New NIH Research Study to Investigate Psychosocial Determinants of Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Urban African-American Adults – Research and Discovery

Samuele Zilioli, Ph.D., assistant professor at Wayne State University, recently received a $3.59 million grant from the NIH for the study “Stress and Cardiovascular Risk Among Urban African American adults: A Multilevel, Mixed Methods Approach”.

DETROIT – The Biopsychosocial Health Laboratory from Wayne State University received $3,590,488 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to carry out a project entitled “Stress and Cardiovascular Risk Among Urban African American adults: A Multilevel, Mixed Methods Approach”.

The project, led by Samuele Zilioli, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at Wayne State University, aims to provide a fine-grained characterization of the psychosocial factors associated with disorders cardiovascular. risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation in middle-aged and older urban African American adults.

According to Zilioli, despite the steady decline in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in the United States over the past few decades, African American adults bear a disproportionate share of the burden of cardiovascular disease.

“Most research in this area has focused on immediate medical risk factors — such as diabetes and dyslipidemia — for CVD risk,” Zilioli said. “It is only recently, however, that researchers have begun to consider the role of more distal risk factors, such as psychosocial stressors. Psychosocial factors – including neighborhood adversity; everyday interpersonal stressors such as racial discrimination, social isolation and negative interactions with others; and emotional reactivity to these factors – are believed to contribute to the causes and progression of cardiovascular disease through their effects on health behaviors, stress-sensitive neuroendocrine axes, and immune processes. These factors are especially critical for urban, middle-aged, and older African Americans who experience unique stressors like residential segregation, racial discrimination, and prejudice, and who are more likely to be more socio-economically disadvantaged than whites.

Using a mixed-methods, multi-timescale design approach with a large sample of 500 African-American Detroiters between the ages of 55 and 75, the study will identify and conceptualize critical psychosocial stressors for this population and model the psychological, behavioral and biological everyday life. pathways by which these factors exacerbate CVD risk in this cohort.

“We expect our findings to have substantial public health impact because they will help establish a model of the most salient psychosocial determinants of CVD risk in African American adults,” Zilioli said. “In turn, this model will guide the development of behavioral interventions to reduce the burden of disease in this population.”

The grant number for this study from the National Institutes of Health is HL153377.


About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is one of the nation’s leading urban public research universities. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, Michigan and around the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit

Paul N. Strickland