MIRECC / CoE
Newsletter | Summer 2022 | South Central MIRECC
Highlights from Our Anchor Sites
Our affiliates in Houston, Little Rock, New Orleans, and VISN 17 work hard to promote mental health education, research, and treatment locally and nationally. Here are some highlights of their accomplishments over the past three months.
Ms. Namrata Nanavaty and Dr. Lilian Dindo Win ACBS Poster Award
Congratulations to Ms. Namrata Nanavaty, a psychology intern at the Houston VA Medical Center, and her mentor, Dr. Lilian Dindo, for winning the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science Junior Investigator Poster Award. This is a huge accomplishment for Ms. Nanavaty and is a testament to the impact of Dr. Dindo’s Office of Rural Health-funded project “One-day Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Workshop for Veterans and Their Romantic Partners.”
Dr. Mark Kunik Received New Grant and Publication
Dr. Kunik is a co-investigator on a new Rice University grant funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, “Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Smartphone-Based Cognitive Emotion Regulation Training for Unpaid Primary Caregivers of Persons with Alzheimer's Disease” (PI: Bryan T. Denny). This smartphone-based intervention will examine how thinking about an emotional stimulus in a more adaptive way can predict changes in health-related behavior via changes in negative affect and psychophysiological health-related biomarkers. This work may hold clinical significance in the development of new interventions to improve emotional health and well-being in caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s Disease or Alzheimer's Disease-Related Dementias.
Dr. Henry Heisey Publishes First Author Article in Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging
Dr. Heisey, a 2021 SC MIRECC Building Education Scholarship in psychiatry Training (BEST) Fellow and Baylor College of Medicine psychiatry resident, has a new first author article on predictors of cognitive performance among aging adults with obesity. The article concludes that cognition among community-dwelling older adults with obese body mass index may worsen with greater truncal fat mass. Also, frailty appears to be an important predictor of cognitive performance in this population. Dr. Mark Kunik serves as Dr. Heisey’s mentor and is a co-author on the article.
Affiliates Completed IQuESt Fellowship
Congratulations to Drs. Alexandra Caloudas, Darius Dawson, and Alexander Uzdavines for graduating from the 2022 fellowship class of the HSR&D Center for Innovation in Quality, Effectiveness & Safety (IQuESt)!
Dr. Sara Landes Presented at #ARM22
Dr. Landes presented on the implementation of her Caring Contacts project at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting. Caring Contacts is a suicide prevention approach that involves sending patients who are suicidal brief, non-demanding expressions of care and concern at specified intervals over a year or more.
Dr. Sonia Singh Became an IRI Fellow
Congratulations to Dr. Singh for being accepted as an Implementation Research Institute (IRI) Fellow! This two-year fellowship is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and VA. This interdisciplinary training program advances the field of implementation science in mental health through experiential learning, didactic training, faculty mentoring, and support for grant writing for fellows.
Dr. Claire Houtsma Awarded an Early Career Award by the LPA
Congratulations to Dr. Houstma for receiving an Early Career Award from the Louisiana Psychological Association! This award is given to an individual who is within 10 years of completing their doctorate in psychology and who has distinguished themselves by contributing to psychology research, practice, or both during the initial years of their career. Dr. Houtsma serves as a clinical investigator and suicide prevention coordinator with the New Orleans VA. She also holds academic appointments with the Schools of Medicine at Tulane and LSU.
The impact that Dr. Houtsma will make on the field of psychological science is best reflected in her timely and innovative program of research. At a time when suicide remains the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, her program of research aims to identify and examine risk factors that underlie firearm suicide. In addition, her body of work focuses on the development and dissemination of novel methods of prevention and intervention. To date, Dr. Houtsma has published 28 peer-reviewed articles and presented her work at various local and national conferences. Further, she serves as a co-investigator or principal investigator on six federally funded projects.
Dr. Gala True Presents on Lethal Means Safety
Dr. True has been invited to attend the Lethal Means Safety (LMS) Roundtable hosted by the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (OMHSP) and National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). She is also an invited speaker at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy event “Preventing Firearm Injury in the Greater Houston Area through Purpose and Policy.”
As part of her team’s suicide prevention efforts, their coalition of researchers and Veterans helped pass legislation in Louisiana HB260 (la.gov) to provide civil liability protection for firearm retailers who temporarily store a firearm for someone. It is expected to be signed into law later this month and will be the first of its kind in the U.S.
Additionally, Drs. True and Claire Houtsma and are co-organizing an HSR&D-funded field-based meeting (with the Suicide Prevention Research Impact NeTwork [SPRINT]) to be held in New Orleans. The title of the meeting is "Promoting Development of High Impact VA Research on Lethal Means Safety: Collaborating with Community Partners.”
Last updated: July 28, 2022
In this Issue
— Meet the Researcher: Dr. Joseph Boffa
— New Affiliate Profile: Dr. Kathryn E. Kanzler
— DEI Corner: Resources and Grants
— DEI Calendar of Events
— Anchor Site Highlights
— New Clinical Eduction Resource
— Publication Highlights
— Pilot Grant Opportunity
— MIDAS Consultation Service
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