iTHRIV, Community Groups Partner to Improve Health of Virginians

Aerial view of the UVA Health Center Buildings

iTHRIV, Community Groups Partner to Improve Health of Virginians (Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications)

Four biomedical research projects to improve the health of Virginians will be funded by the integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia, or iTHRIV, a Clinical Translational Science Award Hub.

“iTHRIV is excited to partner with the National Institutes of Health in supporting our community nonprofit and governmental organizations, who are collaborating with academic researchers to address important health needs across Virginia,” said iTHRIV Director Karen Johnston, the University of Virginia’s associate vice president for clinical and translational research. “It is our hope that these pilot grant projects will benefit underserved communities and improve research partnerships.”

The projects address autism spectrum disorder, improved access to colorectal cancer screening, postpartum depression, and the benefits of walking in cities. Community organizations will be involved in the efforts, working with teams of physicians and researchers from UVA and Virginia Tech.

“Our unique approach to community engagement through regional iTHRIV advisory boards in Northern, Central and Southwest/Southside Virginia ensures that we foster collaborative research among community, clinical and academic organizations and institutions to serve diverse communities across the majority of the commonwealth,” said associate professor Kathy Hosig, director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Public Health Practice and Research. “The opportunity to involve our community partners in research that is a priority for them is extremely rewarding.”

The four teams will be awarded a total of $80,000 in funding. 

Improving Access to Care for Autism Spectrum Disorder in Rural Southwest Virginia

Parents and their children affected by autism spectrum disorder in rural communities often have difficulty accessing care. The iTHRIV seed grant funding will address barriers to accessing specialty services in Southwest Virginia, including diagnostic assessments and case management.

A partnership between K.J. Holbrook from the Mount Rogers Community Services Board and Angela Scarpa, a professor of psychology at Virginia Tech, will provide information on the best ways to provide education and support for underserved communities about autism spectrum disorder care.

The Impact of Urban Walking on Public Health

A 2017 Community Health Assessment undertaken in Richmond found a need to improve city-wide physical activity by increasing walking. It is important to understand the optimal conditions for these walks, taking into account the benefits of some spaces over others on personal outcomes such as mood and cognition and environmental outcomes such as air quality and temperature.

Led by Jeremy Hoffman from the Science Museum of Virginia; Jenny Roe, director of UVA’s Center for Design and Health; Chris Neale from UVA’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy; and Julia Gohlke, an associate professor of population health sciences at Virginia Tech, this research will help address the issue of understanding the benefits of walking in cities.

Improving Effectiveness of Colorectal Cancer Screening Through a Community Health Center Partnership

Rural and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups have lower colorectal cancer screening rates and higher mortality rates. Community health centers are ideal organizations to improve colorectal cancer screening for these groups. This research, led by Michelle Brauns from the Community Health Center of the New River Valley and Jamie Zoellner from UVA’s Department of Public Health Sciences, seeks to develop sustainable cancer prevention and detection programs in the New River Valley and test a scalable, low-cost colorectal cancer screening intervention.

Addressing Postpartum Depression and Other Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Childbearing Women in Charlottesville

Postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are the most common complications of pregnancy and childbirth, affecting one in five mothers. At least 700 women in the greater Charlottesville area will experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders each year, affecting an additional 2,400 family members. Untreated perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can have long-term impact on the mother, baby and society.

The project team, led by Adrienne Griffen from Postpartum Support Virginia and Sharon Veith from UVA’s School of Nursing, seeks to educate local stakeholders about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, establish additional resources for recovery and ensure that all childbearing women are educated about, screened for and receive treatment for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders from conception through one year after giving birth.

About iTHRIV

iTHRIV is a cross-state translational research institute supported by a five-year, $23 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. Partnering institutions include Virginia Tech, Carilion Clinic, the University of Virginia and Inova Health System. The mission of the iTHRIV partnership and the national Clinical Translational Science Award programs is to promote interdisciplinary research that translates basic research findings into clinical applications, clinical research into community practice, and improves the process of research. A major goal of iTHRIV is to implement research that will benefit underserved populations.

This content was supported in part by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award No. UL1TR003015.

Media Contact

Josh Barney

UVA Health