Interventions for Health-promotion in Oncology and Obesity in Pediatrics (I-HOPE)

Research Activity

Student Research Posters

Students in the I-Hope lab are made up of undergraduates, post-Bacs, masters’ and doctoral students and Moffitt Cancer Center T-32 and USF postdoctoral fellows.

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The I-HOPE research lab, led by Dr. Marilyn Stern, maintains an overarching focus on addressing pediatric psychosocial oncology, rural Latino health and obesity and has several ongoing funded projects, including several from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We are excited to offer students the opportunity to engage in critically important research which seeks to promote resilience and overall good health among the pediatric as well as adolescent and young adult populations. We run a bilingual lab as much of our work entails providing interventions in both English and in Spanish.

Current Research


ADAPT+: Optimizing an Intervention to Promote Healthy Behaviors in Rural, Latino Youth with Obesity and their Parents, using Mindfulness Strategies (R34AT010661-01, Stern and Redwine, MPI) aims to refine and test the acceptability and feasibility of a culturally competent, evidence-based, community-centered obesity intervention to address obesity in Latino youth living in rural communities.

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ADAPT+ project focuses on Latino families living in rural communities with a child between[MS1]  8-12 years old who is overweight or obese (BMI over 85%). The purpose of this study is to optimize an obesity intervention with rural underserved Latino children and their parents that combines a standard family-based behavioral approach, the “gold standard” for pediatric obesity treatment, with a mindfulness approach focusing on stress reduction. Long work hours, common among migrant worker families, can reduce parent involvement, including uninvolved feeding style, which can increase risk of obesity in youths. Specifically, parent stress is associated with decreased physical activity, overeating and higher body weight in both children and parents. With our program, we aim to integrate mindfulness stress reduction strategies to increase healthy lifestyle behaviors consistent with the needs of Latinos living in rural communities. To implement this project, we partnered with Hispanic Services Council and trained community health workers to implement the intervention sessions with parents.

ADAPT Project Mindfulness Videos (en enpanol)


NOURISH-T+: A Randomized Control Trial Targeting Parents Promoting Healthy Eating and Exercise Behaviors in Pediatric Cancer Survivors with Overweight/Obesity (R01CA240319-01A1, Stern, PI) is a multisite randomized clinical control trial targeting parents of pediatric cancer survivors to support the development and maintenance of healthy lifestyle behaviors and mitigate the late effects associated with obesity.

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Pediatric/adolescents and young adult patients treated for cancer are at higher risk than the general population for obesity, diminished exercise capacity, hypertension and metabolic syndrome features related to cardiovascular disease. Rates of overweight and obesity for pediatric survivors have been found to be high five years after cancer treatment (from 40 to 50%). In line with recent calls emphasizing the importance of promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors in youth treated for cancer, we focus on key eating and exercise behaviors that can be targeted through parent education efforts to foster better overall health among youth with cancer transitioning off active treatment to survivorship. Our prior work supported by funding from the NCI found that our NOURISH-T intervention was both acceptable, feasible and showed preliminary efficacy. In NOURISH-T+ (NOURISH for Healthy Transitions) we now test the efficacy of this intervention in both English and Spanish across four diverse pediatric oncology clinics in a multi-site randomized control trial (RCT). Flandra Ismajli serves as project coordinator.

Hispanic Services Council

Social, Ethical, and Behavioral Implications (SEBI) Research on COVID-19 Testing among Rural Latino Migrants in Southwest Florida. (3R34AT010661-02S1, Redwine and Stern, MPI) aims to assess COVID-19 testing and vaccine uptake attitudes and behaviors among rural Latino migrants in Southwest Florida.

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Latinos in Florida account for over 30% of all COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Most Latinos live in rural areas, work as migrant farmworkers, and have higher rates of underlying medical conditions, limited access to health care, and live in circumstances that interfere with implementation of community mitigation measures, all potentially leading to increased risk of COVID-19 exposure, morbidity, and mortality. Our community partner, the Hispanic Services Council (HSC) trains local promotoras de salud (community health workers), and in the past two years has reached 5,900 underserved Latino immigrant families in SW Florida. Recently, HSC promotoras reached over 300 Latino families to ask about the impact of COVID-19 on their health and wellbeing. We build on our ongoing partnership (R34At010661-01) with HSC and the promotoras to collect data using mixed methods to assess healthcare, social, economic, and contextual factors that influence the ability and willingness to get tested for COVID-19 and/or vaccinated. Our findings will guide products, including community education and population-specific marketing strategies, to improve testing and vaccination uptake. In partnering with and sharing information with other NOSI recipients we hope to increase testing for COVID-19 across diverse communities in the USA and to inform targeted implementation of COVID-19 vaccines.

Pediatric Oncology and Obesity

Dr. Stern is also involved in several other ongoing grant projects, all related to pediatric oncology and obesity, including several supported by the AYA committee, Moffitt Cancer Center.

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  • Mindfulness in AYA patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: A Pilot Project.
  • The PAWN-Q Study: An exploratory analysis of perceived needs regarding Physical activity, Appearance, Weight, Nutrition, and Quality of life in adolescent and young adult cancer survivors. (Dr. Sylvia Crowder, PI)
  • Health Literacy, Home Environmental Influence and Ethnicity and its Association to Adherence to Nutrition and Physical Exercise Guidelines in Adolescents and Young Adults Cancer Patients and Survivors: An Exploratory Study. (Sandra Soca Lozano, PI)
  • An Exploratory Study of Perceived Stress and Reported Health Behaviors in Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivors  (Dr. Acadia Buro, PI)

Post-Doctoral Research

Nashira Brown

Physical activity and exercise among high-risk and vulnerable populations

Risana Chowdhury, PhD

Biological markers, inflammation, evolution and human health, social determinants of health, stress and resilience, neurodegenerative diseases, DNA methylation as a biological response to the environment 

Graduate Student Research

Sandra Soca Lozano, doctoral student in School Psychology Master’s Thesis

Pediatric Psychology, Pediatric Health, Behavioral Health, Cancer Treatment and Survivorship, Obesity, Healthy Lifestyles, Health Disparities, Social Determinants of Health, Psychological Wellbeing

Rachel Sauls, BA, BS

Quality of Life (QOL) in the Digital Age: How Tele-health appointments impact QOL in Adolescent and Young Adult Patients and Providers

Hannah Schlichte, Master’s Thesis

Intersections of Race/Ethnicity and Sexual orientation and mental health among college students

Our multi-site research collaborators include:

Honors and Awards

Nashira Brown, PhD

Nashira Brown, PhD awarded Karen Calfas Physical Activity Student Research Excellence Award at the 44th Society of Behavioral Medicine's Annual Meeting.

Marilyn Stern, PhD

Honored as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), recognizing her contributions to the field of psychology, particularly for the development of parent-involved interventions.

Sandra Soca Lozano, MS

International Collaboration Award: Facilitates members of Society of Pediatric Psychology (SPP) to visit an international research or clinical program for a minimum of one week and up to one month. With this award Sandra will stay for a month in Australia initiating the collaboration of our lab with the Behavioral Science Unit at Sydney Children’s hospital and their REBOOT project with pediatric cancer survivors.

Diversity supplement grant: A mixed methods approach to evaluating the Role of individual differences: Impact on fruit and vegetable intake outcomes in NOURISH-T+ parents of pediatric cancer survivors.

Nashira Brown, PhD

Karen Calfas Physical Activity Student Research Excellence Award