Emory University Awards NIH CTSA Pilot Grant to Dr. Jessica Knight

Dr. Jessica Knight, Assistant Professor, in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and former OIBR Grant Development Program participant, has been granted a pilot award by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program. The grant, valued at $57,337, has been awarded for her research project, “Addressing stress-related pathways of disparities in cardiovascular health for young Georgia families using a wearable biometric device (CTSA Pilot).”

This innovative project seeks to explore new ways of understanding and addressing disparities in cardiovascular health, particularly in young Georgia families. They aim to achieve this through the utilization of cutting-edge technology and novel research methods. The project’s primary focus is on measuring and evaluating heart rate variability (HRV) responses to stress, an essential factor in cardiovascular health.

The research team plans to combine several key elements in their approach, including ecologic momentary assessment, wearable biometric devices, and advanced machine learning analytics. By combining these elements, they aim to gain a comprehensive understanding of how stress affects HRV, particularly in young populations.

The significance of this research extends beyond the immediate findings. Dr. Knight hopes that the insights gained from this project will serve as a foundation for future NIH and American Heart Association (AHA) applications. The ultimate goal is to incorporate their model into prevention studies that aim to reduce stress-related cardiovascular diseases in young individuals.

In addition, the project’s long-term vision extends to using the developed model in other youth populations. This includes those with obesity, sleep disorders, diabetes, and mental health disorders, broadening the potential impact of the research beyond its initial scope.

Collaborators from the University of Georgia (UGA), including Kyle Johnsen from the College of Engineering, Michael Schmidt from the Department of Kinesiology, and Allan Tate from Epidemiology & Biostatistics, will play vital roles in the project’s success.

The project began on August 1, 2023, and will conclude on July 31, 2024. Dr. Knight’s work, along with her research team, is expected to shed new light on the relationship between stress and cardiovascular health, offering potential solutions for at-risk youth in Georgia and beyond.