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Three nursing faculty named to second cohort of Dimitriadis Fellows

Nursing faculty members.

The Gregory J. Dimitriadis Research Mentoring Fellows. From left to right: Ellen Volpe, Kafuli Agbemenu, Darryl Somayaji, and Adrian Juarez, assistant professors in the School of Nursing; Lucia A. Leone, assistant professor in the School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Through fellowship, researchers will explore how stress affects health of transgender community, immigrant mothers and people with PTSD

Release Date: July 12, 2016

“The type of training and support provided through the mentorship make grant funding possible, which makes advancing the science possible.”
Ellen Volpe, assistant professor in the School of Nursing

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Three faculty members in the University at Buffalo School of Nursing have been named to the second cohort of the Gregory J. Dimitriadis Research Mentoring Fellows.

The one-year fellowship, which honors the legacy of Gregory Dimitriadis, a professor of educational leadership and policy in the UB Graduate School of Education who died in 2015, provides mentorship support to UB faculty pursuing community-based research that confronts issues of social justice, equity and public policy.

The awards are supported by the Civic Engagement Research Fellowship Program under the Civic Engagement and Public Policy (CEPP) research initiative.

“Greg Dimitriadis understood the value of advancing community-based research, listening to people embedded in the topic you’re interested in researching, and partnering with them to help address issues of justice, equity and public policy,” says Laura Mangan, CEPP coordinator.

“Naming the research mentoring fellowship after him has been a small way to pay tribute to his life and work. We think he would be pleased to have such interesting, collaborative research being conducted by this School of Nursing research team, supported by a renowned mentor who will share her expertise with the whole community in September.”

The recipients include Ellen Volpe, PhD, Kafuli Agbemenu, PhD, and Adrian Juarez, PhD, assistant professors in the School of Nursing, and all members of the school’s Promoting Health and Reducing Risk in Psychiatric Mental Health and Addictions Scholarship Team.

The researchers are collaborating on the joint project, “Mentorship in Biomarkers for Stress: Applications in Vulnerable Populations.” Each will complete a separate study that aims to understand how stress affects at-risk populations.

The faculty member will receive training and mentorship on how to measure stress using biomarkers such as cortisol, a hormone released during stress that is found in sweat, saliva, hair and urine.

Agbemenu, whose research focuses on reproductive health in African immigrant and refugee populations, will study if the stress of moving to a refugee camp or to a new country can impact pregnancy and lead to premature births. The results will help identify the greatest causes of stress and how it affects the body, and may lead to the creation of interventions. She will partner with the Somali Bantu Community Organization to complete the research.

Juarez, who also received the first CEPP Community-Based Health Disparities Research Fellowship, studies health in the transgender community and HIV disparities. His research will investigate the relationship between high-risk behavior and substance abuse as a coping mechanism for stress, and inform interventions aimed at lowering HIV risk. The research is done in collaboration with the Latino Commission on AIDS, Community Access Services of WNY and Evergreen Health Services.

Volpe, who specializes in health disparities, adolescent mental health and risk behaviors, will examine the effect of psychotherapy on stress in populations experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. Her findings could help improve treatment outcomes. The study is done in partnership with The Center for Youth.

The researchers will complete the project under the mentorship of Marilyn Sommers, PhD, Lillian S. Brunner Professor of Medical-Surgical Nursing and director of the Center for Global Women’s Health in the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

The project will culminate in three literature review manuscripts and a grant proposal in the fall for funding to expand research.

“The type of training and support provided through the mentorship make grant funding possible, which makes advancing the science possible,” says Volpe.

The Dimitriadis Fellowship is one of several fellowships for community-based research that were offered by CEPP. Others are the Civic Engagement Research Fellowship, the Civic Engagement Research Fellowship for Grant Development, the Civic Engagement Research Dissemination Fellowship and the Community Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship.

The fellows in the first cohort of Dimitriadis Research Mentoring Fellows were Darryl Somayaji, assistant professor in the School of Nursing and adjunct assistant professor of cancer prevention and population science at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and Lucia A. Leone, assistant professor of community health and health behavior in the School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Dimitriadis was a founding member of the CEPP faculty advisory committee, an accomplished scholar and a caring mentor who was dedicated to research, scholarship and social activism.

For more information about the fellowship, contact Mangan at lmangan@buffalo.edu or 645-5376.

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