Posted on Jul 14, 2015

USF Nursing receives $2.8 million NIH grant to study breast cancer survivors

USF Nursing receives $2.8 million NIH grant to study breast cancer survivors

An interdisciplinary team led by Dr. Cecile Lengacher will study whether mindfulness-based stress reduction reduces chemotherapy-induced cognitive impairment

Tampa, FL (July 14, 2015) –The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded more than $2.8 million to University of South Florida College of Nursing to study memory and concentration among breast cancer survivors using a meditation-based stress reduction intervention.

Cecile Lengacher, PhD, professor and pre-doctoral fellowship program director at the USF College of Nursing, will lead a team of researchers from USF Health and Moffitt Cancer Center to study the “Efficacy of MBSR treatment of cognitive impairment among breast cancer survivors.” Dr. Lengacher and her team will study 300 breast cancer survivors from Moffitt Cancer Center and the USF Health Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare.

During the five-year study, researchers will evaluate mindfulness-based stress reduction for breast cancer (MBSR (BC)) to determine if the intervention improves objective and subjective cognitive functioning among breast cancer survivors. This non-pharmacological stress reduction program involves group interaction and practice techniques, including sitting and walking meditation, yoga and body scan. Researchers will use a three-group randomized design to test the outcome and will deliver it in English and Spanish. Dr. Lengacher has used MBSR (BC) in a previous study, and preliminary data showed positive results.

Breast cancer survivors will participate in a six-week intervention and will be assessed at baseline, six weeks, 12 weeks and six months. The assessments will include clinical histories, demographics, objective neuropsychological and subjective cognitive tests, symptom measurements and blood samples.

“Breast cancer survivors who have undergone through chemotherapy and radiation often experience a condition called chemo brain, which effects memory and concentration,” Dr. Lengacher said. “Our goal is to test MBSR (BC) in a randomized controlled trial to determine if the intervention is an effective treatment for memory and cognitive functioning. Positive results would increase quality of life for survivors and provide evidence for better, more effective and less costly treatment of this condition.”

According to American Cancer Society (ACS), there are currently about 14.5 million cancer survivors in the United States. More than 25 percent suffer from a “mental fog” or chemo brain. ACS shows that survivors may have cognitive impairment problems six months to 10 years after treatment.

Dr. Lengacher will conduct the study with a team of researchers from USF Health and Moffitt Cancer Center, including Kevin Kip, PhD, distinguished USF Health professor; Carmen Rodriguez, PhD, assistant professor at USF Nursing; Branko Miladinovic, PhD, assistant professor at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, Richard Reich, PhD, associate professor at USF Sarasota-Manatee; Hongdao Meng, PhD, associate professor at the USF School of Aging Studies; Heather Jim, PhD, and Jong Park, PhD, researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center.

“We’re excited to receive this significant grant from NIH to study breast cancer survivors,” said Dianne Morrison-Beedy, PhD, senior associate vice president of USF Health and dean of the College of Nursing. “I’m proud to lead a college that’s transforming health care and transforming lives.”

The study is supported by NCI, part of National Institute of Health (NIH). NCI supports cancer research, training, health, and information dissemination. NCI is part of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers that support and conduct clinical and basic science research on health and illness. For more information about NIH and NCI visit


-USF Health-

USF Health’s mission is to envision and implement the future of health. It is the partnership of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences; and the USF Physician’s Group. The University of South Florida is a global research university ranked 50th in the nation by the National Science Foundation for both federal and total research expenditures among all U.S. universities. For more information, visit


Media Contact:
Vjollca “V” Hysenlika
College of Nursing Communications
(813) 974-2017

Written by Vjollca “V” Hysenlika