Macarius Donneyong and Olivia Okereke awarded AFSP grant to develop new tools to improve suicide risk prevention among racial/ethnic sub-groups

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July 7, 2022

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Despite the progress made in understanding and preventing the risk of suicide, it is currently the 12th leading cause of overall mortality in the U.S. And it is worse for mid-life and older adults from more diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Resolving the major gaps that still exist in understanding the risks and preventative measures requires more research, which is what an interprofessional research team, co-led by Macarius Donneyong, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of outcomes and translational sciences at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, aims to do.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) awarded its Innovative Research Grant to Dr. Donneyong (Linked PI) and contact-PI Olivia Okereke, MD, MS, a board-certified geriatric psychiatrist and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and associate professor of epidemiology the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, to study preventative strategies among mid-life and older adults.

The AFSP Innovative Research Grant is awarded to investigators at any level performing research involving two or more unique sites with each site contributing unique expertise, as well as data collection. Dr. Donneyong and his colleagues will use the $449,335 provided by the grant (LSRG-1-099-21) to determine the role of racial/ethnic disparities on suicide risk and develop a machine learning-based risk prediction model for suicide events that is applicable to racially and ethnically diverse groups.

The study, titled, “Cohort survey-CMS data linkage for multi-level modeling and novel risk prediction of suicide in diverse older adults,” will begin Oct. 1 and span two years. Other contributors to the research include David Mischoulon, MD, PhD, psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; Bo Lu, PhD, professor of biostatistics at the Ohio State College of Public Health; and Xia Ning, PhD, associate professor of biomedical informatics at the College of Medicine.

“I believe that our success was enabled by the strong interdisciplinary team that we had put together,” Dr. Donneyong said. “As co-PIs, Dr. Okereke’s expertise in psychiatry and mine in pharmacoepidemiology and data analytics complemented each other perfectly for this grant mechanism. We also had complementary expertise in biostatistics and machine learning brought in by my local collaborators in the persons of Dr. Lu and Dr. Ning, respectively.”