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Themes: Symptom Science

Symptom Science: Promoting Personalized Health Strategies

Today, more people are living with long term chronic illnesses, as well as the adverse symptoms that result from them. New advances in genomics and other fields have allowed nurse scientists to better understand the symptoms of chronic illness. This science area focuses on developing personalized strategies to treat and prevent the adverse symptoms of illness across diverse populations and settings.

Science advances from NINR-sponsored symptom science research include:

  • Three clusters of symptoms were identified in children with cancer undergoing chemotherapy: chemotherapy sequela, mood disturbance and neuropsychological discomfort; understanding of these clusters could lead to more effective treatment. View PubMed Abstract
  • Biomarkers of inflammation can help distinguish differences in the timing and severity of pain in breast cancer patients before and after surgery and chemotherapy. View PubMed Abstract
  • Certain molecules that transmit messages between cells, known as cytokines, may predict and cause chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, and could be targets of future treatments. View PubMed Abstract
  • Physical and depressive symptoms have a dose-response relationship with health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients with heart failure, indicating effective interventions in these patients need to target improving both categories of symptoms. View PubMed Abstract
  • Heart failure patients who do not take medications as prescribed and who are depressed are 5 times more likely to experience a cardiac event; clinical interventions should address medication adherence and depressive symptoms. View PubMed Abstract

Selected Funding Opportunities

  • PA-13-117, PA-13-118, and PA-13-119: Mechanisms, Models, Measurement, and Management in Pain Research (R03, R01, and R21). Open May 5, 2013-May 8, 2016 
  • PA-13-165, PA-13-166, and PA-13-167: Innovative Research Methods: Prevention and Management of Symptoms in Chronic Illness (R01, R15, and R21). Open May 5, 2013-May 8, 2016 
  • PA-13-210 and PA-13-2011: Symptom Management in HIV-Infected Individuals with Comorbid chronic conditions (R01 and R21). Open September 16, 2013-September 8, 2016  
  • PA-13-264 and PA-13-365: Synergizing Omic and Symptom Science (R01 and R15). Open July 9, 2013-September 8, 2016  

Please see the NINR Funding Opportunities page for a complete list of NINR co-sponsored funding opportunities.

NINR Contacts

NINR's Extramural Programs contacts in Symptom Science are:

Dr. Martha Matocha
Team Lead

Biology of Symptoms

Dr. Michelle Hamlet
Symptom Recognition/Assesment, Symptom Clusters

Dr. Lois Tully
Genomic Science, Symptom Management


For more information on symptom science, visit the following pages:

Centers of Excellence in Symptom Management/Science

NINR funds the following Centers of Excellence focused on symptom science:

Grant Number

Grant Title





Center for Adaptive Leadership in Symptom Science

Ruth Anderson

Duke University

NINR Center of Excellence: Adaptive Leadership for Cognitive/Affective Symptom Science


Center for the Genomics of Pain

Susan Dorsey

University of Maryland

Center for Pain Studies


Center of Excellence in Biobehavioral Approaches to Symptom Management

Mary Jo Grap

Virginia Commonwealth University

Center of Excellence in Biobehavioral Approaches to Symptom Management


Center for Sleep-Related Symptom Science

Gayle Page

Johns Hopkins University

Center for Sleep-Related Symptom Science


Yale Center for Sleep Disturbance in Acute and Chronic Conditions

Nancy Redeker

Yale University

Yale Center for Sleep Disturbance in Acute and Chronic Conditions


The Center for Cognition and Affect in Chronic Illness

Drenna Waldrop-Valverde

Emory University

Center for Neurocognitive Studies

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