Subcontract USPHS R01-CA-193245) PI: Klesges; UT PI: Karen Derefinko
This purpose of this study is to (1) To test a tobacco Quit Line for Smokers not ready to quit (SNRTQ); (2) To randomize 2100 SNRTQs; (3) To evaluate the efficacy of the intervention. The primary endpoint will be point prevalence at the 6-month post-intervention follow-up (12 months after randomization); and; (4) To determine the cost effectiveness (cost per quit smoker) of each of the interventions
Statistical analysis of activity data (Faculty: Z Bursac, M Kocak, R Krukowski, S Sen, F Thomas; contributor: G Farage; funding: NIDDK)
Accelerometer-based wearable devices are widely used for assessing physical activity. Recorded accelerometer data provide information about the intensity, frequency and duration of physical activity. We are using physical activity data from wearable tracker devices of women in the military during pregnancy and the postpartum phase. Our research is aimed at developing methodology to characterize activity patterns and determine correlations between physical activity and weight gain or weight loss during and after pregnancy.  More generally, we will develop a framework for associating activity patterns with health outcomes, accompanied by a software implementation.
Statistical computing for large omic datasets (Project leader: Saunak Sen; contributors: X Hu, H Kim, G Farage; funding: NIGMS, NIDA)
Statistical analysis of large omic datasets (such as those obtained from microarrays, mRNA sequencing, and mass spectrometry to study the transcriptome, proteome, microbiome, metabolome, and other "omes") present computational challenges.  A major issue is that algorithm prototyping is done in a high-level language such as R or Python, but some elements have to be coded in a low-level language such as C/C++ for speed.  Our approach is to use the Julia programming language for prototype development focusing on estimation of multivariate linear mixed models for large-scale and high-dimensional data. In our initial work Julia has speed comparable to C++.  We are also using Julia's interface to GPU (graphical processing unit) computing to speed computations as many computations with high-dimensional datasets may be sped up exploiting parallelisms suitable for GPUs. The web interface to these computational modules will be put on Gene Network [].
Testing the Effects of Contingency Management and Behavioral Economics on Buprenorphine-Naloxone Treatment Adherence Using a Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trial (SMART) Design (1R61AT010604-01 ) PI: Karen Derefinko
SMART is a project directed at improving buprenorphine-naloxone treatment adherence for individuals with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). The project funded under the R61/R33 mechanism includes key informant interviews, a pilot trial, and a larger clinical trial comparing Contingency Management (CM) and Brief Motivational Intervention plus Substance Free Activities Session plus Mindfulness-Based Adherence Promotion for treatment adherence. A supplement award has also been funded to investigate intersecting stigma between African American race and treatment-seeking for OUD.
The Effect of a Microprocessor Prosthetic Foot on Function and Quality of Life in Transtibial Amputees Who are Limited Community Ambulators (VALOR) (Army Grant W81XWH15-1-0470) PI: Phyllis Richey
This project will evaluate the efficacy of a using a microprocessor prosthetic foot on functional performance, decreasing the risk of falls and improving quality of life in transtibial amputees.  The project will utilize a patient-centered approach for veterans who function at a limited ambulatory level.  
The effect of a powered ankle foot orthosis (PAFO) on function, safety & quality of life in military service members and veterans who wear a prescribed orthosis  (Army Grant W81XWH17-1-0451) PI: Phyllis Richey
This project will evaluate the efficacy of a using a powered ankle foot orthosis (PAFO), that assists with toe clearance and provides push-off power when taking a step, on functional performance, decreasing the risk of falls and improving quality of life, in military service members and veterans who walk with a prescribed AFO.
Tools for enhancing statistical collaborations (Project leader: Fridtjof Thomas)
This project develops tools that allow for better statistical analyses by shifting labor (time) from the data reading and processing phase to the phase of statistical modeling and conclusions.  The developed tools also lead to better science by facilitating reproducibility of the statistical results, because the source code for the documents contains all computational steps in the same sequence as actually executed in the analysis.  The project harnesses recent developments that allow creation of dynamic documents that weave text and statistical computations.  Project software is available at
Vitamin D and Type 2 Diabetes (Tufts Medical Ctr Subcont USHPS U01DK98245  PI: Pittas; UT PI: Karen Johnson
The overall objective of the study is to test whether optimizing vitamin D status with vitamin D3 supplementation is associated with reduction in the rate of progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes.
May 26, 2022