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Houston nursing professor receives $534,000 NIH grant

Dr. Pinky Budhrani-Shani of the TWU Institute of Health Sciences at Houston is celebrating some exciting firsts this November.

Budhrani-Shani, Ph.D, has been awarded a $534,000 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for her proposed study, “Caring for Caregivers with Mind-Body Exercise.” Budhrani-Shani’s study will be the first of its kind to focus on Qigong practice in caregivers, and the grant marks the first time the TWU College of Nursing has been the recipient of NIH funding.

Qigong is a holistic exercise form involving coordinated full-body movements and mindful breathing rooted in Chinese medicine.

Budhrani-Shani will observe 54 cohorts over three years to determine the potential benefits of Qigong as a coping mechanism for caregivers dealing with the emotional and physical stresses of providing patient care. The study will feature a group practicing Qigong in a group setting, a group provided with videos for home practice and a control group.

“Once the subjects complete the program, we’ll be analyzing a battery of outcomes including depression, sleep disturbances, pain and physical function such as grip strength and balance,” Budhrani-Shani said in a TWU press release.

Budhrani-Shani developed the idea for the study during her time working with cancer patients over the past eight years. She observed firsthand the toll that caregiving can take on patients’ loved ones and became interested in supportive methods that would help them manage the pressures of their role.

“Being a caregiver was a full-time job and that can be extremely stressful,” Budhrani-Shani said. “Seeing how much these caregivers gave every day is what made me decide to focus on this unique and often-overlooked population.”

Being the first faculty member in the TWU College of Nursing to receive NIH funding marks a significant milestone for Budhrani-Shani and the department.

“I believe this is setting a pathway for others, including our students, to realize that nurses can compete for big grants,” she said. “We sometimes tend to be overlooked for our capacity.”

Budhrani-Shani credits securing the grant, in part, to the help of her colleagues and hopes to repay them by giving them an opportunity to participate in her work, as she will be hiring graduate and postgraduate students to assist her with the study.

Budhrani-Shani is looking forward to the impact she hopes her work will have on the medical community.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “Hopefully, I can make a difference in caregivers’ lives, and thusin the lives of cancer patients.”


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