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Deborah Nelson, PhD, associate professor, Department of Public Health, received a $500,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the relationship between violence and unintended pregnancy among urban women.

Half of the 6.7 million pregnancies each year in the U.S. are unintended. Rates of unintended pregnancies are particularly high among unmarried women, minority or urban women, women with limited education, women living in poverty, younger women and women who have experienced interpersonal violence.

“We want to determine how strong the relationship is between high levels of violence and unintended pregnancies in these communities, and if attributes such as high self-esteem, high levels of family and peer support help young women take charge of their sexual health,” she said.

Nelson's study will be conducted in North Philadelphia — a community with particularly high rates of teen pregnancy, violence and infant mortality — and will explore how a woman’s experience with violence can affect her ability to negotiate regular birth control usage.

“If we discover that young women are lacking in the confidence and ability to discuss contraception, then we aren't doing a good job educating young, urban women on their reproductive health," she said. "If we find that low self-esteem is a factor contributing to unintended pregnancy, we need to find ways to build self-esteem among these young women before they become sexually active.
“The overall goal is to make women more resilient so they are more able to take control of their sexual health, and empower them with the skills to use contraception effectively and choose partners who will also use contraception consistently.”
Nadine Martin, PhD, CCC-SLP, professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and Emily Keshner, PT, EdD, professor and chair, Department of Physical Therapy, received a $413,968 NIH grant from the National Institutes of Health for a study titled Promoting Functional Communication Abilities in Aphasia with Virtual Reality.

The goal of the research is to develop software that can recognize context and sound variation in speech while continuing to present meaningful keywords in order to stimulate the generation of interactive speech by individuals with aphasia.

The study will also collect pilot data on the receptiveness of humans to interactions with virtual clinicians and effectiveness of these interactions on functional communication. Results of these studies will lay the foundation for developing interactive human virtual clinician programs to promote maximally effective use of residual language abilities in everyday speaking situations.

The long-term outcome of the study is aimed at providing progressive functional rehabilitation programs through user-friendly software that will transform healthcare delivery by being both economically feasible and accessible to a broad spectrum of the population.

Drs. Martin and Keshner  also received an NIH grant for $33,450 titled, Combined Cognitive Neuroscience/International Virtual Rehabilitation Conferences.

Alice Hausman, PhD, MPH,
professor and interim chair, Department of Public Health, received a $90,000 NIH grant for a study titled Using Academic-Community Partnerships to Address Obesity and Health Literacy.

Nancy Rothman, EdD, RN,
professor, Department of Nursing, received a $50,000 grant from the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, to support Temple Health Connections.

Brad Collins, PhD,
associate professor, Department of Public Health, and Uma Nair, MA, doctoral student, Department of Kinesiology, were awarded a $154,000 grant from the American Heart Association, for their study Using Physical Activity to Reduce Smoking Cue Reactivity among Low-Income Smokers Preparing to Quit Smoking.

Ronald Costen, J.D.,
School of Social Work, was awarded $9,000 from Venango County, PA to support  on-site Basic Protective Services Training for New Investigators.

Mark Salzer, PhD
professor and chair, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, received $12,000 from the Penn Foundation, for Occupational Therapy Training.