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URMC / Clinical & Translational Science Institute / Stories / June 2021 / New KL2 Awardees Tackle Hypertension, GI Health and Suicide Prevention

New KL2 Awardees Tackle Hypertension, GI Health and Suicide Prevention

Starting in July, the UR CTSI has a new crop of budding research faculty starting KL2 projects. The UR CTSI’s KL2 Career Development Award provides two years of support for early career clinical and translational scientists. With the guidance of a mentor team, KL2 scholars develop research projects that set the stage for further K- or R-award applications.

Learn more about this year’s KL2 Career Development Awardees, whose projects range in focus from adolescent suicide prevention to novel ways to assess intestine function and cardiac health.

Network health intervention for adolescents hospitalized for suicide attempts

Ian CeroIan Cero, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral fellow in Psychiatry

Over 30 percent of adolescents who are hospitalized for a suicide attempt will reattempt within one year. For his KL2 project, Cero will adapt a previously validated network health intervention, called Wingman-Connect, to help this particularly high-risk group better regulate their emotions and engage support-guidance relationships. Cero’s adapted intervention, Youth-Connect, is an innovative suicide prevention approach that leverages adolescents’ existing relationships and social networks to build suicide-protective skills. Cero will facilitate Youth-Connect ’s skill development with an in-person intervention prior to adolescent participants being discharged from the hospital, followed by personalized reinforcing text-messages for 12 weeks after discharge.

Cardiac expenditure is a novel digital biomarker in pulmonary arterial hypertension

Daniel LachantDaniel Lachant, D.O.
Assistant professor of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care

Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a rare, life-threatening disorder characterized by high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs. Current diagnostics (heart catheterization and MRI and the six-minute walk test) are either cumbersome and expensive or not entirely reliable. Lachant hopes to supplement or supplant current diagnostics with a new measure: cardiac effort (the number of heart beats required for a person to walk a given distance). Through his KL2 project he will test whether cardiac effort is a more sensitive and reliable measure of right ventricular function than the standard the six-minute walk test, which is plagued by confounding factors and variability. Lachant will also develop a remote, mask-free assessment of cardiac effort and heart rate expenditure that patients can perform in the comfort of their own homes.

Computational measurement tools for in-vivo non-invasive determination of small intestine function

Nicole WilsonNicole Wilson, Ph.D., M.D.
Assistant professor of Surgery (Pediatric Surgery), Pediatrics, and Biomedical Engineering

Diseases of the small intestine affect many people across all ages and can be quite debilitating, often requiring parenteral nutrition or surgical lengthening of the intestine. However, measures of small intestine function that guide diagnosis and treatment are lacking. With KL2 funding, Wilson plans to develop and validate a digital tool that can non-invasively measure the physical properties of the small intestine. She will use a novel computer vision-based software to calculate the length of a patient’s small intestine, develop a 3D model of intestinal structure and thoroughly investigate the properties of the intestinal tissue. She hopes this new tool will make it easier to assess patients’ intestinal health and predict their ability to thrive.


The projects described in this article are supported by the University of Rochester CTSA award KL2 TR001999 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Michael Hazard | 6/8/2021

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