Psychology Professor Awarded $800,000 NIH Grant

Danielle Arigo, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, won a $800,000, five-year National Institute of Health (NIH) K23 Award, which is a career development award for patient-oriented research.
March 27, 2018

University of Scranton psychology professor Danielle Arigo, Ph.D., was awarded a competitive National Institute of Health (NIH) grant for research to identify influences on physical activity that are unique to midlife women. The five-year, $800,000 grant is a K23 Award, which is a career development award for patient-oriented research. She is the first Scranton professor to receive this type of NIH grant. The award supports training and mentored research experiences for junior researchers with promise to develop as independent investigators.

“My research for this grant focuses on reducing midlife women’s risk for cardiovascular disease by using tailored digital health tools to promote physical activity in this population,” said Dr. Arigo. “Midlife women experience unique psychosocial barriers to physical activity. The first aim of the grant is to better understand these barriers, and the second is to use this information to design a mobile health app tailored to address these specific barriers.”

Dr. Arigo, a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialty in health psychology and behavioral medicine, has already published multiple studies on how wearable technology and online social contact affect health and wellness behavior, particularly among women. Her studies generally show that wearable devices provide motivation for exercise and weight loss, and that particular features are beneficial for certain individuals.

The NIH grant, given through the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, will support training at Scranton, Pennsylvania State University and Drexel University. Dr. Arigo’s mentoring team includes University of Scranton professors John Norcross, Ph.D., psychology (career mentor); Terrence Sweeney, Ph.D., biology (scientific adviser); and Yaodong Bi, Ph.D., computer science (scientific adviser); Penn State University professors Joshua Smyth, Ph.D., biobehavioral health and medicine (scientific mentor); and Danielle Symons Downs, Ph.D., kinesiology (scientific collaborator); and Drexel University professor Meghan Butryn, Ph.D., psychology (career collaborator).

The grant began in March and extends for a five-year period.

Dr. Arigo, who joined the faculty at Scranton in 2014 as an assistant professor of psychology, also serves as an associate faculty member of women’s and gender studies. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Drexel University and her master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from Syracuse University. She also completed health-focused training during her clinical internship at the Syracuse VA Medical Center and a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Drexel University.

Dr. Arigo was among just 12 faculty members in the nation to participate in 2015 National Institutes of Health’s esteemed Program to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Cardiovascular Health-Related Research (PRIDE) summer institute, which is a training and mentoring program for junior faculty members. Her participation in this program led directly to the development of her K23 proposal.

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