George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Training & Practice Grants

Center for Study of Chronic Illness and Disability

Medical Resident Clinical Research Education

Resident Education in Clinical Research

The purpose of the collaborative project is to expose Inova internal medicine residents to the basics of clinical research and teach the skills necessary to enable the residents to complete the scholarly requirements of their residency program. CHHS researchers will:

  • Develop and present instruction at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus on the basics of clinical research.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the clinical research instruction.
  • Consult with Inova Faculty Research mentors in order to facilitate the research projects of the residents.

Ali A. Weinstein, Principal Investigator

Global and Community Health

One Health Curriculum Development

One Health: A Transdisciplinary Approach

One Health is an evolving, interdisciplinary way of approaching complex health issues by recognizing the interconnectedness of human health, animal health and the environment. In the last decade, 75% of all emerging human pathogens were zoonotic (animal to human transmission) in origin, many of which have emerged due to drastic changes in the intersection between humans, animals, and the environment. Solving these complex emerging health problems requires a novel understanding of these relationships, and is a major focus of the One Health model (OHM). The OHM aims to protect all species through collaboration between physicians, veterinarians, public health professionals, environmental scientists, and other members of the natural, social and physical scientific community.

This project will be developed by faculty members coming from multiple colleges and departments, creating a naturally occurring collaborative effort to develop two new courses and a One Health minor. This curriculum impact grant (CIG) will formally join courses focusing on human health, animal health and the environment, under the OHM. This will enrich student experiences by providing them with both a local and global perspective on emerging diseases and the shifting priorities across multiple sectors to prevent and solve new health challenges.

Michael von Fricken, Principal Investigator


BSN Academic-Practice Preceptorship in Community Health

Mason’s BSN Academic-Practice Community Health Preceptorship: Collaborating to Enhance Student Learning

This grant funding allows for the development of a BSN Academic-Practice Community Health preceptorship where Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) student nurses will be paired with preceptors in the community who work in public and primary care health areas to facilitate and encourage transition from student to a graduate nurse who chooses to work with vulnerable populations.

The purpose of this grant is threefold: (1) address workforce diversity training and education needs for undergraduate BSN students while focusing on cultural competence and institutional commitment among all partners within the health workforce; (2) expand on Mason's BSN community curriculum to enhance learning opportunities for students in primary and public health care for vulnerable and underserved populations and, (3) enhance the bidirectional communication of academic and practice partners to better prepare undergraduate BSN students to care for the underserved when they graduate. Through enhanced community practice relationships, academic-practice partnership clinical sites will be developed and Mason’s BSN graduates will be better prepared to care for this population when they graduate.   

​Caroline Sutter, Co-Principal Investigator
Rebecca Sutter, Co-Principal Investigator

Building Community Capacity for Opioid Treatment Support Services

Empowered Communities for a Healthier Nation Initiative

The Empowered Communities for a Healthier Nation Initiative seeks to reduce significant health disparities impacting racial and ethnic minorities and/or disadvantaged populations through implementing evidence-based strategies with the greatest potential for impact. The program is intended to serve residents in communities disproportionately impacted by the opioid epidemic; childhood/adolescent obesity; and serious mental illness.

During incarceration, inmates who are found to be drug dependent undergo medically supervised withdrawal and are stabilized, but once released from the jail, there are limited coordinated rehabilitation and supportive services available in the Greater Prince William Area. Therefore, communities must find innovative ways to build community capacity for drug treatment and drug treatment support services if Virginia is to impact the health outcomes of these vulnerable populations as well as prevent overdose deaths in residents in their potentially most productive years.  

This project focuses on implementing a multi-sector approach for inmates released from jail after serving time for a drug related charge(s). It will also include development of a system of access to health care and coordinated wrap around services for these inmates at the time they are released from the Adult Detention Centers and returning back into the community. The project will initially target the greater Prince William Community and once best practices and lessons learned are realized, the program will be replicated throughout Virginia.   

​Caroline Sutter, Co-Principal Investigator
Rebecca Sutter, Co-Principal Investigator

Substance Abuse Screening, Intervention, and Treatment (SBIRT) - Mason

Mason’s Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Project

This project is a 3-year training grant which aims to train students, faculty, and community partners in this evidence-based approach to the management of substance use. The Mason SBIRT team, comprised of faculty from nursing, psychology, and social work disciplines, facilitates and supports the development of SBIRT competencies in faculty, students, and community partners in the Northern Virginia region through a variety of delivery methods.  Partnership with community professionals is integral to preventing, managing, and treating substance use disorders. This grant fosters interprofessionalism while utilizing a three-pronged approach to SBIRT dissemination that includes curriculum infusion, experiential training, and community engagement. 

Patty Ferssizidis, Principal Investigator

Substance Abuse Screening, Intervention, and Treatment - Virginia (VA-SBIRT)

The Virginia Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (VA-SBIRT) Project

This project will integrate the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) process into the clinical practice and electronic health records of a total of 11 primary care and community health care settings in the northern Virginia and Shenandoah Valley regions to address risky and problematic substance use and depression.  Approximately 100,000 unduplicated patients ages 18 and over from a variety of ethnic and economic backgrounds will be served in 11 practice sites including Federally Qualified Health Centers, free clinics, health departments, student health center, and emergency department settings. Practice sites working with large numbers of minority and uninsured patients in addition to those from student health and sexually transmitted disease specialty populations from both rural and urban regions of Virginia are specifically targeted in both rural and urban regions of Virginia through VA-SBIRT. The project goals are to (1) Increase access to universal screening, secondary prevention, early intervention and treatment for people engaging in substance misuse or abuse by implementing SBIRT in primary care and community health settings through both onsite and technological means. (2) Develop a systematic training model that efficiently and effectively promotes needed clinical skill learning, practice competency and fidelity in SBIRT EBPs to a wide scope of healthcare providers through webinars, courses, onsite coaching/feedback and clinical toolbox resources. (3) Ensure a sustainable VA-SBIRT model within Virginia’s healthcare system. (4) Develop the health information technology infrastructure to facilitate the use of SBIRT and communication among physical healthcare and behavioral health care providers. 

Patty Ferssizidis, Principal Investigator

Nutrition and Food Studies

Childhood Obesity Treatment Program for Latino Communities

Vidas Activas, FamaLias SaludablEs (VALÉ): A Multidisciplinary Childhood Obesity Treatment Program for Latino Communities

Latinos are the fastest growing population in the United States, and this group has emerged as one in need of community health-based outreach efforts. However, programs that provide tailored care for Latinos are limited. VALÉ is a family-based behavioral weight management program for low-income Latino children (aged 6 to 9 years), who are classified as overweight or obese. The objective is to encourage positive behavior change (e.g., improved dietary intake and physical activity) by providing an evidence-based and culturally relevant lifestyle intervention, delivered through a multidisciplinary team of experts and trainees across the fields of nutrition, exercise and psychology.  The project is funded by through a Howard L. Greenhouse Large Grant from the Potomac Health Foundation with the aim to reduce the impact of chronic disease among the Latino population of eastern Prince William County.

Sina Gallo, Principal Investigator

Virginia Food Systems Leadership Institute (VFSLI)

Virginia Food Systems Leadership Institute (VFSLI)

The Virginia Food Systems Leadership Institute (VFSLI) is a collaborative effort involving faculty and dining services personnel at four state universities in Virginia: George Mason, James Madison, University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech. VFSLI is an interdisciplinary summer program that is being developed and delivered by a faculty team representing the four partner universities; student participants will represent the four universities as well. The aim of VFSLI is to foster rising leaders in the area of sustainable food systems by combining pertinent content knowledge in food systems, competency development in leadership, and a means for students to gain practical skills and hands-on experience related to job opportunities and infrastructure improvement in food systems. A VFSLI pilot program is being developed to run in summer 2018 at the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation in Front Royal, Virginia.  VFSLI is a subproject of the Virginia Sustainable Food Coalition (VSFC), established with 4VA support in May 2015 as a collaborative group with the mission to harness the intellectual, human, and economic capital of colleges and universities to foster the emerging local food economy in Virginia.

Andrew Wingfield, Principal Investigator (School of Integrative Studies)
Kerri LaCharite, Co-Investigator (CHHS Department of Nutrition and Food Studies)
Susan Crate, Co-Investigator (Environmental Science and Policy)

Social Work

Child Welfare Stipend Program

Title IV-E Child Welfare Stipend Program (CWSP)

The Title IV-E Child Welfare Stipend Program (CWSP) is a partnership between the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) and four universities within Virginia. This specialized stipend program aims to prepare social work students for a career in child welfare. Each CWSP recipient receives a $10,000 stipend per academic year.  In exchange for the $10,000 stipend and extensive child welfare training, CWSP recipients must commit to work at a Local Department of Social Service agency within the state of Virginia one (1) calendar year for each academic year the stipend was received.

Wolf-Branigin, Michael, Principal Investigator

Katherine Cornejo, Program Coordinator

Community-Engaged Health Research Curriculum Development

Curriculum Impact Grant: Community-Engaged Health Research Program

The Community-Engaged Health Research Program proposed here aims to produce three unique learning experiences: classroom learning, community-engaged research, and a summer fellowship. This program allows students to engage deeply with unique, complex problems related to health, literacy, and culture. This rich learning experience includes university-community partnerships, independent and collaborative mixed-method research opportunities, and skill-building in competencies relevant to the workplace, all key experiences that align with the Mason Impact objectives.

The Community-Engaged Health Research Program offers a new approach for preparing students with the theories, practices, methods, and communication skills necessary to address health problems. This program combines experiential learning with onsite community partners, mentorship with faculty members, and classroom learning experiences, preparing students to be future participants in and leaders of dynamic solutions in their careers. Mason is uniquely situated to provide students with marketable skills to work in collaboration with community stakeholders and address significant community needs for the public good. Although Mason students have many opportunities for community service, the need for future professionals to be able to contribute to community-engaged research is growing rapidly.  This Program consists of three new courses, one that focuses on theories of community-engaged health research, one that engages practical implications of solving complex problems, and a final fellowship during which students complete an original research project.

This Program is also multidisciplinary, including faculty from Social Work, Global and Community Health, Infectious Disease, and English. This team will work to produce learning experiences that:

  • Engage a wide range of research methods from across the disciplines
  • Address and explore unique questions about culture, ethics, and research conduct raised by interactions with community partners
  • Develop student skills in communication, specifically grant proposal writing, that are essential to the work of researchers and health agencies

The goals of the Community-Engaged Health Research Program are:

  • To explore community needs and discover actionable, inventive solutions, producing students who are Engaged Citizens, equipped with tools to help address problems in the world.
  • To educate students on methods, theories, and practices for partnership, action research, and participant engagement, offering future Well-rounded Scholars a multidisciplinary educational experience.
  • To train students in workplace competencies such as grant proposal writing, communication, and partnership development, making students Prepared to Act moving forward.

Emily Ihara, Co-Investigator
Cathy Tompkins, Co-Investigator
Rebecca Vargas-Jackson, Co-Investigator
Ali Weinstein, Co-Investigator
Heidi Lawrence, Co-Investigator, Assistant Professor of English

Dementia Research and Care Workshops

Geriatrics Work Enhancement Program

Faculty from the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) at George Mason University lead the development and implementation of community-based workshops that disseminate information from experts in dementia research and dementia care.  The workshops take place each year for a total of three years (2-3 workshops per year).  Workshp topics may include the genetics of cognitive aging, behavioral based interventions for individuals at the moderate to late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the unique needs of medically underserved and special populations including racial and ethnic minorities and individuals with intellectual disabilities, how to work with patients with the disease, and their formal and informal caregivers and caregiver burden and depression.  Faculty from CHHS partner with staff from AARP – VA, Insight Memory Care Center, the Area Agency on Aging and others.

Objectives include:

  • Disseminate evidenced-based research from George Mason University faculty working on issues related to dementia.
  • Align with experts in the community to provide dementia related resources and programs to the most vulnerable and hard-to reach populations.

Cathy Tompkins, Principal Investigator

Knowledge and Skills for an Aging Society Curriculum Development

Curriculum Impact Grant: The Collaborative for Promoting and Enhancing Knowledge and Skills for an Aging Society

Abstract: Currently more than 46 million Americans are age 65 and older and more than 6 million are over 85 (about 617 million individuals 65+ across the world).  People are living longer, making it likely that career choices will involve older adult interaction or analysis of older adult issues.   Faculty from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Health and Human Services are working together to develop The Collaborative for Promoting and Enhancing Knowledge and Skills for an Aging Society -  providing curricular and co-curricular experiences that prepare Mason graduates to work within a diverse, aging world.  

Project Goals Overview:  The Mason Graduate is prepared to act – equipped to make positive and meaningful changes in society.  Thus, it is imperative that as faculty, we prepare students to be engaged, well-rounded scholars who are ready to help meet the objectives of the agencies and organizations within our local, national and international communities. Many employees within the workforce (for example the health-care workforce) have rarely taken a specific course in gerontology or received the specific skills necessary to critically assess social problems, programs or policies related to older adults and their families. Students are not learning the basic bio-psycho-social approach that needs to be taken when working with culturally diverse, older populations.  Mason students currently can take courses related to aging and declare a minor or concentration, though a small percentage of students take advantage of this opportunity. There are myths and fallacies about older adults that often prevent students from studying gerontology.  Students may not understand how direct services and macro interventions can make a difference in the lives of older adults and their families.  Course objectives in gerontology classes need to align to meet national gerontology competencies.  By implementing focus groups with students, faculty and agency staff providing services to older adults and their families, there will be more synergy between the interest and the need around services and programs for older adults and their families. Curriculum will be revised, an advisory council will be formed and co-curricular activities will be developed to ensure that Mason graduates are well prepared to live and work within an aging society.

Cathy Tompkins, Co-Investigator
Kelly Dunne, Co-Investigator, Executive Director, School of Integrative Studies 

Music and Memory Intervention Web-Based Training Program

A Web-Based Training Program for Direct Care Workers in Long-Term Care Communities: Providing Knowledge and Skills to Implement a Music and Memory Intervention

The purpose of this project is to develop and implement a person-centered, web-based training program for direct care workers including certified nursing assistants, personal care assistants, and activity staff working in long-term care communities. This training program addresses the challenges of training direct care workers by using microlearning techniques for a web-based training. The training is expected to increase staff knowledge about behaviors associated with dementia and to provide the skills to implement a non-pharmacological, person-centered, music and memory intervention. Direct care workers in long-term care facilities who are providing daily support with bathing, dressing, feeding, toileting, transferring, and basic movement and exercise activities will directly benefit from this training. It is an opportunity for direct care staff to learn, first-hand, how personalized music can affect challenging behaviors associated with dementia, creating an interest in the intervention prior to its implementation.

Cathy Tompkins, Principal Investigator
Emily Ihara, Co-Investigator
Megumi Inoue, Co-Investigator

Schools & Programs