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The Yale School of Nursing was recently awarded a $2.5 million grant in order to study the effects of a variety of diseases on individuals and their families in at-risk, diverse populations.

The funding, provided by the National Institute of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health, will go to the School of Nursing’s Exploratory Center on Self and Family Management for Vulnerable Populations. The center currently focuses on developing and testing strategies to promote health and quality of life for individuals and families in at-risk populations, using both medical and behavioral approaches.

“The work of the center is about how individuals in families manage chronic conditions or risk for chronic conditions, and developing approaches to helping them do that better,” Grey said.

This grant will establish the Exploratory Center as a “Core Center,” a designation that will permit the center to increase support services for people and their families in managing health problems, according to Yale School of Nursing spokesman Ilya Sverdlov. It will be only one of nine such centers nationally.

“We have a number of investigators doing significant work in a particular area, and the investment by the federal government — will bring those people together and help us more rapidly come to a place where we can make more and better contributions to health care,” said center Director Margaret Grey, associate dean for research affairs at the School of Medicine.

The center will cultivate the collaboration of many investigators through better technology, shared resources and more frequent communication in the form of researchers’ forums. The Center will also work to make closer ties with Yale’s other clinical and social science resources to explore the behavioral perspective of health issues.

Also, the Center will work to develop faculty members through the involvement and mentorship of researchers and students interested in self and family management.

In addition to the social and psychological situations that result from chronic diseases, the studies will include the treatment of the disease from a medical perspective.

“It’s really characteristic of the kind of research in nursing, that we pay attention to both the physiologic and the psychosocial,” Grey said. “We’re interested in improving outcomes of the illness and improving the quality of life — This is all with the goal of ultimately being able to help people manage better.”

Grey’s personal research concerns children with diabetes and the means by which their diseases can be handled more effectively. Other projects include studies of African-American women affected with Type II Diabetes, concentrating on ways to better help this specific population manage their disease.

Pilot studies this year will also examine teen pregnancy — specifically home visiting for teen mothers, the management of advanced ovarian cancer, and the self-management of survivors of childhood cancers related to metabolic disorders.