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College of Health & Human Services:  Research & Sponsored Programs

Highlights from CHHS Faculty Research

Taken from CHHS Impact Magazine 2017

     Grant Funding Awarded for Pregnancy Case Studies


Dr. Rachel Tinius began her career as a new faculty member in the School of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport in August 2015. Since then she has had a tremendous impact on the research environment within the College of Health and Human Services.  The goal of Tinius’ research is focused on improving the health of pregnant women and their babies, both nationally and in South Central Kentucky. Physical activity during pregnancy improves many maternal and infant health outcomes; however, most pregnant women still do not comply with physical activity recommendations.

In April 2016, she received a KRBIN-INBRE Investigator Development Award (IDeA) award to study the impact that physical activity has on the health of pregnant women and their babies. One of Tinius’ research projects will help identify several potential pathways (i.e. metabolic and inflammatory pathways) that can be targeted with future exercise interventions, as well as implement a sustainable intervention designed to increase physical activity levels through education and community resources.

“The support of not only the WKU campus community, but also of our community partners and obstetricians, has been amazing. We have an amazing relationship with Caitlin Burklow- Director of Women and Infant Services-at the Bowling Green Medical Center and her team of nurses and staff. Dr. Joseph Gass, M.D. and his incredible office staff have been instrumental in helping to recruit participants. Dr. Keith Hewitt has also been very helpful. This work wouldn’t be possible without their support. We have been blown away by how genuinely interested and supportive the medical community in Bowling Green has been,” states Dr. Tinius.

This grant funding, and her tireless pursuit of research, has served as the catalyst for several exciting and productive interdepartmental research collaborations spanning a variety of topics, all centered on improving health outcomes of women and their babies in our community. Essentially, a pregnancy research team has been built, consisting of faculty from different disciplines with the Department of Physical Therapy, the School of Nursing, and the School of Kinesiology, Recreation & Sport. Collaborators include Dr. Jill Maples (KRS), Dr. Keri Esslinger (KRS), Dr. Maire Blankenship (SON), Dr. Don Hoover (DPT), Dr. Elizabeth Norris (DPT), and Dr. Karen Furgal (DPT).  This collaborative team of faculty have varied research expertise, which has certainly strengthened the overall research capacity of the group. For example, Dr. Maire Blankenship has a Doctor of Nursing Practice and is a highly skilled clinician with a history working in labor and delivery.  Dr. Jill Maples is a specialist in metabolic research and exercise metabolism. Dr. Keri Esslinger and Dr. Karen Furgal are motor development specialists.

Dr. Maples stated, “I am so proud of what we’ve already accomplished in such a short period of time. We have studied over 100 women in 18 months and this number continues to grow. I am excited to see what the future holds, in terms of our ability to train research students and be involved in a line of research that will directly benefit our community.”


Kentucky Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (KBRIN)-INBRE Investigator Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.  This funding is provided by grant number ‪NIGMS 2 P20 M103436-14.

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 Last Modified 10/8/18