Life + Career Osteopathic Research Funded Research Projects

Funded Research Projects

Paying it forward

Grant funding supports osteopathic research in five key areas

Get to know the projects and researchers whose work has earned AOA funding.

During the past three years, the AOA has awarded more than $4 million in grants to fund 42 research projects focused on evaluating the effectiveness of osteopathic medicine in five key areas: osteopathic philosophy, chronic diseases and conditions, OMM/OMT, musculoskeletal injuries and prevention, and pain management.

Learn more about grant opportunities for physicians and fellows, residents and osteopathic medical students. Grant periods range from 6 to 24 months and recipients are strongly encouraged to submit their research for publication in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Meet the 2019 grant recipients and learn about other AOA-funded research projects since the program began in 2016. View detailed bios.


2019 Research Grant Recipients

Jennifer Ashley Belsky, DO, MS

Exploring Osteopathic Medicine as an Effective Adjunctive Therapy for Pediatric Oncology Patients (OMET) | Dr. Belsky is a hematology/oncology/BMT physician fellow at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and a graduate of the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. Her current research focuses on providing better supportive care options for children suffering from chemotherapy side effects. Special funding for this project was provided by the Dale Dodson Educational Fund.

Kyle Burke, OMS-II

Kyle BurkeThe Effect of Facial Effleurage on Complement C3 in Patients with Acute Rhinosinusitis | Student Doctor Burke is a second-year osteopathic medical student at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine–Carolinas Campus, where he is working with Jillian Bradley, PhD, as an osteopathic student researcher on her project “The Effect of Facial Effleurage on Acute Rhinosinusitis.” Special funding for this project was provided by the Dale Dodson Educational Fund.

Blaise M. Costa, PhD

Blaise M. Costa, PhDClearance of Brain Metabolic Waste in a Natural Animal Model of Alzheimer’s Disease by Cranial Osteopathic Manipulation | Dr. Costa is an associate professor of pharmacology at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Virginia. He received a PhD degree in Psychopharmacology from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, India in 2005. In this AOA funded project, Costa and his co-workers will study the molecular mechanism of Cranial Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (COMM) and its potential to serve as an adjunct treatment strategy for Alzheimer’s disease.

Charles Defendorf, DO, PGY-II

Umbilical and Amniotic Fluid Stem Cell Injections for the Management of Chronic Spine Facet Pain | Dr. Defendorf is an Internal Medicine resident physician at Bluefield Regional Medical Center and a graduate of Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. During medical school, he pursued research interests including a double-blinded study to investigate osteopathic pedal pump efficacy for leg edema. Special funding for this project was provided by the Dale Dodson Educational Fund.

Alicia Ford, PhD

Effects of OMT on Biomarkers and Substance Abuse Treatment Outcomes in Patients with Chronic Pain and Opioid Abuse | Dr. Ford is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. Her clinical and research interests include the cognitive effects of medical and psychiatric disorders and cognitive improvement interventions for persons with substance abuse disorders.

Joseph Christopher Gigliotti, PhD

Determining the Effect of Biological Sex and Therapy on Diet-Induced Alterations in Liver and Kidney Health in Mice | Dr. Gigliotti is an Assistant Professor of Physiology at Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He has received recognition for past research projects from several organizations, including the Institute of Food Technologists and National Kidney Foundation. Dr. Gigliotti’s current research is focused on understanding the immunopathology of kidney and liver diseases and how poor diet influences these processes.

Bhuma Krishnamachari, PhD

Bhuma Krishnamachari, PhDPredictors of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in Female Osteopathic Medical Students: A Prospective Cohort Study | Dr. Krishnamachari serves as Assistant Dean of Research and an Associate Professor of Clinical Specialties at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. She recently completed a Health Policy Fellowship with Ohio State University. Special funding for this project was provided by the Dale Dodson Educational Fund.

Alexis Marie LaPietra, DO, FACEP, FAAEM

Alexis LaPietra, DO, FACEP. FAAEMOsteopathic Manipulative Treatment vs. Standard Therapy in the Management of Acute Neck and Low Back Pain in the Emergency Department | Dr. LaPietra is the Medical Director of the Emergency Medicine Pain Management Program and the Fellowship Director of the Emergency Medicine Pain Management Fellowship and Emergency Medicine Mental Health and Addiction Medicine Fellowship at St Joseph’s Health in Paterson, New Jersey. Co-branded award funded in collaboration with The American Osteopathic Foundation.

John C. Licciardone, DO, MS, MBA

John Licciardone, DO, MS, MBAOptimizing Chronic Pain Management through Patient Engagement with Quality of Life Measures: A Randomized Controlled Trial | Dr. Licciardone holds the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation Richards-Cohen Distinguished Chair in Clinical Research at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. He directs the Osteopathic Research Center and its PRECISION Pain Research Registry, which studies precision medicine and biopsychosocial aspects of pain.

Patrick O'Connell, OMS-IV

Role of ERAP1 in Tr1 Cell Biology and Ankylosing Spondylitis | Student Doctor O’Connell is a fourth year DO-PhD student at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is working to uncover mechanisms underlying chronic autoimmune disorders, notably, Ankylosing Spondylitis. These studies will focus on the role of an important anti-inflammatory cell termed Type 1 Regulatory T cells (Tr1 cells), which potentially play an important role in joint inflammation. Special funding received from the AT Still Foundation.

Beverly A. Rzigalinski, PhD

Beverly A. Rzigalinski, PhDBiochemical Effects of Osteopathic Manipulation on Neuronal Function and Survival | Dr. Rzigalinski is a professor of Pharmacology at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. In this current grant, she is working to decipher the biochemical effects of osteopathic manipulation on the neuron, to unravel the cellular mechanisms by which osteopathic manipulation exerts its beneficial effects on the human. Special funding received from the AT Still Foundation.

Harald Martin Stauss, MD, PhD

Harald Stauss, MD, PhDAnti-Inflammatory Actions of OMT – Role of the Cholinergic Anti-Inflammatory Reflex and Translocation of Immune Cells from Reticular Organs to the Systemic Circulation | Dr. Stauss is an Associate Professor of Pharmacology at Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine. In the AOA-funded research project, Dr. Stauss will test the hypothesis that cranial OMT techniques elicit anti-inflammatory actions by increasing parasympathetic activity and thereby activating the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway. Special funding received from the Dale Dodson Educational Fund.


Past Research Grant Recipients

2018 Recipients

The Effects of Lymphatic Pump Treatment on The Immune Response During Acute Pneumonia
Lisa M. Hodge, PhD
University of North Texas Health Science Center/Texas COM

Diabetes and OMM: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Sonia Rivera-Martinez, DO
New York Institute of Technology

Oral Fluid Pain Biomarkers as Objective Measures of OMT Outcomes for Cervicogenic Headache (CGH)
Robert E. Kessler, DO
Touro University–Nevada

Meditation, Alignment with the Osteopathic Philosophy and Empathy in Osteopathic Medical Students: A Randomized Controlled Interventional Trial
Jerry Balentine, DO
New York Institute of Technology

Effects of OMT on Return to Play Post Concussion
Alessandra Posey, DO
Nova Southeastern University

The Effect of Facial Effleurage on Acute Rhinosinusitis
Helena Jillian Bradley, PhD
Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Carolinas Campus

A Novel Lifestyle Intervention Program to Improve Body Composition and Chronic Disease Biomarkers in Overweight Medical Students: A Randomized Trial
Joanne DiFrancisco-Donoghue, MA, PhD
New York Institute of Technology

Prospective, Multicenter, Cohort Study of the Cost Effectiveness of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment for Chronic Low Back Pain
Richard Jermyn, DO
Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine

Effect of Palpatory Neuromodulation of the Trigeminal Nerve for Tenderness in the Posterior Neck Musculature
Malinda (Mindy) Hansen, DO
University of North Texas Health Science Center/Texas COM

The Effect of Facial Effleurage on Acute Rhinosinusitis
Helena Jillian Bradley, PhD
Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Carolinas Campus

The Cardioprotective Benefits of Prolonged Fasting
Katrina Bantis, OMS-II
New York Institute of Technology

Leveling the Playing Field: Evaluating How Prerequisite Classes Affects Perceived Stress Levels in Medical Students
Kathleen Ackert, OMS-II
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Role of LPT in wound healing of colitis
Elexander Atkinson, OMS-I
Edward Via of College of Osteopathic Medicine

Inviting Interdisciplinary Input: An Osteopathic Approach to Leveraging Community Support for Prevention and Management of Chronic Disease in Rural and Appalachian Virginia
Kate Slaymaker, OMS-II
Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Virginia Campus

2017 Recipients

Achieving a High Level of Wellness by Focusing on the Impact of Diabetes Distress in Rural Appalachia
Elizabeth Beverly, PhD
Ohio University Heritage COM

Head Impact Biomechanics, Concussion and Osteopathic Structural Diagnosis, and Treatment
Gunnar Brolinson, DO
Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine

Effects of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment on Gait Biomechanics in Parkinson’s Disease
Hollis King, DO, PhD
​University of California, San Diego, Family Medicine and Public Health

The Osteopathic Approach to Chronic Pain Management: Assessing its Biopsychosocial Processes and Relationships to Clinical Outcomes
John C. Licciardone, DO, MS, MBA
University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine

Osteopathic Philosophy and Patient Experience of Care
Rebecca Malouin, PhD, MPH, MS
Michigan State University

Reducing Inflammation with Osteopathic Treatment (RIOT Study)
Melissa G. Pearce, DO
Touro University–California

Development of a Serum Biomarker-Based Approach to Monitor Opioid Adherence and Minimize Substance Misuse in Chronic Pain Management
Venkat Venkataraman
Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine

The Effect of OMT on Functional Outcomes and Anti-inflammatory Biomarkers in Mild- to Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury
Rebecca Wyatt, DO
Michigan State University

2016 Recipients

The Value of Osteopathic Clinical Care: A Multi-Level Analysis
Mark Ronald Speicher, PhD, MHA
Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine

Identifying Risk Factors Associated with Declining Emotional Quotient (EQ) Traits During DO Training
Gail Singer-Chang, PsyD, MS, MA, PPS
Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific

Patient Experience of Osteopathic Physician Distinctions and Empathy
Walter Hartwig, PhD
Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine California

The Osteopathic Difference in Treating Patients with Low Back Pain
John C. Licciardone, DO, MS, MBA
University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine

Use of Osteopathic Principles for Nonpharmacologic, Therapeutic Interventions in Obese Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Diana L. Speelman, PhD
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Use of the Lymphatic Pump Technique as a Novel Therapy for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Jennifer Berglind, PhD
Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine

Lymphatic Pump Treatment of Inflammation in Rat-Adjuvant-Induced Arthritis
Michael V. Volin, PhD
Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine

Effects of Osteopathic Manipulation on Gait Kinematics and Postural Control in Parkinson Disease
Kendi Hensel, DO, PhD
University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine

Effect of Osteopathic Manipulation on Balance Function, and Biomarkers in Parkinson’s Disease
Sheldon Yao, DO
New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine

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