Poor health status and premature death among homeless women is due to a variety of complex and overlapping factors. A current NIDA-funded study led by Dr. Riley considers how combinations of drugs and medications exacerbate cardiac injury and poor health. The objective of the current proposal is to expand the existing research to consider additional physiological pathways of cardiac dysfunction, and augment mentoring activities alongside the research. This comprehensive program will provide an effective training environment for mentees conducting patient-oriented research. At the same time, it will facilitate the development of clinical tools for risk assessment to reduce cardiac dysfunction and poor health among homeless women.
Trained as an epidemiologist, Dr. Riley has co-mentored 17 junior investigators and developed a longstanding multidisciplinary research program focused on HIV, drug use, health status and the use of health services in very low-income populations. She is currently funded by NIDA to conduct a homeless women's health study regarding the influences of HIV and polydrug use on cardiac injury. Here she proposes an expansion of the parent study to include two new biomarker outcomes, which will provide a better understanding of cardiac dysfunction through the consideration of multiple physiological pathways. Within this expanded body of research, Dr. Riley further proposes the concurrent augmentation of her mentoring activities for early career clinicians and trainees. The proposed activities leverage existing infrastructure, data and collaborations provided by Dr. Riley's current program, as well as additional NIH and UCSF resources. Collectively they will provide multiple opportunities for career development, a strong mentoring program for patient-oriented researchers and new projects that focus on understanding co-occurring exposures and health conditions to better inform health care delivery in highly vulnerable populations.