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Federal grants awarded to DePaul psychology professor Leonard A. Jason

Tuesday 28 January 2014


From DePaul University's newspaper The DePaulia:


Leonard A. Jason
Leonard A. Jason
(Photo courtesy of DePaul University)

Federal grants awarded to DePaul psychology professor Leonard A. Jason

By Aziza Khamitova
Published: Sunday, January 26, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 16:01

Last month, Leonard A. Jason, a DePaul psychology professor, received a $2 million grant for a five-year study that focuses on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) among children.

CFS is a disorder that entails extreme fatigue; the cause of CFS is unknown. “Energy is very important,” Dr. Jason said. “It’s a dominant endurance and if you don’t have it, you are in big trouble because there are very high expectations for people to achieve and to get a lot of stuff done.”

Jason has studied CFS for the past 25 years. In 1989, he became very ill and even left the university for a year. He was diagnosed with mononucleosis, and later he was diagnosed with CFS.

“Because I had a personal experience with this illness, I decided to look at the literature and what I found indicated that there were a lot of things that were problematic that I could study,” Jason said.

According to Jason, there have never been methodologically sound and community-based prevalence studies of youth. The study is aiming to analyze over 20,000 households who have children.

Jason said after identifying at-risk children, they will bring them to the Lurie Children’s Hospital to get a complete medical and psychiatric evaluation.

Jason also received a $3 million grant to study mono as a possible risk factor among college students. Based on this study, Jason and his team will interview college students: taking students’ blood samples, making profiles of them, and trying to find the risk factors.

“Our study will look at risk factors for developing CFS, and it is a prospective longitudinal study of college students over time,” Jason said. “This will nicely complement our community based prevalence study of youth ages five-seventeen.”

Jason is convinced that the study will shed light on this little known disease among children. “So, we are really going to be pioneering on these two very large studies and both of them are multimillion dollar studies,” Jason said.

These are some of the largest grants that DePaul has received in terms of funding from the federal government and Jason admits that applying for these grants was a challenging experience.

The team of researchers will consist of 26 people: Jason, Ben Katz from Lurie Children’s Memorial Hospital, two project directors, five research assistants, two DePaul graduate students, and 15 undergraduate volunteers.

Abby Brown, a fourth year DePaul PhD student at Clinical Community Psychology, said being a part of this team is exciting and beneficial. Brown will interview children and conduct psychological screenings.

“This is obviously a large-scale study,” Brown said. “It gets DePaul’s name out there with a very prestigious funding source and study.”

Brown has high expectations for this study. She is convinced that this research will make a significant contribution to the literature of pediatric chronic fatigue syndrome, and it will have some prevalent numbers on the conditioning children.

“When we raise awareness and reduce stigma around those sort of things, it benefits our students, staff or faculty who are living with chronic illness,” said Brown.

Anna Theofanous, a DePaul senior student majoring in psychology, volunteered to assist in this study.

“Chronic fatigue syndrome specifically really spoke to me because this disease is something not many people know about,” she said. “This really stigmatized, so we are able to help lot of individuals.”

Currently Theofanous learns about CFS and research in general, makes timelines for individuals, works with Excel data, and presents during meetings. Theofanous said she hopes people with CFS will get more attention and that the study will change their lives.

Jason is convinced that these grants will also benefit DePaul significantly. “My affiliation with DePaul University gets the name out to people around the world,” he said.


The above originally appeared here.



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