“As a researcher, this grant is meaningful to me because it provides protected research time, mentorship and training to further develop my research and pursue my goal of improving health and health care for couples and families managing cardiovascular disease,” explained Bidwell (Ph.D., R.N.), who is also a professor in the school’s Family Caregiving Institute.

Bidwell’s grant is a Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award, also known as the K01 award, developed by the NIH to provide support and protected time for an intensive career-development experience leading to research independence.

K01 grants are extremely competitive, Bidwell said, and she credited both the School of Nursing and UC Davis Health for supporting her with the development of her research program, skills and interprofessional collaboration.

Bidwell’s success is important to the young school’s success in growing its research programs, said Janice F. Bell, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.N., F.A.A.N., the school’s associate dean for research and Family Caregiving Institute director.

The ultimate goal of Bidwell’s study, “The Symmetry-HF Study: Symptom Dynamics and Clinical Biomarkers of Heart Failure in Older Adult Care Dyads After Heart Failure Hospitalization,” is to develop interventions to support better symptom response and management during hospital-to-home transitions.

The project uses intensive methods to examine how couples manage post-discharge symptoms on a daily basis. Bidwell wants to better understand how couple dynamics may support smoother transitions, such as fewer clinical events for the patient, less stressful experiences for the care partner, and better quality of life for both.

She’s supported on the award by a team of mentors who are nationally recognized for their expertise in family caregiving, heart failure, gerontology and intensive research designs. Her primary mentor is Ladson Hinton, M.D., associate director for research in the Family Caregiving Institute and professor in the UC Davis Health Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Other mentors and collaborators include experts from across UC Davis Health.

Bidwell credits this interprofessional collaboration for her successful grant application. She applied for a K01 grant shortly after joining the School of Nursing but was not successful. In addition to the School of Nursing research department, though, UC Davis Health is also home to the NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC), which provides a wide range of services and resources to researchers with the vision to grow research teams to improve human health. Bidwell said participation in the center’s KL2 Mentored Career Development Program expanded her research skills.

“The impact on my research expertise, professional network and overall career development has been massive,” she said. “As a direct result, I developed a completely new line of research, requiring expertise in complex research methods that I would never gain independently.”