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2018 Seed Grant Award Winners Announced

Five academic researchers awarded seed grants by the Gary and Mary West Foundation to advance palliative care research

$50,000 in research funding announced last week by CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care

Oct. 22, 2018 (SAN DIEGO) – Five palliative care researchers from universities across the country have been awarded a total of $50,000 in seed grants for projects aimed at improving care for seniors experiencing serious or life-limiting illness, or strengthening support for family caregivers.

The grants, funded by the Gary and Mary West Foundation, were awarded at the California State University Shiley Institute for Palliative Care’s two-day 2018 National Symposium for Academic Palliative Care Education and Research, held Oct. 11-12 in San Diego.

Seed Grant Award Winners:

  • Nidhi Mahendra, PhD, CCC-SLP, Associate Professor, Communicative Disorders & Sciences, Spartan Aphasia Research Clinic, San Jose State University — $10,000 for her project, “Investigating Communicative Access in Advance Directive Planning for Persons with Aphasia.”
  • Kim Martz, PhD, RN, School of Nursing, Boise State University — $10,000 for her project, “Examining the Impact of Palliative Care Referrals and Concordance of Care for Discharged ICU Patients.”
  • Cara L. Wallace, PhD, LMSW, School of Social Work, St. Louis University — $10,000 for her project, “Narrative Medicine and Advance Care Planning.” Co-applicants, also from St. Louis University: April Trees, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Communications; Jennifer Ohs, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Communications; and Leslie Hinyard, PhD, MSW, Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Center for Health Outcomes Research.
  • Kristyn Pellecchia, PMHNP, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California Riverside — $10,000 for her project, “Developing a Humanities-Based Death and Dying Course to Address Death Anxiety in Medical Students.” Co-applicant: Juliet McMullin, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of California Riverside.
  • Hyunjin Noh, MSW, PhD, School of Social Work, the University of Alabama — $9,962 for her project, “Palliative Care Knowledge, Attitudes and Needs Among Caregivers of Cognitively Impaired Older Adults.”

“We are pleased to support academic research efforts designed to expand current or future workforce knowledge in palliative care and caregiving,” said Brenda Schmitthenner, program officer at the Gary and Mary West Foundation. “This year’s seed grant funding helps fuel innovation, research and education in palliative care with the goal of improving care and enhancing quality of life for seniors as well as family caregivers – a key part of our Foundation’s work to enable successful aging.”

The five selected grant awardees will carry out their research projects over the next year and present their findings at the 2019 National Symposium, Oct. 11-12, 2019, at Sheraton Harbor Place hotel in San Diego.

For more information, visit or call 760-750-4006.

About the California State University Shiley Institute for Palliative Care

The CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care is focused on increasing access to palliative care by educating current and future health professionals to better serve a growing number of people with serious or life-limiting illness. Visit or call 760-758-4006.

About the Gary and Mary West Foundation

Inspired by its founders and sole funders, Gary and Mary West, the Gary and Mary West Foundation is dedicated to lowering healthcare costs and increasing access to high-quality, affordable models of care that enable seniors to successfully age in place. As part of the West Health family of nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations based in San Diego and Washington D.C., the Foundation works with its Institute and Policy Center using philanthropy, applied medical research, policy and advocacy to transform healthcare across America. Learn more at and follow @westhealth.

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