Institute awards its 2022 ISL Planning Grants to Brad Schmidt, Geraldine Martorella, Zhe He

June 1, 2022

Winners of the ISL Planning Grants for 2022, from left: Brad Schmidt, Ph.D., Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Psychology, Geraldine Martorella, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the College of Nursing, and Zhe He, Ph.D., Associate Professor & Program Chair of MSIT in the School of Information.

The Institute for Successful Longevity has awarded its 2022 ISL Planning Grants to Brad Schmidt, Ph.D., Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Psychology, Geraldine Martorella, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the College of Nursing, and Zhe He, Ph.D., Associate Professor & Program Chair of MSIT in the School of Information.

Each researcher receives $25,000 to support their winning project.

The planning grants, offered to Faculty Affiliates of the Institute for Successful Longevity, are awarded through a competitive application process and review and are designed to promote collaboration among FSU research faculty. In addition, the program is seen as a first step toward collecting pilot data leading to federal funding.

The 2022 ISL Planning Grants winning proposals are:

Dr. Brad Schmidt, Department of Psychology — Anxiety psychopathology is highly prevalent in people living with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) and their care partners. Moreover, elevated anxiety is a marker for and potentially contributes to earlier onset of ADRD symptoms. Despite this, there are no well-established interventions for anxiety in individuals with ADRD/MCI and their care partners. Prior treatments for anxiety in ADRD/MCI are lengthy, burdensome, excessively rely on intact cognitive abilities, and result in high dropout rates. Consistent with NIA research priorities focused on translational research in ADRD, our overarching goal is to conduct a definitive RCT that will be the first to test a brief, CBT-based intervention, called cognitive anxiety sensitivity treatment (CAST) in people living with MCI/mild ADRDs and their care partners. We believe the interoceptive exposure component of CAST will be particularly relevant to MCI/mild ADRD where learning may be compromised due to cognitive decline. This ISL proposal will provide preliminary/pilot data in support of such an RO1 submission. There are two specific aims: (1) to evaluate the acceptability/feasibility of our CAST protocol plus a two-week Internet-assisted skills training when delivered to anxious, older adults with MCI; (2) to evaluate preliminary efficacy data in support of the protocol in reducing the targeted mechanism of action (AS) and relevant outcome symptoms (anxiety).

Dr. Geraldine Martorella, College of Nursing — This proposal will investigate the combined effects of pain management delivered via transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and mindfulness-based interventions (MBI) for older adults following total knee replacement (TKR). Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability in the United States making TKR one of the three most common inpatient surgeries performed. While acute pain in the surgical context is expected, greater pain predicts worse outcomes for TKR patients, including chronic post-surgical pain (CPSP) which affects functioning and quality of life. Opioid analgesics have traditionally been used after surgery.

Beside their concerning iatrogenic effect in older adults, a multimodal approach to pain relief is warranted to address the biopsychosocial interactions determining pain trajectory. Moreover, with preoperative pain being the most important risk factor for CPSP after TKR, preemptive analgesia needs to be explored. MBI show some promise in the preoperative period potentially improving brain function in relation to pain. tDCS has been shown to impact pain-related brain activity as well but has not been tested in the preoperative period. Therefore, the goal of this project is to assess the preliminary feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of self-administered preoperative tDCS+MBI in older adults undergoing TKR. The central hypothesis is that combined preoperative tDCS+MBI will decrease postoperative analgesic consumption, postoperative clinical pain, as well as preoperative pain-related cortical response. This innovative approach building on current evidence regarding CPSP risks factors after TKR is significant. Indeed, if successful, a non-invasive, cost-effective, and sustainable modality could promote pain self-management and equitable access to pain relief.

Dr. Zhe He, School of Information — There is increasing interest in promoting the use of information and communication technology to engage patients in their own healthcare. Patient portals, for example, can provide patients with secure access to lab test results, doctors’ notes, and medication lists, as well as facilitate communication with healthcare providers. Use of patient-facing tools like portals have been found to improve the overall quality of preventive or follow-up care, improve medication adherence and compliance with treatments, as well as reduce caregiver burden.

Patients with the highest healthcare needs, such as older adults with multiple chronic conditions, stand to benefit the most from the adoption of patient portals. However, multiple factors have been found to hinder older adults’ ability to fully optimize their use of these tools and their ability to retrieve and understand lab test results, one of the most used features of patient portals.

We will develop an Al-assisted application called PRECIOUS (Personalized Recommendation of Credible Information Sources) to help older adult patients interpret their lab results by providing them with tailored recommendations and health information sources. The overall goal of this proposal is to generate essential pilot data to develop PRECIOUS. To understand patient challenges and needs, we will conduct mixed-method formative research.  We will also build a knowledgebase for the backend expert system and conduct a participatory design workshop for the frontend interface of PRECIOUS. A long-term goal is to develop a patient-facing app to enhance patient portals and apply these functionalities to handle other types of medical information.