Kinesiology professors awarded funding through Auburn University’s Intramural Grants Program

May 19, 2020

Three School of Kinesiology faculty members will be conducting research projects using funding from Auburn University’s Intramural Grants Program. Assistant Professor Austin Robinson, Professor JoEllen Sefton and Associate Professor Danielle Wadsworth are conducting research projects that received grants through the program.

Robinson said he feels “honored and fortunate” after winning two Intramural Grants this year. One of them, “Neighborhood Disadvantage across the Lifespan and Sleep Disparities Contribute to Racial Disparities in Cardiometabolic Health and Blood Pressure in Young Adults,” will be conducted with Thomas Fuller-Rowell, an associate professor in the College of Human Sciences. They will perform experiments on healthy young black and white college students to determine if societal factors and the lifestyle differences contribute to racial differences in blood vessel function.

“This study is very important to me because we can help find reasons that contribute to racial disparities in cardiovascular health which is a huge problem in this country and this study will help Dr. Fuller-Rowell and me establish a record of collaboration for future large externally funded grants,” he said.

The other grant Robinson received is specifically for early career investigators and was given for his proposal, “Translational Investigation on the Influence of High Dietary Salt on Kidney and Blood Vessel Health.”

“This award will be hugely important for my new laboratory,” he said. “It will allow us to do experiments on samples that I have stored from my post-doctoral studies. Specifically, we are interested in looking at how high dietary salt affects kidney injury markers that can be measured in blood and urine. This study may help us determine if high dietary salt is contributing to kidney dysfunction that may develop down the road.”

Both of the grants are broadly related to research Robinson is conducting with a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Sefton was awarded funding for “Tinnitus Severity, Reaction, and Intervention in Military Personnel: Effects of Blast versus Non-blast injuries,” a collaborative project that includes Auburn’s Warrior Research Center, School of Nursing and audiology program in the College of Liberal Arts. There is no cure for tinnitus as a condition—patients must learn management techniques for symptom relief. This study will explore tinnitus symptom relief and use Progressive Audiologic Tinnitus Management (a clinical method of tinnitus management involving self-management strategies and individualized management) techniques on two main populations with blast and non-blast related problematic tinnitus: 1) current active duty, Reserve and National Guard military members; and 2) Veteran service members.

“The Warrior Research Center has extensive contacts in and understands how to work with the study population,” Sefton said. “The primary role of the WRC will be to spread the word about this study opportunity to individuals who may be interested and help to explain the study and recruit participants. We will be the point of contact – the go-between – with the participants and the research team.”

Wadsworth’s project, “Health Status and Health Behavior Congruity between Partners in Couples with Type 2 Diabetes: An interdependence and socioecological approach,” is led by the College of Human Sciences and also includes the School of Nursing.

This study will examine behaviors of romantic partners where one person is living with type 2 diabetes and look for sustainable ways to manage health behavior. Because of the strain of caring for and helping manage the partner’s diabetes, the non-diabetic partner is at increased risk for developing their own health issues that can negatively influence the patient’s diabetes management and increase healthcare utilization for both members of the couple. The goal of this project is to 1) model the health status and health behavior congruity between partners across time, 2) examine key ecological-level factors that moderate the influence of partner involvement and patient outcomes, and 3) predict the non-diabetic partner’s health and disease risk.

“This innovative study will allow us to not only determine how behaviors change over time but how relationships affect health outcomes and behaviors in diabetics and their partners,” Wadsworth said. “Unlike many other studies, we consider various types of ecological and relationship factors within many levels of human behavior, thereby identifying a wider network to target mechanisms of change.”

Miranda Nobles