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iTHRIV, Community Groups Partner to Improve Health of Virginians

Monday, August 12, 2019  
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The integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia (iTHRIV), a Clinical Translational Science Award hub, has awarded a total of $80,000 in community health research grants to four multi-institutional biomedical research projects.

“Our unique approach to community engagement through regional iTHRIV advisory boards in Northern, Central, and Southwest 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 Kathy Hosig, associate professor and 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.”

Four community organizations will collaborate with researchers from Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia to research the benefits of walking in cities, and ways to improve access to autism spectrum disorder services, low-cost colorectal cancer screening, and postpartum mental health disorder support resources.

“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 Karen Johnston, associate vice president for clinical and translational research and iTHRIV's director. “It is our hope that these pilot grant projects will benefit underserved communities and improve research partnerships.”

Mount Rogers Community Services Board partners with Virginia Tech researcher to improve access to autism spectrum disorder services in rural Southwest Virginia.

Parents and children affected by autism spectrum disorder in rural communities face unique barriers to accessing specialty services, such as diagnostic assessments and case management. The iTHRIV seed grant funding will help a team composed of K.J. Holbrook, a coordinator at the Mount Rogers Community Services Board, and Angela Scarpa, a psychology professor at Virginia Tech, address these challenges.

Science Museum of Virginia partners with Virginia Tech and University of Virginia researchers to promote the benefits of walking in cities.

A 2017 Community Health Assessment in Richmond, Virginia, concluded that the urban community could improve city-wide physical activity by increasing walking. To address this, a group of scientists from across Virginia are examining optimal walking conditions and the benefits that walking can have on mood and cognition, as well as positive environmental outcomes, such as improved air quality and lower carbon dioxide emissions. This project is led by Jeremy Hoffman, chief scientist at the Science Museum of Virginia; Jenny Roe, director of the Center for Design and Health at the University of Virginia; Chris Neale, a researcher at the University of Virginia Frank Batten School of Public Policy; and Julia Gohlke, an associate professor of population health sciences at Virginia Tech.

Community Health Center of the New River Valley and University of Virginia public health scientist partner to lift cancer screening rates in underserved communities.


Rural and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups often have lower colorectal cancer screening rates, resulting in higher rates of mortality. This project, led by Michelle Brauns, chief executive officer of the Community Health Center of the New River Valley, and Jamie Zoellner, an associate professor at the University of Virginia’s Department of Public Health Sciences, seeks to develop sustainable cancer prevention and detection programs in the New River Valley. They will also test a scalable, low-cost colorectal screening intervention.

Postpartum Support Virginia and University of Virginia researcher work to address postpartum mental health complications for women in Charlottesville.

Postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are a common complication of pregnancy and childbirth. When untreated, these disorders can have lasting negative health impacts for the mother and child. The iTHRIV seed grant will help a team led by Adrienne Griffen, founder of Postpartum Support Virginia, and Sharon Veith, a perinatal outreach nurse at the University of Virginia School of Nursing, provide education, screening, and recovery resources to childbearing women in Charlottesville.

Awarded a $23 million Clinical Translational Science Award grant from the National Institutes of Health earlier this year, iTHRIV is a cross-state partnership between Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, Carilion Clinic, and Inova Health System.


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