American Indian women experience particularly high mortality and morbidity from cardiovascular disease (CVD). Reducing this burden requires addressing preventable factors in the physical and psychosocial environment that are known to be important for the inflammatory responses involved in CVD. However, there is little evidence about the roles of environmental pollutant exposures and psychosocial factors in shaping immunologic function in American Indian women. This Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development (K23) Award, entitled Inflammatory Markers, Hazardous Air Pollutants, and Psychosocial Factors proposes to address inflammation as a potential biological pathway linking environmental pollutant exposure and psychosocial factors to CVD in American Indian women. The working hypothesis is that American Indian women with positive psychosocial states are less susceptible to the inflammatory effects of environmental pollutants. The study will examine a sample of American Indian women (N = 150) drawn from southeastern North Carolina. A variety of assessment methods will be used, including survey methods, exposure assessment, and serum biomarker.
Three Specific aims are to: 1) examine the association between environmental pollutants and inflammation in American Indian women; 2) examine the association between psychosocial states and inflammation in American Indian women; and 3) determine whether psychosocial states moderate the association between environmental pollutants and inflammation in American Indian women. With a background in nursing and epidemiology I am focusing my research on using community-based approaches to investigate relationships among environmental pollutants, psychosocial states, biological outcomes, and health disparities, particularly among American Indian women. The proposed training activities will include formal didactics and hands-on instruction in measurement and interpretation of environmental data, positive psychosocial states, and serum bioscience methods; community-engagement methods; responsible conduct in research; and attendance at national conferences. I have assembled an interdisciplinary mentoring team of internationally recognized experts who will provide me guidance in building new skills in environmental epidemiological measurement, psychosocial research, and serum biomarker measurement and analysis. The K23 award will move me to independence as a researcher, support my steps in securing funding as an independent investigator, and help me to become a nurse leader in environmental health disparities.
Environmental air pollutants disproportionately impact American Indians. The proposed research seeks to clarify whether psychosocial factors moderate the effects of environmental air pollutant exposure on inflammation in an American Indian population in North Carolina. This research will contribute to understanding the potential for positive psychosocial factors in offering protective health benefits against environmental air pollutants.