InCHIP’s FY18 Seed Grants Announced

InCHIP is excited to announce its internal seed grant competitions for the 2018 Fiscal Year.

This year’s seed grant funding includes:

InCHIP Intervention Core Workshops (2017-2018)

We are pleased to announce InCHIP’s Intervention Core Workshops for 2017-2018!
Please check back frequently, additional workshops may be forthcoming


Rosalie Corona, PhD
Virginia Commonwealth University
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Time: 3:00 – 4:00pm

“Adapting Evidence-Based Health Interventions for Working with Latina/os”
Latina/os are the largest minority group in the United States yet this group experiences significant health disparities. The current workshop will provide an overview of strategies used in adapting evidence-based prevention and treatment interventions as applied among two diverse Latina/o samples: (a) mental health treatment for Latina/os and (b) family cancer assessment and communication intervention among Latina women and families. Cultural adaptation involves a number of issues such as conceptualizing culture and context, selecting a framework and level of adaptation, identifying core intervention components, involving the target population and identifying factors impacting cultural relevance and adaptation mismatch. These issues will be addressed as they pertain to Latina/os, with an emphasis on strategies for navigating the conflict between maintaining fidelity to the original intervention and adapting the intervention to meet the needs of the cultural group.


David Sherman, PhD
University of California, Santa Barbara
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Time: 2:30 – 3:30pm

RSVP for this workshop
“Using Affirmation to Improve the Efficacy of Health Promotion Interventions”
In this workshop, I will review self-affirmation theory and discuss conditions where self-affirming activities, such as writing about values, can promote positive health outcomes. Key outcomes include increased acceptance of health-relevant information, more healthful intentions and behaviors, and stress reduction (for reviews see Cohen & Sherman, 2014; Epton & Harris, 2009, 2010; for meta-analyses see Sweeney & Moyer, 2015; Epton, Harris, Kane, van Koningsbruggen, & Sheeran, 2015). I will describe a variety of self-affirmation implementations that have been used in different lab and field settings. Self-affirmation studies have been conducted in contexts such as hospitals and medical clinics, on cigarette labels and as part of health brochures, via the internet, and while undergoing fMRI. Key issues to be addressed include how to determine whether affirmation is appropriate to incorporate as part of a health intervention program and how to tailor an affirmation for different research contexts and samples.


Lisa Butler, PhD
Thursday, March 8, 2018
Time: 11:30 – 2:00pm

RSVP for this workshop
“Participatory Methods for Developing Health-Promotion Media and Materials for Low-Literacy Populations”
Drawing from methods Dr. Butler has used in intervention studies in sub-Saharan Africa, participants will be led through a rapid process of developing and producing health-promotion media and materials for use as part of intervention studies and/or health promotion programs. This will be a hands-on workshop in which participants will be asked to work in small groups based on expertise / areas of interest (e.g., HIV, nutrition, substance use, etc). When indicating plans to attend, please indicate your area of expertise/interest.


William A. Fisher, PhD
Western University London, Ontario, Canada / UConn
Thursday, April 26, 2018
Time: 10:00 – 11:30am

RSVP for this workshop
“What’s a Nice Scientist Like You Doing in a Place Like This? Social Psychology and the Design of Clinical Trials in Sexual Medicine”
This workshop will discuss, with participants, two decades of clinical trial design and interpretation in the area of sexual psychopharmacology, including the development of sexual performance enhancing drugs such as Levitra (PDE5 inhibitors) and Addyi (flibanserin).

InCHIP Grant Writing Boot Camp Begins 9/18

We are happy to announce that InCHIP’s Training and Development Core will be holding a year-long Grant Writing Boot Camp. The Boot Camp will begin on Monday, September 18th from 12-1PM and will consist of 10 sessions across the academic year.

All ten sessions will take place on Mondays from 12-1PM on the following dates:

Fall Semester

  • 9/18
  • 10/2
  • 10/16
  • 10/30
  • 12/4

Spring Semester

  • 1/29
  • 2/12
  • 3/5
  • Individual Meetings*
  • 4/9

*In the interim between 3/5 and 4/9 we will hold meetings between participants and grant writing experts who will give them feedback on their proposal as it stands at that point.

Who should attend: This series is designed for faculty who conduct health-related research. Faculty who want to pursue external funding and who are committed to writing a grant proposal during this academic year are encouraged to participate.

What to expect: With structured guidance, over the course of the year you will write the various sections of your grant and receive feedback from fellow participants and InCHIP investigators with grant writing expertise. By the end of the 10-session Boot Camp, you will have a solid grant proposal that is ready to be submitted to an external agency.

To join the Grant Writing Boot Camp, CLICK HERE

Note: If you have grant writing experience and would be interested in participating as a reviewer, please contact ( or Amy Gorin (

UConn CSCH Encore Conference – Details Announced (Monday, September 18, 2017)


Dear InCHIP Affiliates,

The first annual UConn Collaboratory on School and Child Health Encore Conference will be held at the Lyceum Conference Center in Hartford on Monday, September 18, 2017, from 4-6 p.m.

The CSCH Encore conference provides an opportunity for participants to learn about work related to school and/or child health that affiliates have presented previously at an external conference. The event will include a poster “encore” session (meaning presenters share work they have already presented in another setting) and active networking. There will be a special opportunity to participate in an on-the-spot seed grant competition for up to $8,000. Refreshments will be provided.

The event is open to all people that are CSCH affiliates (faculty, postdocs, students, community partners) by the time of the event. If you plan to attend, please complete this registration form no later than Wednesday, September 6, 2017.

If you would like to submit a poster presentation, you must complete the registration form and indicate that you would like to present a poster by the due date. We have up to 40 spaces available for posters, which will be accepted on a first come basis. Posters must be no larger than 24” (height) by 36” (width).

We look forward to seeing you at the event!


Have trouble with the registration link above? Just copy and paste this link into your browser:


Helene M. Marcy
Project Manager, NEEDs2 Project (
Program Manager, UConn Collaboratory on School and Child Health ▪ @UConnCSCH
University of Connecticut

Drs. Sherry Pagoto and Molly Waring from the University of Massachusetts Medical School to join InCHIP and the Department of Allied Health Sciences

InCHIP is pleased to announce that Drs. Sherry Pagoto and Molly Waring from the University of Massachusetts Medical School will be joining InCHIP and the Department of Allied Health Sciences at UConn in the fall.

Sherry Pagoto, PhD

Dr. Pagoto, a licensed clinical psychologist, is an international leader in digital health with over 160 published articles on topics related to the prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. She is the president-elect of the Society of Behavioral Medicine and is a respected advocate for health promotion and science communication with over 20,000 followers on Twitter. Dr. Pagoto’s research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and she brings over $6 million in grant funding to UConn including projects exploring ways to leverage social media and mobile apps for health behavior change. At InCHIP, Dr. Pagoto will be the Director of the UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media.The Center, located at InCHIP on the second floor of the Ray Ryan Building on the Storrs campus, will have a staff of 7 and will provide consultation to researchers on research design, recruitment, and data analyses for mHealth and online social networking studies, assist researchers in getting their mobile health apps and online intervention content developed, and provide training opportunities for faculty and staff in mHealth and social media. Dr. Pagoto will be Professor in the Department of Allied Health Sciences in College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, where she will teach, advise and play an active role in the Health Promotion Sciences graduate program.

Molly Waring, PhD

Joining Dr. Pagoto is Dr. Molly Waring, an epidemiologist with a focus on technology-based weight management interventions for women who are pregnant or of child-bearing age. Dr. Waring was recently awarded a 3-year R34 from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute to develop and pilot test a Facebook-delivered weight loss intervention in postpartum women. Dr. Waring will become Assistant Professor in the Department of Allied Health Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, where she will be active in teaching, conducting research, and advising, as well as contribute to the graduate program in Health Promotion Sciences.

The hiring of Drs. Pagoto and Waring and the creation of the UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media reflects InCHIP’s commitment to conducting world-class research in health promotion and greatly enhances UConn investigators’ ability to develop and test innovative mhealth interventions. Drs. Pagoto and Waring will both be active in InCHIP’s existing ehealth/mhealth Research Interest Group.

Please join us at our annual meeting on September 28th to welcome Drs. Pagoto and Waring and to learn more about the new Center for mHealth and Social Media.

From the Director

Dear InCHIP Affiliates, Staff, and Friends:

Jeff FisherYou may have heard that Vice President for Research Jeff Seemann announced recently (see below) that I will be retiring from UConn, effective August 22, 2018. We chose to announce my retirement well in advance to ensure a well-timed search for my successor, a smooth transition, and time to begin the planning process to assure InCHIP’s future success.

The announcement includes some nice things about my research career and about InCHIP’s accomplishments since it began in 2002. My research accomplishments have been a team effort. My NIH-supported HIV prevention research involved a wonderful twenty-five year collaboration with Dr. Bill Fisher, who happens to be my brother. Other long-term collaborators Drs. Deborah Cornman and Rivet Amico were important contributors for many years, as were many outstanding post-docs, graduate students, and professional employees.

Our success at InCHIP is due to a remarkable team of associate directors (Drs. Deborah Cornman and Amy Gorin), a “world-class” group of highly productive research faculty, and many dedicated and highly skilled professional employees. We have also had wonderful support from all levels of the University. The UConn administration has assured us that InCHIP will remain a high priority, as evidenced, in part, by their decision to launch a national search for my successor during challenging budgetary times. The search is, of course, also open to internal candidates. I am confident that what we have accomplished at InCHIP is just the beginning of an exciting future for the Institute.

Starting and directing InCHIP has been one of the highest privileges of my professional life. I am grateful to the University for giving us such a remarkable opportunity. I look forward to the next thirteen months as Director, and to working with you all, as we continue to encourage people, in many different contexts, to achieve their healthiest lives.

All the very best,

Jeffrey D. Fisher, Ph.D
Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Psychological Sciences
Director, Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy
University of Connecticut
Storrs, Connecticut 06269

Read Announcement by Jeff Seemann

Health Geographer Debarchana Ghosh and Student Mengyao Zhang Use GIS Mapping to Explore the Impact of Supermarket “Redlining” on Healthy Food Access in Hartford

By Loretta Waldman

Spatial Distribution of Supermarket Redlining Model (SuRIM)

“Redlining” is the illegal discriminatory practice of denying services to residents of certain areas based on the racial or ethnic composition of those areas, and it is most commonly associated with the banking, insurance, and real estate industries. In a less common use of the concept, InCHIP Principal Investigator Debarchana Ghosh, PhD (Geography) and her graduate student Mengyao Zhang, examined how “supermarket redlining” has limited the access that residents of Hartford’s low-income neighborhoods have to fresh nutritious foods.

“Supermarket redlining” is a term used to describe a phenomenon where major chain supermarkets are disinclined to locate their stores in inner cities or low-income neighborhoods and move their existing stores out of those locations and relocate them to suburbs. The reasons for supermarket redlining are many and varied including lower demand; the higher cost of urban land, labor, and utilities; lower profit margins associated with perishable foods; the risk of theft in inner cities; the challenge of finding locations big enough to accommodate a new building of 50,000 square feet or more; and competition from other investments, such as the plan for a new $60 million baseball stadium that the city of Hartford chose to pursue instead of a new grocery store at the same location.

Ghosh and Zhang used a combination of quantitative data analysis and Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping technology to study the relationship between geography or “location” and healthy food access in Hartford. They chose to study this practice because there is limited empirical data on the health impact of supermarket redlining. The findings from this study were published in 2016 in Transactions in GIS, and according to Dr. Ghosh, it is the first study to use potential spatial supermarket “redlining” as an indicator of risk for food insecurity and “food deserts” (locations where affordable and healthy food is difficult to access).

Rather than focus on a particular racial or ethnic group, Ghosh and Zhang examined all low-income people with limited access to affordable healthy food in Hartford. The primary focus of their research was on the spatial segregation or discrimination caused by chain supermarkets either closing or relocating to the suburbs. Ghosh and Zhang first calculated a “Supermarket Redlining Index” (SuRI) from five indicators to rank supermarkets in order of importance. These indicators included sales volume, employee count, acceptance of food coupons from the SNAP and WIC government assistance programs, and the size and population density of the service area. To understand the effects of supermarket closures, they next built a Supermarket Redlining Impact Model (SuRIM) using 11 indicators describing both socioeconomic and food access vulnerabilities, the interaction of which identified neighborhoods maximally impacted by spatial supermarket redlining.

The results of the study mapped critical areas of inner city Hartford where, if a nearby supermarket were to close down or relocate to the suburbs, large numbers of minority poor and disadvantaged residents would have difficulty accessing food, leading to food insecurity and perhaps a food desert. “These are the areas in the northwest of the city, basically upper downtown and north of downtown,” Dr. Ghosh explained, “…that are really critical in terms of becoming food deserts. We found out there will be a real problem in terms of accessing nutritious food and that efforts will be needed to reduce the impact of larger supermarket closures.” According to a Federal Government survey, there has been a steady rise in the percentage of households in Connecticut with food insecurity, from 7.6% in 2000-2002 to 13.4% in 2010-2012. Of those households, 36.6 percent were considered at a critical level of food insecurity. In Harford, 11 of the city’s 13 supermarkets – 85% – left the city between 1968 and 1984, and few supermarkets have opened to replace them.

Residents that live in neighborhoods where there is a cluster of large supermarkets in close proximity are less vulnerable to food insecurity when a supermarket closes or relocates, but these neighborhoods tend to be more affluent suburban neighborhoods (e.g., northwest of West Hartford, Newington, south of Wethersfield). In low-income neighborhoods, there are few supermarket options, so when a supermarket closes, only those residents who have the resources to travel the extra miles to an alternate supermarket are less vulnerable to food insecurity. Given that supermarket chains are unlikely to invest in opening new stores in these areas, mitigation efforts to minimize food insecurity and relative negative health outcomes are critical.  Ghosh and Zhang’s recommendations for improving access in these neighborhoods include investing more in fresh food stocks at the existing local medium- to small-sized grocery stores and corner stores, and encouraging more urban farms and community gardens to increase options for healthy foods for at least a few months of the year.

Study Suggests Weight Loss Outcomes Improve when Participants Increase Breakfast Eating but Not Eating Frequency

By Loretta Waldman

The interplay between breakfast eating, eating frequency, and long-term weight loss was the focus of a recent study by Associate Professor of Allied Health Sciences and InCHIP Principal Investigator Tricia Leahey, PhD. In a paper published in January 2017 in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Dr. Leahey and her co-authors shared the results of a two-year study suggesting that increasing breakfast eating while simultaneously reducing or maintaining eating frequency, may influence weight management outcomes.

Their findings built on previous research that looked at breakfast eating alone in connection with weight loss. What makes this study novel is that it simultaneously examines breakfast eating and  frequency of food consumption.  “These two areas haven’t spoken to each other much,” explained Dr. Leahey, Principal Investigator of the study. “Breakfast eating has been one body of work, and eating frequency has been another. This is the first study that looks at both in concert to see if they interact with one another.”

Dr. Leahey specializes in obesity research with a focus on lifestyle interventions, including behavioral strategies to promote healthy eating, reduce caloric intake, and increase physical activity. Her collaborators on this study were Rena Wing, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University, and Maureen Megson, an UConn undergraduate Honors student who graduated in 2016 and is first author on this paper.

This study was part of a larger trial, on which Dr. Leahey is the Principal Investigator, examining the effects of adding behavioral weight loss strategies to Shape Up Rhode Island (SURI). SURI is a statewide exercise and weight loss program founded in 2005 by Rajiv Kumar, MD that uses teamwork and peer support to increase healthy behavior. A total of 230 study participants were recruited for the trial through local employers and mass media; eligibility was based on age, body mass index and other criteria. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three invention conditions for a period of three months: (1) SURI alone, (2) SURI and an Internet behavioral weight loss program, or (3) SURI, an Internet behavioral weight loss program, and optional group meetings.

This study examined the effects of breakfast eating and total eating frequency on baseline Body Mass Index (BMI) and weight loss outcomes in adults with overweight or obesity who were seeking weight loss treatment. The results revealed that breakfast eating during treatment was significantly associated with better weight loss outcomes. More specifically, those who achieved the 5 percent NIH benchmark for a clinically meaningful weight loss during treatment had greater increases in breakfast eating compared to those who did not achieve this benchmark. Additionally, among participants who increased breakfast eating, those who had either no change or a decrease in total daily eating frequency (meals plus snacks) were more likely to achieve a 5 percent weight loss compared to those who had an increase in total daily eating frequency.

The findings are consistent with previous trials showing breakfast eating improves weight loss outcomes and with findings of the National Weight Control Registry demonstrating that breakfast eating is an important behavior for successful long-term weight control. They are also consistent with other studies that found no evidence that frequency of food consumption alone has an effect on overall weight loss outcomes.

This study opens up some novel areas for future research, according to Dr. Leahey, and underscores the importance of taking eating frequency variables into consideration when prescribing breakfast eating.  “The research on the effects of breakfast eating on weight loss outcomes has been somewhat mixed. This study suggests that we may get more consistent results that are more conclusive, if we take into consideration frequency of eating when it comes to breakfast eating. Instead of only suggesting people eat breakfast more often, it’s also important to tell them to keep an eye on overall intake, so it doesn’t increase as well. So add in the breakfast, take out a snack or just make sure you’re not adding in extra meal times.”

The findings from this study are very relevant to research that Dr. Leahey is now doing with young adults, aged 18 to 25. Young adults tend to engage in several negative health behaviors, such as drinking, regularly eating fast food, and skipping breakfast, all of which contribute to weight gain and may adversely affect weight management efforts. The results from Dr. Leahey’s adult breakfast eating study could inform weight management strategies that are suggested to young adults.


InCHIP Researcher Valerie Duffy Instrumental in Getting Taste and Smell Measures into Major National U.S. Health Survey

By Loretta Waldman

The importance of smell and taste is underappreciated, according to Valerie Duffy, Professor of Allied Health Sciences and InCHIP Principal Investigator. These senses enable us to detect pleasurable and unpleasant aromas as well as warning odors, such as the smell of natural gas. They also trigger specific memories and emotions, and drive what we like and choose to eat. These “forgotten” senses play significant roles in our lives, which is why Dr. Duffy was so excited about the addition of a chemosensory component to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) protocol.

NHANES is a survey research program conducted by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which assesses the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States and tracks changes over time. The very first NHANES protocol was conducted in 1971, and it has been administered annually since 1999. It is the primary way that researchers monitor the health of the U.S. population, including the prevalence of major diseases and risk factors for diseases.

The 2011-2014 NHANES was the first battery of assessments in which taste and smell assessments were included, and this change is due in large part to the efforts of Dr. Duffy and her team: former UConn graduate student Shristi Rawal, PhD at National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and Howard Hoffman, MA at National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). The addition of chemosensory assessments to the NHANES has created new opportunities for data collection and analysis, such as estimating the prevalence and risks of smell and taste alterations, and the associations between smell and taste perception and a wide range of measures of health and well-being.

Over the last year, Dr. Duffy and her team have published articles using the data from the NHANES survey, including a paper published in Reviews of Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders that provides an overview of the NHANES taste and smell protocol and reports on the first results from the 2012 NHANES olfactory exam findings, including the prevalence of olfactory dysfunction. The 2012 NHANES involved the collection of questionnaire and clinical measures from a nationally-representative sample of the non-institutionalized, civilian U.S. population. The sample for Duffy’s olfactory study consisted of 1281 adults, aged 40 years and over, who completed the 8-item odor identification test (Pocket Smell Test or PST) along with the Chemosensory Questionnaire (CSQ), which assesses perceived smell and taste problems. Olfactory dysfunction was found in 12.4% (55% males/45% females) of participants, including 4.2% of 40- to 49-year-olds, 12.7% of 60- to 69-year-olds, and 39.4% of those 80 years and older. Among adults aged 70 years and older, misidentification rates for warning odors were 20.3% for smoke and 31.3% for natural gas. “For the first time, we have evidence of smell impairment that is equal to vision and hearing,” stated Dr. Duffy. “When we have over 30% of people over 70 who can’t smell a natural gas warning odor, it’s a problem. This new knowledge supports the need for advances in public health, clinical care, and research to address smell impairment in health promotion and disease prevention efforts.”

The taste measure used in the NHANES survey was developed by Dr. Duffy after many years of collecting data in her lab at UConn. She recently published a paper in the journal Obesity, where she used that measure, among others, to model associations between taste and obesity among women with self-reported histories of risks factors for altered taste functioning: tonsillectomy, multiple ear infections, and head trauma. There is evidence from other studies that certain health conditions may lead to taste damage which in turn may alter food preferences and increase the risk for obesity. Dr. Duffy wanted to try to better understand this relationship, so she studied a sample of 407 women, 24% of whom had elevated waist circumferences, and 39% had overweight or obesity. Dr. Duffy and her colleagues, Dr. Rawal, Mr. Hoffman, and InCHIP researcher Tania Huedo-Medina, PhD (Allied Health Sciences) found that abdominal obesity was directly linked with a history of tonsillectomy and multiple ear infections and also directly linked with lower taste functioning. In addition, risk factors for taste alterations were significantly associated with lower taste functioning, with taste mediating the association between head trauma and reduced body fat. Dr. Duffy intends to confirm these findings with other population-based studies, including the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2013-2014 taste data.