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Optimizing Hookah Tobacco Public Education Messages to Reduce Young Adult Use

Socializing at hookah bars isn't all fun and games. Smooking hookah with friends exposes you to even more poisonous chemicals than ciggrate smoking

It is a study examining cognitive and emotional responses to anti-hookah messages within 4 themes: 1) Health Harms, 2) Addictiveness, 3) Social Use, and 4) Flavoring. Targeting young adults’ hookah use, the goal of this study is to identify optimal message content within each of the 4 themes poised to affect target behavioral outcomes. This research is funded by an NIH/NCI R01 grant.

CASR Lead: Glenn Leshner

Testing health communication messages about marijuana related harm among young adults

Marijuana, it lowers intelligence. New research shows a permanent drop in IQ when marijuana is used regularly before the age of 18.

It is a study examining the appeal and receptivity of key features of marijuana health risk messages. The pilot data include psychophysiological and self-report measures and were included in an NIH/NIDA grant proposal.

CASR Lead: Glenn Leshner

E-cigarette study: The effects of message type, alternative, and smoking cues

CDC. E-Cigarette ads threaten to reverse progress preventing youth tobacco use.

It is a study examining the combined effects of message type, message strategy, and smoking cues in e-cigarette advertisements and PSAs that position e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to other tobacco products. This study seeks to measure the impact of messages on the cognitive and emotional responses of cigarette smokers. This project is funded by the Edward L. and Thelma Gaylord Endowed Chair in Journalism.

CASR Lead: Glenn Leshner

Iron status at the menopausal transition


Is being low in iron at menopause a risk factor or a protective factor with respect to later neurodegenerative diseases? When monthly blood loss stops, iron can begin to accumulate in brain tissues and this can act as a source of oxidative stress, one of the factors that contributes to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease. This project is a cross-sectional examination of this question, examining women who are either low in iron or have normal iron levels at the very earliest and latest stages of menopause. This project involves behavioral measures of cognitive function, EEG measures of brain function, blood measures of systemic iron levels, and MRI measures of brain iron deposits. 

CASR Lead: Drs. Pamela Miles (OUHSC), Doris Benbrook (OUHSC), and Dee Wu (OUHSC).

Iron status and smoking cessation

Ready to quit smoking?

Does being low in iron represent an additional burden to women who are attempting to quit smoking? Low levels of iron can disrupt signaling by the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays an important role in processing reward. Women generally have a harder time quitting smoking than do men, unless a monetary reward is provided. This project is examining the extent to which being low in iron has an effect on processing reward and thus on the ability to process the rewards associated with quitting smoking. This project involves blood measures of iron status, behavioral measures of cognitive functioning, and EEG measures of brain function. 

CASR Lead: Dr. Darla Kendzor (Health Promotion Research Center, OUHSC).

Iron deficiency and dopamine signaling in the retina

The retina at the back of the is rich in dopamine receptors, and the level of dopamine receptors in the eye is proportional to the level of dopamine receptors in areas of the central nervous system. This project is examining the extent to which the electroretinogram (ERG)---a signal generated at the back of the eye---can provide an indication of the extent to which iron deficiency is disrupting dopamine status in the eye and, by association, in the central nervous system. This project involves blood measures of iron status, EEG measures of brain function, ERG measures of signaling in the eye, and behavioral measures of perception and cognition.

CASR Lead: Michael Wenger

Iron deficiency anemia in cancer treatment related cognitive impairment

Human brain and colorful question mark  draw on blackboard

If a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer (for example), she will very frequently undergo chemotherapy. One result of this treatment is a measurable impairment in attention and memory. Intriguingly, one of the major drugs used for chemotherapy does not cross the blood-brain barrier and does cause severe iron deficiency and anemia. This feasibility study is examining the hypothesis that the iron deficiency anemia mediates the relationship between cancer treatment and cognitive impairment. This project involves blood measures of iron status, behavioral measures of attention and memory, EEG and functional near-infrared spectroscopy measures of brain function and neurovascular coupling, and MRI measures of brain iron deposits. 

CASR Lead: Drs. Joan Walker (OUHSC), Anna Csiszar (OUHSC), and Dee Wu (OUHSC).

GeroOncology Program Development: From Bench to Bedside to Community

This project seeks to integrate OU’s long-standing but independent research efforts in cancer and aging into an integrative and translational GeroOncology program. The project focuses on developing an interdisciplinary program to study the molecular underpinnings of the increased risk for cancer with age, investigating strategies to delay cancer development in the aging population, and improving care and outcomes for older patients with cancer. This project seeks to: 1) Stimulate collaborative research and strategically integrate basic science research into GeroOncology, and 2) Develop a sustainable strategic plan that incorporates Oklahoma’s diverse communities.

CASR lead: Lori Jervis
Funder: National Cancer Institute

Assessing Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Rural Tribal and Non-Tribal Oklahoma Communities

Southeast Oklahoma

This project utilized rapid appraisal methods to examine how rural tribal and non-tribal communities in Oklahoma responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Observations of face masking in urban and rural communities found geographic differences in rates of face mask use. Interviews with a wide range of citizenry in smaller communities found vast differences in attitudes toward COVID-19, with some participants concerned only with the pandemic’s economic impacts, while others (primarily community leaders) also grappled with community trauma and struggled to manage local civil strife.

CASR Lead: Lori Jervis
Funder: University of Oklahoma Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships

Tribal Engagements on Cancer Biology Research

A picture depicting a Cancer Cell in body

Funded by a supplement to the Stephenson Cancer Center Support Grant, this project seeks to apply approaches to community engagement in the context of possible research into the biology of cancer disparities in Oklahoma tribal communities. The project will host discussions in three different Oklahoma tribal communities with the aim of informing recommendations from the Stephenson Cancer Center’s Tribal Advisory Council.

CASR Lead: Paul Spicer 

Dissemination of a Colorectal Cancer Screening Program Across American Indian Communities in the Southern Plains and Southwest United States

Colon Cancer Screening

The Cancer Moonshot, authorized by Congress in 2016, funded a robust partnership comprised of three NCI-designated Cancer Centers – including University of Arizona Comprehensive Cancer Center (UACC; Arizona), University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center (UNMCCC; New Mexico), and the Stephenson Cancer Center (SCC; Oklahoma) – and a core set partners representing IHS (I), Tribal (T) and Urban Indian (U) health care facilities across Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma. The long-term goal of the AI CRC Screening Consortium is to reduce CRC disparities in morbidity, mortality, stage-at-diagnosis, and increased survival among AIs.   

CASR lead: Jessica Blanchard

Deliberation about Genomics in Tribal Communities

Conference Meeting

The Center for the Ethics of Indigenous Genomic Research (CEIGR) adapted democratic deliberation, an approach to stakeholder engagement, to better understand the community-based values and priorities related to genomics research in tribal communities. Public deliberation convenes people from diverse backgrounds in reasoned reflection and dialogue in search of collective solutions. This approach has now been used in collaboration with tribal partners across the U.S. and is currently being adapted for continued use with new tribal partner sites. 

For more information:

CASR lead: Jessica Blanchard

Vaccine Health Messaging for at Risk Groups

Covid-19 Vaccine Shot being given to public

Health messages are critically important as the United States and countries around the world strive to achieve vaccination rates sufficient for herd immunity to slow the spread of Covid-19 and its variants and to ultimately end the pandemic. In light of the size and diversity of the U.S. population and varying cultural beliefs, scientific understanding, trust in government, and other factors, a one-size-fits-all vaccine information effort is unlikely to succeed. This project was funded by an internal seed grant from the University of Oklahoma’s Data Institute for Society Challenges (DISC) and focuses on understanding the primary concerns and fears of various sociodemographic groups, exposure to misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines, and effects on vaccination intentions of different Covid-19 vaccine health messages in these populations.

CASR Lead: Shane Connelly