Joel Boerckel Win Indiana CTSI Awards

Notre Dame faculty from Psychology and Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering have been awarded grants from the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI).

Julie Braungart-Rieker, Professor of Psychology in the College of Arts and Letters and Director of the William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families, was awarded a Community Health Engagement Program (CHEP) Community Based Research Pilot Award for a study entitled “Reducing Obesogenic Home Environments in Low-Income Households with Mothers of Pre-school-Aged Children.” Elizabeth Moore, Associate Professor of Marketing in the Mendoza College of Business, and Jennifer Burke LeFever, Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Psychology, are co-primary investigators on the grant as well.

Julie Braungart-Rieker, Professor of Psychology in the College of Arts and Letters and Director of the William J

Obesity rates in the U.S. for both children and adults are alarmingly high, particularly for those in low-income households. Speaking about the project, Braungart-Rieker said, “The goal of this project is to focus on changing issues that tend to cause obesity in low-income homes, such as portion size, how healthy food is presented, or if the television is on during mealtimes. Evidence has shown that, for adults, making seemingly small differences in portions, ingredients, presentation, and distractions can impact food consumption. However, thus far, there have been no studies that have examined the possible benefits for children and families who do the same. Our study aims to show that with our intervention, entitled ‘Undercover Mother,’ making small changes to the home environment in relation to food consumption is a feasible, positive, and effective experience.”

This grant is in collaboration the Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties Head Start Consortium.

Joel Boerckel, Assistant Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, was awarded a Collaboration in Translational Research (CTR) grant for a study entitled “Mechanical Regulation of Neovascularization.” The project is a collaboration with Dr. Mervin Yoder at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Dr. Sherry Voytik-Harbin at Purdue University.

Joel Boerckel, Assistant Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

It is known that the formation of new blood vessels is critical for wound healing, recovery from cardiovascular disease, and tissue regeneration. While this process is controlled by the mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix, it can be hijacked by tumors, which can result in blood vessels helping to feed the cancer. Speaking about the research, Boerckel said, “How blood vessel cells sense and respond to these mechanical cues remains poorly understood. This project aims to study the molecular mechanisms that enable blood vessel-forming cells to respond to mechanical stimuli, such as extracellular matrix stiffness. This research will enable development of new tissue engineering strategies and anti-cancer drugs.”

The Indiana CTSI is a statewide collaboration between Indiana University, Purdue University, and the University of Notre Dame, as well as public and private partnerships, whose mission is to strengthen and support the entire spectrum of translational research from scientific discovery to improved patient care. The Indiana CTSI provides funding opportunities for researchers and currently proposals for Global Health Research Pilot Projects and PDT Diagnostics and Therapeutics are open for applications.

For more information on the Indiana CTSI, including funding opportunities, please visit

Originally published by Joanne Fahey at on November 02, 2015.