College of Nursing researcher receives NIH grant to study movement-evoked pain

Professional photo of faculty member Staja BookerA University of Florida College of Nursing researcher has received a $370,000 award over three years to study movement-evoked pain in older African Americans with knee osteoarthritis. Assistant Professor Staja “Star” Booker, PhD, RN, is the principal investigator on the grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. The project, which received a perfect impact score of 10, is titled “Investigating Movement-evoked Pain in osteoArthritic Conditions (IMPACT): An Observational Study to Inform Culturally-Tailored Intervention Development.”

The study focuses on elucidating and understanding movement-evoked pain, or MEP, in older African Americans with knee osteoarthritis. MEP is an emerging concept and represents a shift in assessing pain during movement-based activities rather than simply at rest. Goals include identifying biopsychosocial-behavioral factors implicated in MEP and associated physical function, while developing a collaborative intervention with older African Americans to improve knee pain and function/physical activity.

“Through this grant, I hope to achieve a greater understanding of MEP in African American older adults so that we can work toward developing culturally responsive interventions to reduce the burden of pain for this population,” Booker said.

The K23 grant is an NIH Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award to support junior researchers with potential and commitment through structured mentorship.

“This grant is a culmination of what I have hoped to achieve since the first day of my doctoral program,” she said. “I always thought of obtaining NIH funding as an elusive achievement and I never thought I would make it to this stage. I am extremely overwhelmed with excitement to continue my research and that NIH recognized the value of my research.”

The interdisciplinary team that will provide mentorship in achieving the award’s proposed training goals includes senior scientists representing nursing, psychology/pain science, aging and epidemiology/community engagement. Booker’s mentoring team includes Roger Fillingim, PhD, professor and director of the Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence in the UF College of Dentistry; Todd Manini, PhD, associate professor and chief for the Division of Epidemiology and Data Sciences in Gerontology within the Institute on Aging’s Department of Aging and Geriatric Research; Linda Cottler, PhD, MPH, FACE, associate dean for research for the College of Public Health and Health Professions and dean’s professor in the Department of Epidemiology jointly for the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions and College of Medicine; and Angela Starkweather, PhD, RN, ANCP-BC, CNRN, FAAN, associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Connecticut.