Sbarra Receives Varda Shoham Clinical Scientist Training Award


David Sbarra

Throughout her distinguished 30-year career, Past APS Board Member Varda Shoham was deeply involved in improving the training for the next generation of clinical scientists. When Shoham passed away in 2014 after a 4-year battle with cancer, clinical psychological science lost an outstanding investigator, teacher, and policy leader. In her memory, Shoham’s husband and longtime research collaborator, Michael Rohrbaugh (George Washington University), has established a training fund to continue her legacy of bridging the “science–practice gap” in clinical psychology.

The most recent awardee of the Varda Shoham Clinical Science Scholarship Fund is APS Fellow David Sbarra, associate professor of psychology at the University of Arizona. Sbarra will use this $4,000 in research funding to conduct an innovative small-scale intervention targeting diabetes prevention.

The global rise of Type 2 diabetes has become a public health emergency, and novel preventive interventions are sorely needed. Just within the United States, nearly 86 million adults have
elevated glucose levels that put them at risk of developing diabetes. While most diabetes prevention programs focus on the behavior of individuals, this new research does so in an entirely new and innovative way: by leveraging close personal relationships to improve health and increase physical activity.

As part of the project, Sbarra and APS Fellow Mark Whisman, from the University of Colorado Boulder, will supervise a team of doctoral students at the University of Arizona in “bench to bedside” translational research techniques as they develop the pilot study.

“Taken together, these activities will provide students with a unique and exciting problem-based learning practicum in which they will participate across the full continuum of clinical science training, from reviewing literature to testing the intervention in a pilot sample,” explains Sbarra.

Adds Rohrbaugh, “This innovative clinical-science training project is especially fitting because it marries Varda’s twin ideals of family-focused intervention and direct involvement of graduate students in the process of treatment development.”

To donate to the Varda Shoham Clinical Science Scholarship Fund, click here.

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