Two Psychology Colleges Obtain NIH Grants To Advance Research



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Two UTRGV professors in the Department of Psychological Studies received new grants from the National Institutes of Health.  (UTRGV photo by David Pike)
Two UTRGV professors in the Department of Psychological Studies received new grants from the National Institutes of Health. (UTRGV photo by David Pike)

Mega Doctor News

By Victoria Brito Morales

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – Two UTRGV professors in the Department of Psychological Studies received new grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Laura Seligman, professor of psychosocial sciences, received a grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at NIH to study ways to prevent dental phobia. (Courtesy photo)

Dr. Laura Seligman, professor of psychosocial sciences, received a grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at NIH to study ways to prevent dental phobia.

And Dr. Mario Gil, Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences, received a Career Development Award from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, NIH, for his project titled “Role of Arginine-Vasopressin and the V1A Receptor in Myocardial Injury Induced by psychosocial stress “.

REDUCE DENTAL PHOBIA

Seligman, a grant principal investigator with former University of Toledo colleague Dr. Andrew Geers, professor of psychology and co-PI, are working on a research project titled “Identifying Latent Inhibition Mechanisms to Prevent dental fear ”to study ways to prevent the kind of dental phobia that can prevent people from getting the important care they need.

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This three-year, $ 1.4 million NIH grant took effect in August 2021 and supports health-related research and development.

Seligman’s area of ​​research expertise is anxiety and depression, or internalizing disorders, in youth, children and adolescents.

When she first arrived in the Rio Grande Valley in 2014, Seligman said she had heard of children having such fear of the dentist that they would not go or needed anesthesia. general to be treated.

“This study needs to do some groundwork, looking at whether we can figure out how to prevent people from experiencing or developing dental phobia,” she said.

The goal of the research is to better understand how we learn, or don’t learn, new information in psychology and to harness this knowledge to prevent severe dental anxiety.

“Your mouth is important because it is a gateway to the rest of your body,” Seligman said. “Many people who suffer from dental phobia can attest that it is very distressing.”

STRESS AND HEART

Gil is the only Principal Investigator on this five-year K01 scholarship, which will also give students the chance to participate in the research project, which is now in its first year.

Dr. Mario Gil, Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences, received a Career Development Award from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, NIH, for his project entitled “Role of Arginine-Vasopressin and the V1A Receptor in Myocardial Injury Induced by psychosocial stress ”. (Courtesy photo)

“I think it’s very humbling to receive this ‘Career Development’ award, to realize how difficult it is to get it,” said Gil. “It’s a very competitive grant to get, and it’s been quite a journey. “

Using animal models, Gil will expose subjects in a human way to psychological stress and study the effects on the cardiovascular system and the interactions between the heart and the brain.

“We know there is a relationship between psychosocial or psychological stress and cardiovascular disease, but the problem is, we don’t fully understand the mechanism – what’s the connection, what exactly is going on,” Gil said.

The goal of an NIH K01 grant “is to provide support and protected time for an intensive and supervised career development experience in the biomedical, behavioral or clinical sciences leading to research independence.”

Part of that award is to identify a mentoring team, which Gil has identified as:

Dr Laura Seligman, professor of psychological sciences at UTRGV.

Dr. Gabriel de Erausquin (UTHSCSA) distinguished professor of neurology at UT Health Science Center San Antonio School of Medicine.

Dr Gladys Maestre, Professor of Biomedical Sciences at UTRGV School of Medicine and Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center for Research in Minority Aging.

Dr Chun Xu, Associate Professor at UTRGV Department of Health Sciences and Biomedical Sciences.

Dr. Victor Davila-Roman, Professor of Medicine, Anesthesiology and Radiology in the John T. Milliken Department of Internal Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (WUSTL).

Dr Nazareno Paolocci, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Dr Lisa de las Fuentes, Professor of Medicine and Biostatistics in the John T. Milliken Department of Internal Medicine at WUSTL.

And Dr Ihsan Salloum, director of the UTRGV School of Medicine Institute of Neuroscience.

Seligman is Gil’s department mentor at UTRGV.

“Dr. Seligman has been very nice,” Gil said. “You need to identify mentors and have a plan to develop skills that advance your career. And then there’s the research.


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