Omega-3 Fatty Acid Nutritional Intervention Study

Anisia and fellow students in lab




Associate Professor of Nursing

Project Summary

This summer I conducted research focusing on environmental and community health in Philadelphia under the mentorship of Professor Jianghong Liu in the School of Nursing. I was working in a collaborative work environment with other undergraduate research assistants on two projects.  One of the projects was a longitudinal cohort study exploring the social and biological factors that influence the development of antisocial and violent behavior in young adults.  Of particular interest to us was higher lead levels in low-income or vulnerable neighborhoods, as lead has been showed to negatively affect neurocognitive development.  Professor Jianghong Liu’s lab is currently collecting follow-up data for a study that was first conducted eight years ago.  In order to collect the data I designed questionnaires to determine the current physical and mental health status of subjects who participated in the study, as well as identify and behavioral or sleep disorders.  Following the design portion of the research, we had to reach out and recruit subjects who had previously been a part of the study.  This proved to be extremely challenging, as people’s contact information was out of date and we dedicated time and resources to determine the best method of retention for subjects.  Finally, I was able to actually interact with subjects in our study and administer questionnaires and cognitive exams.  As we continue to collect data we will begin to start analyzing the data to determine any connections between behavioral problems and environmental patterns.  The second project that I worked on with my research team involved the application of many of the same skills as the first study, but this study was in the pilot stage and therefore required more development.  Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown in scientific literature to positively affect neurocognitive development, and potentially reverse antisocial or violent behavior.  In our nutritional intervention study, we attempted to determine whether or not administering omega-3 enriched fruit drinks to mother and children on a daily basis for an extended period of time could potentially be used as a treatment for behavioral and sleep problems, as well as to enhance maternal-child relationships.  For this study as well, we completed the design and recruitment stages but had not completed the data collection and analysis.  This research experience allowed me to gain a more thorough understanding of how environment can affect community health at multiple levels, as well as the concepts and skills involved in designing and carrying out all aspects of a study.