Registration Now Open for Participatory Action Research Forum!

February 10, 2016

Registration is now open for Participatory Action Research: Researchers and Community Partners Working Together for Real-World Success!

March 30, 2016  |  12:00pm-4:30pm  |  Student Union Ballroom, UConn Storrs

Join us for roundtable discussions, pilot grant presentations, and a community-based participatory research panel. Download the flyer (PDF), view the agenda, or register online for this event.

This event is jointly sponsored by InCHIP, the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW), and the Center for Environmental Health and Health Promotion (CEHHP).

InCHIP-Neag LOI Deadline Extension!

February 3, 2016

This is a notification that the deadline to submit Letters of Intent (LOIs) for the InCHIP-Neag School of Education Dual-PI Seed Grant Competition has been extended by one week, from the original date of Friday, February 5, 2016, to a revised date of Friday, February 12, 2016. This extension is intended to account for a revision in the seed grant’s PI eligibility requirements; UConn Health PIs are now eligible to submit to this competition. This document will also be available soon at http://www.inchip.uconn.edu/chip-business-office/seed-grants-and-awards/.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this change, please contact Megan Zhou at megan.zhou@chip.uconn.edu, or at 860-486-5079.

Letter from the Director

February 2, 2016

As the new semester begins, I would like to announce a significant and exciting transformation of CHIP’s role at the University, and also to share some highlights from CHIP’s highly productive fall semester.

InCHIP Director Jeff Fisher
InCHIP Director Jeff Fisher

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Mun Choi recently approved CHIP to become a cross- campus health research institute. As the new Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy, InCHIP essentially will be a center of centers, UConn’s hub for interdisciplinary research collaborations and boundary spanning activities between centers that are focused on health, health behavior change, and health policy and that choose to affiliate across all UConn campuses.

Historically, UConn centers with an interest in health have functioned independently of one another. While past CHIP boundary spanning efforts have connected researchers in different departments and campuses for specific research projects, InCHIP Initiatives will also focus on creating major collaborations at the level of centers, a first at UConn. InCHIP Initiatives will help UConn to realize its health and wellness academic aspirations, to grow its research portfolio significantly, to increase collaborations between UConn and UConn Health, and to enhance the University’s national and international reputation as a leader in health and health behavior change research. InCHIP Initiatives will work across affiliated centers and campuses to organize and optimize research and scholarship in the areas of health, health behavior change, and policy, and to increase the efficiency and outcomes of the overall health research enterprise at UConn.

CHIP will cease to exist and will be replaced by InCHIP, and all current CHIP principal investigators (PIs) and affiliates will automatically become InCHIP principal investigators and affiliates, receiving all of the same benefits of membership and the same research support services they received at CHIP, with enhanced opportunities for research collaboration and support. Stay tuned for more information about InCHIP.

As the news about CHIP becoming InCHIP is late-breaking for this edition of our e-newsletter, the CHIP name and logo are still used throughout the rest of the newsletter, but our next edition will have a new InCHIP design.

Earlier during the fall semester, Biosensor Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention, or BioCHIP as it is known, became a new center within InCHIP, joining the Rudd Center and soon, others. BioCHIP is the first academic center of its kind worldwide, bringing together a diverse range of UConn scientists for the development and application of biosensor-based e-health technologies. Under the direction of its Principal Investigator, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Diane Burgess, BioCHIP first will focus on the prevention and treatment of obesity and related conditions through bio-behavioral intervention packages pairing new metabolic and vital sign sensors with behavioral interventions. At the heart of BioCHIP is a fully implantable sensor developed by InCHIP Principal Investigator (PI) Professor Burgess and her collaborators, Chemistry Professor Fotios Papadimitrakopoulos and InCHIP Affiliate and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Faquir Jain, to monitor blood sugar levels in diabetics. Their sensor now can measure a host of other metabolic markers and can be paired with an external heart rate monitor being developed by InCHIP Affiliate and Professor and Department Head of Biomedical Engineering Ki Chon. InCHIP behavioral scientists under the direction of InCHIP PIs Kim Gans, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, and Amy Gorin, Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences, will work together with the sensor developers to make the 24/7 real-time medical data the sensors provide as useful as possible to future consumers of the e-health technologies and their medical teams, with the ultimate goal of promoting lasting health behavior change.

The Collaboratory on School and Child Health, a new partnership between UConn’s Neag School of Education, Office of Public Engagement and InCHIP, will connect relevant UConn researchers from a range of disciplines and unite them with the shared goals of conducting community-engaged research to inform healthy, safe, supporting and engaging environments for all children and translating their findings into improved policies, processes, and practices. Though a number of UConn researchers already work on these issues separately, the Collaboratory will bring them together under the InCHIP umbrella to focus on fostering health behavior change in children to improve their quality of life and ability to learn. The Collaboratory’s Co-Directors are Professor of Educational Psychology and Associate Dean for Research Sandra Chafouleas, an InCHIP PI, and Professor of Nursing and Office of Public Engagement Director E. Carol Polifroni, an InCHIP Affiliate.

In addition to these new collaborations, InCHIP has launched several new joint Dual PI seed grant programs, with the Neag School of Education in the area of school and child health and also with the UConn Schools of Business and Dental Medicine. InCHIP and UConn Health’s Department of Psychiatry also are continuing the joint Dual PI seed grant program we began last year. More details can be found on the Seed Grants and Awards page of CHIP’s website.

At the same time InCHIP expands its reach into new health areas, the Institute will build on its longstanding research strength in HIV/ AIDS and foster even more collaborations and new lines of research in this area with the help of InCHIP PI and Professor of Psychological Sciences Seth Kalichman, Director of the Southeast HIV and AIDS Research and Evaluation (SHARE) project, who will be forming an HIV/ AIDS Research Interest Group at InCHIP. InCHIP already has research interest groups in the areas of cancer, e-health/ m-health, and obesity.

Finally, I recently made two international trips – to Cuba in November and to Jordan, Israel, and Oman in January – with InCHIP researchers interested in starting new health behavior change research collaborations with universities and other collaborators in those parts of the world. I expect to have more details to share about these outreach efforts soon.

Best Regards,

Jeff Fisher

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Psychological Sciences

Director, Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP)

InCHIP PI C. Michael White in Fox 61 Ask the Pharmacist Segment

January 21, 2016

InCHIP PI C. Michael White
InCHIP PI C. Michael White

C. Michael White, InCHIP PI, Co-Director of UConn Hopes within InCHIP, and Professor and Department Head of Pharmacy Practice, discusses the rising use of heroin in Connecticut, why heroin is gaining popularity, and what folks can do for those using the drug in this installment of Ask the Pharmacist on Fox61.

InCHIP Affiliate Craig Coleman Interviewed by MD Magazine

InCHIP PI Craig Coleman
InCHIP PI Craig Coleman

Craig Coleman, InCHIP Affiliate, Co-Director of UConn Hopes within InCHIP and Professor of Pharmacy Practice, discussed with MD Magazine a study looking at some of the more popular anticoagulants on the market and how effective they are when patients follow the recommended dosage, and also what it can mean when the prescription is not followed. He recently presented the study at the American Heart Association’s annual scientific sessions in Orlando.

InCHIP Obesity Research Featured by Connecticut Health I-Team

InCHIP PI Kim Gans
InCHIP PI Kim Gans

Recent research by InCHIP PI and Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Kim Gans was featured in a Connecticut Health I-Team article, which appeared in the Hartford Courant and CT Post as well. The research examined feeding and physical activity practices in home-based day care settings through focus groups with Hispanic female providers. It was one of six InCHIP studies published in a special section of the October issue of Childhood Obesity.

Sensor at Center of BioCHIP Featured in Hartford Courant

The Hartford Courant recently featured Biorasis, a UConn biomedical start-up company, and its product, “Glucowizzard,” a fully implantable sensor smaller than a grain of rice, which continuously monitors glucose levels and relays real-time data to wristwatch-like receivers and smartphones. InCHIP PI and Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Diane Burgess and her collaborators, Chemistry Professor Fotios Papadimitrakopoulos and InCHIP Affiliate and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Faquir Jain together developed Glucowizzard. It is one of the first two biosensor-based e-health technologies BioCHIP will pair with behavioral health interventions to prevent and address obesity and related conditions.

Rudd Center Study on Weight Predjudices Cited in New York Magazine

InCHIP PI and Rudd Center Deputy Director Rebecca Puhl
InCHIP PI and Rudd Center Deputy Director Rebecca Puhl

A recent multinational study by UConn’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity suggesting that people are in fact considerably sensitive to weight prejudices – and would like to see increased laws and government policies to protect overweight people in the workplace – was featured in New York Magazine and Hartford Business Journal among other media outlets. Rebecca Puhl, an InCHIP PI, Deputy Director of the Rudd Center and a Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, was the lead author of the study.

2016 InCHIP Grantsmanship Training Workshop for Health Behavior Researchers

January 15, 2016

This 6-session workshop is being offered on Fridays from 12 to 2 pm, beginning on February 19, 2016. In this interactive 6-session workshop (2 hours per week for 6 weeks), you will learn the steps of developing a competitive grant proposal in health behavior, including identifying a fundable idea, determining which funders are the most likely to fund your idea, writing a winning grant application, and responding to agency feedback.

InCHIP PI’s New Book Empowers Parents of Children at Risk for Autism

December 7, 2015

9781462520916_resizeFor children at risk for or diagnosed with autism, early intervention – from birth to age 3, when the brain is forming thousands of connections a minute and is its most elastic – is key.

Yet much of this critical time is often wasted, while parents wait for diagnosis and the start of services and because they may lack access to appropriate services, according to UConn Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Psychological Sciences Deborah Fein, an international leader in the field of autism research.

“In the majority of U.S. states, children aren’t getting nearly enough high-quality services,” said Fein, who also is a principal investigator at UConn’s Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP).

In the northeastern United States, parents often are fortunate to have access to 20 hours a week of autism-specific services for their children, Fein said, but, in some parts of the country, the norm is one hour a week. In other parts of the world, lack of services for children with autism is even more problematic, she said.

The Activity Kit for Babies and Toddlers at Risk: How to Use Everyday Routines to Build Social and Communications Skills, a new book by Fein and her collaborators released December 4th, provides parents of young children at risk for autism with the most beneficial activities to do with them on their own – immediately.

“None of the other books currently available to parents combine a strong base in theory, the best evidence-based practices from the field and the nuts and bolts of how to actually do what’s needed at home,” Fein said.

The book’s co-authors are: Molly Helt, who earned her doctoral degree in psychology from UConn and is now an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Trinity College, Lynn Brennan, a board-certified applied behavior analysis (ABA) consultant, and Marianne Barton, a clinical professor in UConn’s Department of Psychological Sciences and director of UConn’s Psychological Services Clinic.

“Down time is not so good for the autistic child,” said Helt, who has a child with autism. “You want to provide as many teachable moments as possible. Research shows that 40 hours a week of direct social engagement is optimal for children with autism, but that can be intimidating to a parent, a lay person.”

“As a parent of an autistic child, I read books and thought, ‘OK, how do I actually do that?’ I wanted specifics,” Helt said. “As a clinician, I hear other parents saying the same thing again and again.”

Helt wanted The Activity Kit for Babies and Toddlers at Risk to be empowering. She wanted to show parents 40 hours of intervention doesn’t have to be delivered solely by professionals or separate from child care tasks and other chores. Toward that end, the book has sheets with lists of very specific activities to do with babies and toddlers while feeding them, changing their diapers, bathing them, and grocery shopping, among other daily activities.

“Parents will want their child’s focus on social stimuli all the time,” Helt said. “It’s where the typically developing child’s attention goes naturally. For the autistic child, parents almost have to force it on the child, to keep creating fun situations where they can practice and you can praise them for performing the skills they need to develop.”

Fein agrees: “There are certain skills that are crucial. If your child is not doing these things, you need to teach them to do so. These include making eye contact, pointing and other forms of communication, imitation, forming attachments, especially to parents and caregivers. You want your child paying attention to you and coming to you for comfort.”

One suggested activity for an infant is to attach jingle bells to his or her socks and for the adult to dance when the baby rings the bells and to freeze when the ringing stops. Another encouraged activity for a toddler is to set up a choice between an apple and a cookie and to teach the child to point to communicate his or her preference, even gently picking up his or her hand to guide it. Other tips include getting very close to make eye contact easier and re-enacting again and again any event that drew a big emotional response – whether it was dropping a bowl of peas from a highchair tray or being surprised by a visit from a grandparent.

Fein said the results parents will see depend on the extent of the child’s autism or cognitive delays: “Success may mean giant strides or a lot of tiny steps.”

Fein also has a National Institutes of Health grant to develop a training web site for parents of children diagnosed with autism, from ages one to 12. The web site will include even more training materials, including videos, but the book was something Fein and her team could put in parents’ hands even sooner.

The Activity Kit for Babies and Toddlers at Risk already is receiving positive reviews at amazon.com, including this one from Dr. Stephanie Switzer, the mother of a child with autism with whom Fein and her collaborators worked:

“I had the tremendous fortune of previewing this book and being coached by the authors when my daughter was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at 14 months old. We actually had fun incorporating the creative activities into our daily lives. Along with therapy, these techniques undoubtedly contributed to my daughter’s amazing progress. Reading this book is like having these four leading consultants guiding you in your home every step of the way.”

Fein said the book’s publisher, The Guilford Press, already is planning to translate “The Activity Kit for Babies and Toddlers at Risk” into Korean and Turkish and the ultimate goal is to have it translated into many languages.