CWRU & University Hospitals Physician-Researcher Martha Sajatovic, MD Receives International Brain Health Grant, Joins Team in New Diabetes Research Project

Martha Sajatovic, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and of Neurology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Willard Brown Chair in Neurological Outcomes Research and Director of the Neurological and Behavioral Outcomes Research Center at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, is the recent recipient of two major research grants.

As principal investigator (PI), Sajatovic will lead a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fogarty International Center for Health grant in Tanzania with colleagues at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Services to reduce the burden of chronic psychotic disorders using a customized adherence enhancement program combined with injectable, long-acting antipsychotic medication. The combined treatment approach was developed by Sajatovic’s team in Cleveland. Cleveland collaborators include Jennifer Levin, PhD, of UH and CWRU, and Carol Blixen, PhD, RN of CWRU. This grant is funded to CWRU for two years in the amount of $275,000.

Fogarty Center grants are named in memory of Congressman John Fogarty of Rhode Island who believed passionately that opportunities to support research and training on an international basis would improve the health of the American people. Now in its 50th year, Fogarty grants have funded research around the world. A key feature of the program is using U.S. investigators and teams to help build crucial research capacity in low and middle income countries. Most Fogarty research has been focused on infectious diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis.

Sajatovic’s project targets an emerging focus for the Fogarty Center—chronic diseases such as mental disorders, which place a significant burden on people in the developing world. Sajatovic will travel to Tanzania in October 2017 to meet with colleagues on the grant.

The second grant, from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and in collaboration with two principal investigators from the University of Colorado Denver (Bethany Kwan, PhD, and Jeanette Waxmonsky, PhD) is for a diabetes intervention project comparing two evidence-based treatments, patient-driven diabetes Shared Medical Appointments (SMAs) vs. standardized diabetes SMAs. The curriculum to be used is Targeted Training for Illness Management (TTIM), a 12-session modular group intervention developed in Cleveland by Sajatovic and her team.

For the patient-driven SMAs, patients choose the topics and the order of sessions from the TTIM curriculum, which is delivered collaboratively by the multidisciplinary care team consisting of several professional providers (health educator, medical provider and behavioral health provider) and a lay worker (diabetes peer mentor).

The primary patient-centered outcome, selected by patient stakeholders, is diabetes distress. Secondary outcomes include autonomy support, quality of life, and diabetes self-management behaviors, clinical outcomes (hemoglobin A1C, blood pressure, and body mass index), patient reach and engagement, and practice-level value and sustainability.

Sajatovic will serve as a co-investigator to the project which is awarded for four years in the amount of $4.7 million.


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Founded in 1866, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 18 hospitals, more than 40 outpatient health centers and 200 physician offices in 15 counties throughout northern Ohio. The system’s flagship academic medical center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, located on a 35-acre campus in Cleveland’s University Circle, is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The main campus also includes University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. UH is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research programs in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and urology. UH Cleveland Medical Center is perennially among the highest performers in national ranking surveys, including “America’s Best Hospitals” from U.S. News & World Report. UH is also home to Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals – part of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development. UH is one of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio with 27,000 employees. For more information, go to

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