Pilot Projects

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Featured Investigators

Current investigators 

Pradeep Alur, MDPradeep Alur.jpg

Professor, Pediatrics

Association between Weight for Length and Severity of Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia

Premature infants born at less than 30 weeks of gestation are at high risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia. In a large cohort of children who are overweight/obese with and without asthma, a significant correlation was noted between obesity and abnormal pulmonary functions. Through his pilot project, Dr. Alur is exploring whether weight for length measurements are associated with higher respiratory severity scores among premature infants. Additionally, he will also explore whether there is a correlation between total calories and/or protein with weight for length status.

Caroline Compretta, PhDCaroline Compretta.jpg

Assistant Professor, Preventive Medicine

Mapping Informal and Formal Food Outlets to Address Obesity and Food Insecurity

Dr. Compretta's project focuses on exploring previously unexamined informal food outlets in addition to more traditional, formal food outlets to systematically describe food access issues and obesity risk in West Jackson, Mississippi, an urban food desert. Her project seeks to accomplish the following aims: (1) characterize formal and informal food sources in an African American urban population in the Deep South with a high risk for obesity, and (2) identify food source usage patterns and selection factors in the target community. Her project employs a mixed methods convergent parallel study design that includes both GIS techniques, surveys, inventories, and qualitative focus groups and interviews within a community-engaged research framework. The overall objective of the proposed project is to characterize and evaluate food resources in a high-risk neighborhood to shed light on previously unidentified informal food venues and their relationships to food access, choice, and obesity risk. The data produced from this exploratory project will create an evidence-based foundation for developing larger studies and interventional strategies that address the individual and structural barriers that limit healthy food availability and access in the target community. The project will also increase knowledge regarding how best to design future interventional studies to increase healthy food access and behaviors and decrease obesity risk.

Hannah Copeland, MDHannah Copeland.jpg

Assistant Professor, Surgery

Adipose Tissue Effects on Cardiac Surgery Outcomes (ATECO)

Obesity is a well-established risk factor for multiple cardiovascular disease including: coronary artery disease, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes. At least, 35% of Mississippi residents are obese according to the Centers for Disease Control. The goal of Dr. Copeland’s study is to describe and test the predictive power of a more informative definition of obesity using a prospective trial of all consecutive patients aged 18-80 undergoing elective and urgent cardiac surgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Subjects will have obesity described via biometric measurements (waist and hip circumferences), functional status will be assessed, and adipose tissue biomarker profiles. The primary endpoint will be clinical outcomes of cardiac surgery in the immediate post-operative period (within the first 30 days after surgery) and long-term (within in the first year after surgery). The secondary outcomes include: in-hospital mortality, intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay, hospital length of stay, 30-day, 1-year survival and rate of re-admission. Also included will be length of time on respiratory support (prolonged ventilation greater than 24 hours), new onset acute renal failure, superficial wound infection, sternal wound infection, stroke, atrial fibrillation and disposition on discharge (discharged to home, home with home health, transfer to a rehab or nursing facility).

Brad Dufrene, PhDdufrene.jpg

Professor, Psychology
University of Southern Mississippi

Mechanisms of change in parenting programs to prevent childhood obesity 

Dr. Dufrene's project focuses on parental influences of children’s health. He aims to test the effects of modified Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) on health measures of behaviors that tend to cause obesity, determine agents of change that may explain the PCIT’s influence on behaviors that tend to cause obesity, and evaluate the social validity of PCIT using rating scales completed by parents and interviews using qualitative analytic methods.

The overall goal of the project is to obtain a better understanding of why evidence-based parenting programs impact negative health behaviors related to obesity and disentangle the relationships among these potential mechanisms of change.

Meagen Rosenthal, PhDRosenthal

Professor, Pharmacy Administration
University of Mississippi (Oxford campus)   

Patient Perceptions of and Attitudes toward a Weight Management Program Offered by Community Pharmacies

Dr. Rosenthal’s project aims to determine the weight management knowledge, and design, of a weight management program to be delivered in a community pharmacies in Mississippi. Patients’ perspectives will be obtained through five focus group interviews with 50 patients from four communities in northern and central Mississippi. The proposed study will provide a list of weight management program characteristics including kinds of advice and program design components that are currently unavailable in the weight management literature.

Michelle Williams, PhDMichelle Williams

Assistant Professor, Population Health Science

Survivor Heart: Improving Cardiovascular Outcomes in Breast Cancer Survivors

More than 3 million women in the US are breast cancer survivors. African American breast cancer survivors have a disproportionately high burden of CVD mortality. The elevated CVD mortality rate among African American breast cancer survivors is due in part to multiple, modifiable CVD risk factors that are disproportionately high in this group, such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and physical inactivity. A population-specific CVD risk reduction intervention that is delivered via telehealth technology may be an effective way to reduce the CVD risks of African American breast cancer survivors living in rural and medically underserved areas of Mississippi. The overall goal of Dr. Williams' study is to develop a CVD risk reduction telehealth intervention that is tailored for African American breast cancer survivors.

Past investigators

Donald "Trey" Clark, MDDonald Clark.jpg

Assistant Professor, Medicine

Remote Hypertension Management Using Home Blood Pressure Telemonitoring and a Standardized Treatment Protocol

The burden of hypertensive heart disease has substantially shifted to the southeastern United States. The state of Mississippi has the highest cardiovascular mortality rate in the country, with more deaths attributable to hypertension than any other state. Dr. Clark’s funding supported a prospective pilot project evaluating hypertension management using home-based blood pressure telemonitoring and a standardized treatment protocol. This award provided the means to obtain preliminary data demonstrating the feasibility of remote hypertension management using telemedicine in a geographic area where improvement in cardiovascular health is most needed. The objective of this project was to establish a telehealth program for hypertension management at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) and conduct a prospective pilot study among patients with hypertension.

David R. Dolbow, PhD, DPT, RKTDavid Dolbow

Assistant Professor, Kinesiotherapy
University of Southern Mississippi

Electrically Induced Cycling and Nutritional Counseling for Counteracting Obesity after SCI

Dr. Dolbow's research focus is on the use of activity-based restorative therapies to reverse unhealthy body composition changes and the increased cardiometabolic disease risk that take place after spinal cord injury. Specifically, decreasing body fat, increasing skeletal muscle, improving vascular health and circulation, and improving blood lipid and and glucose profiles. Restoration of body composition to healthy proportions of muscle and fat and enhancing peripheral vascular health is important for improving mobility and decreasing cardiometabolic disease risk. 

Dr. Dolbow has developed a resistance-guided high intensity interval training functional electrical stimulation cycling protocol, which has been been shown in preliminary studies, to increase muscle mass in paralyzed legs, while improving cardiometabolic health markers in obese individuals with spinal cord injury. The research aim for Dr. Dolbow’s group was to determine preliminary efficacy of the new electrically induced cycling protocol combined with nutritional counseling in obese adults with chronic spinal cord injury.