University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University to share $10 million NIH grant to study mind-body relationships

November 03, 1999

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 4 -- The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University today announced that they have received a $10 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish a Center for the Study of Mind-Body Interactions and Health.

The focus of the center, one of only five being funded nationwide, is to understand how the mind influences the development of and recovery from diverse diseases, including infectious diseases, osteoarthritis, early cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.

The grant further reinforces the strong ties between the universities that have helped to produce breakthroughs enhancing their reputations as world leaders in scientific and medical research.

"The fact that Pittsburgh will become the home to one of only five such centers to be established nationally is a tribute to its scientific leaders, provides further evidence of the strength of the city's two great research universities, and is a victory for the entire community," said University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. "The selection decision underscores two very significant facts. The first is that this region's international reputation for pioneering medical research continues to grow. The second is that Pitt and Carnegie Mellon have a record of effective partnering that is virtually unique in American higher education. This very large and well-targeted grant gives us a special opportunity to build on that record in ways that should benefit people around the world."

"The new Mind-Body Center is built on the strengths of two outstanding research universities," said Carnegie Mellon President Jared L. Cohon. "Like other research collaborations between Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, it brings together world-class scientists to address the complex problems of our day. This latest collaboration will foster research breakthroughs that will broaden medical knowledge and improve mental and physical health outlooks for people everywhere."

"There is a growing realization that many of the ideas about mind-body relationships are similar across diseases and that knowledge learned about one disease may help us understand another," said Karen A. Matthews, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, epidemiology and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Pitt principal investigator. "This is the first time the NIH has funded centers to study how beliefs, attitudes and emotions affect different diseases and how those can be developed, maintained and changed."

"The center has something in it for everyone - researchers, theorists and patients," added Michael F. Scheier, professor of psychology and co-principal investigator from Carnegie Mellon. "On one hand, it will allow us to test theoretical notions about how the mind and body interact to affect health. It also will allow us to develop interventions that are designed to enhance the quality and duration of life among people suffering from different kinds of chronic illnesses."

The grant recognizes the leading role that researchers at both Pitt and Carnegie Mellon have played in studying mind-body interactions and health. For example, individual studies done at the schools have shown that women with increased anger or hostility have a greater risk for coronary artery disease; people who have a larger support network of friends and relatives get sick less often than those who lead solitary lives; and osteoarthritis has the potential to compromise the health of family members as a result of the patient's negative responses to symptoms and the burden of providing emotional support and task assistance to the patient. The projects to be completed under the auspices of the new center will build upon knowledge obtained through these studies and others. They are: In addition to providing support for research projects, the Mind-Body Center also will offer training for health care professionals and researchers through summer institutes, lectures and small grants to stimulate new research projects. Supporting the work of the center are cores for data management, measurement and statistical resources and biological assessment. The center is funded by the NIH from October 1999 until September 2004.

The other four centers being funded in this unique NIH initiative include the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, Ann Arbor, Mich.; University of Wisconsin Letters and Sciences, Department of Psychology, Madison, Wis.; University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology, Coral Gables, Fla.; and Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Columbus, Ohio.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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