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Posted: 4/15/2010

Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) assistant professor Sharon L. Kozachik, PhD, RN, Department of Acute and Chronic Care, has been awarded a K01 mentored scientist award from the National Institute of Nursing Research.

The three-year grant provides 75% salary support and research and tuition allowance for Kozachik's research project "Biobehavioral Risk Factors for Pain: Sleep and the HPA Axis." According to Kozachik, this project seeks to determine the effects of chronic sleep loss on neuropathic pain caused by the chemotherapy drug Paclitaxel. The second part of the project seeks to determine whether the stress response system (the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis) is the link that ties together sleep disturbance and pain during a chemotherapy protocol.   Many cancer patients report sleep disturbance during adjuvant therapy, and the neuropathy associated with paclitaxel can be so severe that patients taking the drug report having trouble doing the simplest things, like buttoning a shirt, Kozachik added.

"It's important to understand the effect these drugs have on sleep," Kozachik states.  "We know that pain causes sleep disturbance, and poor sleep at night causes increased pain the next day.  We just don't understand all of the mechanisms involved."

Kozachik's mentors for her project are SON professor Gayle Page, DNSc, RN, FAAN, Department of Acute and Chronic Care, and Dr. Mark Opp, University of Michigan, Departments of Anesthesiology and Molecular & Integrative Physiology.