Health – UConn Today
Practicing nurses, nurse-scientists, and students are engaged in research on everything from emergency rooms to house calls. An event at the School of Nursing this spring gave a taste of the specialized work the school does in uniting clinical nursing practice with lab research and teaching.
The event included faculty, students, and staff, as well as community partners who collaborate with UConn nurses. They shared observations both humorous, as when nurse scientist Deborah MacDonald admitted that encouraging old women to reminisce about exercise did not seem to improve their quality of life, and poignant, as when a patient’s enthusiastic response to a survey reminded the researchers that even elderly veterans with mental health difficulties still wish to be useful.
Here’s a sampling of the projects that were presented:
Men and women have different bugs in their guts, it’s a pain, and Xiaomei Cong wants to know why.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects more than 20 percent of the world’s population, and costs $21 billion per year. The symptoms of IBS include pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation, and Cong and her colleagues in the School of Nursing wondered if a person’s genetics and the type of bacteria in the gut might have something to do with it.
Cong and a team of researchers and nursing students interviewed 76 young adults with irritable bowel syndrome about their pain, sequenced their DNA, and sampled their digestive tract bacteria. They found that women tended to have more diverse bacterial ecologies; men tended to have more Clostridia bacteria (a family of bacteria with a bent toward causing nasty diseases); and certain versions of pain genes seemed to influence the diversity of a person’s gut bacteria.
In case you’re wondering how the researchers found out what bacteria lived in each person’s digestive system, “We taught people how to collect stool samples,” …