Falk College strives to achieve excellence in education not only through good teaching but also through participation in active research. Our students benefit by learning from researchers who are working at the cutting-edge of knowledge, within well-equipped laboratories, and in projects that are both domestic and abroad. We encourage both undergraduates and graduate engagement to achieve not only a rewarding educational experience but also enhanced career opportunities upon graduation. Learn more about the different types of research awards.
2021-2022 SU CUSE Grant
A Comprehensive Assessment of Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Resettled Refugees
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is disproportionately higher among low socioeconomic status communities. It is significantly associated with adverse psychosocial factors, rendering it a particularly salient health outcome in refugees who have been exposed to stressful and life-threatening events pre-resettlement and may experience barriers to assimilating to an unfamiliar host country post resettlement. Currently there is limited information about CVD risk among refugees as they settle in the United States. The objectives of the proposed project are therefore to thoroughly assess CVD risk in refugees resettled in Syracuse, New York, who are active patients of the ambulatory adult clinic at SUNY Medical Center.Learn more about this research.
2021-2022 SU CUSE Grant
Objectively Determined Sleep Estimates of the US Population
This project will utilize the wrist-worn accelerometer data from 2 cycles (2011-12, 2013-14) of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) that was recently released (Feb 2021). We have 3 main objects: (1) Refine an automated algorithm to process NHANES data to obtain sleep estimates as well as more granular information like sleep efficiency, wake after sleep, and other sleep variables to determine sleep architecture; (2)Complete exploratory analysis investigating the relationship between sleep measures to several behaviors and health outcomes, and; (3) Use results from exploratory analysis to apply for NIH funding.Learn more about this research.
2020-2021 SU CUSE Grant
Race/Ethnic Variation in Vascular Aging Trajectories and Mortality Risk: Insight from the Health and Retirement Study
Disparities in overall life expectancy in the U.S. prevail with non-Hispanic Black individuals living four to five years less than non-Hispanic White and Hispanic individuals. Racial differences in life expectancy may be driven by cardiovascular disease (CVD). Arterial stiffness is an independent predictor of and antecedent to CVD.Learn more about this research.
Heart and Vascular Responses Across the Lifespan in Ts65Dn Mice, a Model of Down Syndrome
Down syndrome (Ds) is a developmental disability that results from triplication of chromosome 21. Persons with Ds are confronted with a variety of daily challenges including heart defects at birth and lower blood pressure and heart rate at rest and during times of activity. This work aims to uncover contributors of the cardiovascular phenotype observed in Ds by using the Ts65Dn mouse, a model of Ds. The team includes Lara DeRuisseau, research professor in the Department of Exercise Science at Falk College as PI, and Kevin Heffernan, associate professor in the Department of Exercise Science at Falk College and Melissa Bates, assistant professor in the Department of Health and Human Physiology at the University of Iowa as co-Is.Learn more about this research.
2020-2021 Fellowship or Honor
Estimating Cardiovascular Age in the Community: We are Only as Old as Our Arteries
The current COVID-19 pandemic has shined a bright light on the racial divide in health in the U.S. with African Americans bearing a disproportionate burden of coronavirus-related morbidity and mortality. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors are emerging as prominent risk factors for coronavirus and its related sequela. African Americans have higher CVD risk factor burden and as such are experiencing higher mortality rates from coronavirus. Moreover, the coronavirus may cause acute cardiac damage even in those without a history of CVD. Whether this acute damage has chronic effects on cardiovascular health in survivors of coronavirus remains unknown.Learn more about this research.
Heffernan takes over leadership of NSF Research Education for Undergraduates (REU) Program for Trauma Research with Veterans
Kevin Heffernan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Exercise Science, will take over leadership of the REU program started by Brooks B. Gump, Ph.D., MPH, Falk Endowed Professor of Public Health, in 2012. This program is for undergraduate veterans and non-veterans (five openings for each) interested in becoming trauma researchers. As one of many on-going interdisciplinary collaborations in the Falk College, the REU program also includes faculty members from the Aging Studies Institute and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The grant awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will support the REU program and is now recruiting undergraduate veterans and non-veterans to participate. Students can earn $3,000 for participating in an intensive four-week summer program each June at Syracuse University.Learn more about this research.
2019-2020 SU CUSE Grant
Environmental Exposures and Child Health Outcomes 2 (EECHO2)
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death in the United States and disables 10 million Americans each year, and literature demonstrates an association between metals (e.g., lead) and CVD risk. Supported by our most recent R01, we finished recruitment of 297 children in a study being named the “Environmental Exposures and Child Health Outcomes” (EECHO) study. EECHO considered the cross-sectional association between Pb exposure and cardiovascular outcomes in 9-11-year-old children.Learn more about this research.
Racial Differences in Arterial Stiffness and Cerebral Function
Falk Family Endowed Professor of Public Health, Brooks Gump is a co-investigator working with primary investigator, Kevin Heffernan and co-investigator Tiago Barreira from the Falk College department of Exercise Science on the project Racial Differences in Arterial Stiffness and Cerebral Function funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities/NIH/DHHS for $154,000. There are well documented racial differences in cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, including hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes. These CVD risks are associated with underlying racial differences in systemic vascular functioning that may manifest as subclinical changes early in life. Recent evidence suggests that these vascular changes may have detrimental effects on the brain. The study will consider racial differences in vascular functioning and associated brain blood flow and cognitive functioning.Learn more about this research.