Gail D'Eramo Melkus


Gail D'Eramo Melkus headshot

Gail D'Eramo Melkus

Florence and William Downs Professor in Nursing Research
Vice Dean for Research

1 212 998 5356

Gail D'Eramo Melkus's additional information

Gail D’Eramo Melkus, EdD, ANP, FAAN, is the vice dean for research and the Florence and William Downs Professor in Nursing Research at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. Melkus’ sustained interest in eliminating health disparities among vulnerable populations earned her a reputation as a leader in the development and testing of culturally competent models of diabetes care. Her program of intervention research that focuses on physiological and behavioral outcomes of self-management interventions has served as an education and training ground for numerous multidisciplinary scientists. 

Melkus currently serves as co-PI and co-investigator or research mentor on numerous funded projects specific to biobehavioral interventions for prevention and management of chronic conditions and related co-morbidities, in mid-life and older adults, including national and international work. Melkus serves as sponsor of K-awards focused on health disparities among vulnerable populations (women with T2D and depression; elderly Blacks at-risk for depression, glycemic control and infection in oncology stem cell recipients, CHD in older adult workers, HIV in adolescents). She is PI for the NINR P20 Center for Precision Health in Diverse Populations.

Before joining the faculty at NYU Meyers, Melkus was the Independence Foundation Professor of Nursing at the Yale University School of Nursing, where, in collaboration with the Diabetes Research Center of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in NY, she developed and implemented the Diabetes Care Specialty for advanced practice nurses. 

In recognition of her mentorship, Melkus received the 1st Annual NYU CTSI Mentor Award in May 2011, and in 2015 was inducted into the STTI Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame.

Melkus earned her EdD from Columbia University, MS from Yale University, MS from Connecticut State University, and ASN/BS in Nursing from the University of Bridgeport.

MS - Yale University (2003)
EdD - Columbia University (1987)
MS - Connecticut State University (1978)
ASN/BS, Nursing - University of Bridgeport (1976)

Primary care
Non-communicable disease
Women's health
Adult health

American Academy of Nursing
American Diabetes Association
Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science
CT Nursing Association
Eastern Nursing Research Society
Society for Behavioral Medicine

Faculty Honors Awards

International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame, Sigma Theta Tau (2015)
Faculty Scholar Appointment, Universita' Tor Vergata (2014)
Fellow, New York Academy of Medicine (2014)
Affiliated Faculty Appointment, University of Georgia (2014)
Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Bridgeport (2014)
Advisory Committee Member, Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage (2013)
1st annual Distinguished Mentor Award, NYU Clinical Translational Science Institute (2011)
Distinguished Scholar Award, New York University College of Nursing (2010)
Distinguished Nurse Researcher Award, New York State Nurse Foundation (2009)
Endowed Chair, New York University (2008)
Endowed Chair of the Independence Foundation, Yale University (2004)
Excellence in Nursing Research Award, Diamond Jubilee Virginia Henderson (2003)
Fellow, American Academy of Nursing (2003)


Changes in Gut Microbiome Associated With Co-Occurring Symptoms Development During Chemo-Radiation for Rectal Cancer: A Proof of Concept Study

González-Mercado, V. J., Henderson, W. A., Sarkar, A., Lim, J., Saligan, L. N., Berk, L., Dishaw, L., McMillan, S., Groer, M., Sepehri, F., & Melkus, G. D. (2021). Biological Research for Nursing, 23(1), 31-41. 10.1177/1099800420942830
Purpose: To examine a) whether there are significant differences in the severity of symptoms of fatigue, sleep disturbance, or depression between patients with rectal cancer who develop co-occurring symptoms and those with no symptoms before and at the end of chemotherapy and radiation therapy (CRT); b) differences in gut microbial diversity between those with co-occurring symptoms and those with no symptoms; and c) whether before-treatment diversity measurements and taxa abundances can predict co-occurrence of symptoms. Methods: Stool samples and symptom ratings were collected from 31 patients with rectal cancer prior to and at the end of (24–28 treatments) CRT. Descriptive statistics were computed and the Mann-Whitney U test was performed for symptoms. Gut microbiome data were analyzed using R’s vegan package software. Results: Participants with co-occurring symptoms reported greater severity of fatigue at the end of CRT than those with no symptoms. Bacteroides and Blautia2 abundances differed between participants with co-occurring symptoms and those with no symptoms. Our random forest classification (unsupervised learning algorithm) predicted participants who developed co-occurring symptoms with 74% accuracy, using specific phylum, family, and genera abundances as predictors. Conclusion: Our preliminary results point to an association between the gut microbiota and co-occurring symptoms in rectal cancer patients and serves as a first step in potential identification of a microbiota-based classifier.

Exploring the effects of genomic testing on fear of cancer recurrence among breast cancer survivors

Gormley, M., Knobf, M. T., Vorderstrasse, A., Aouizerat, B., Hammer, M., Fletcher, J., & D’Eramo Melkus, G. (2021). Psycho-Oncology, 30(8), 1322-1331. 10.1002/pon.5679
Objective: Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) is the greatest unmet psychosocial need among breast cancer survivors (BCS). The Oncotype Dx® test predicts the 10-year risk of distant recurrence and benefit of adjuvant chemotherapy among women with early stage hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. Despite the test's clinical utility, psychosocial responses are poorly understood. Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted to explore associations between Oncotype Dx® test results (Recurrence Score [RS]) and FCR, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), distress, anxiety, depression, illness representation and perceived risk. Bivariate analyses were used to examine the associations between variables followed by multiple linear regression to examine predictors of FCR. Results: Greater FCR was associated with higher distress, anxiety, depression, illness representation and poorer HRQOL. BCS's with a high Oncotype Dx® RS reported higher overall fear (p = 0.013) and greater perceived consequences of their cancer (p = 0.034) compared to BCS's with a low RS. Using multiple linear regression, anxiety ((Formula presented.) = 0.21, p = 0.016), greater emotional response (Formula presented.) = 0.45, p < 0.001) and perceived consequences ((Formula presented.) = 0.18, p = 0.039) of illness explained 58% of the variance (p < 0.001) in FCR. Conclusion: BCS's with higher risk of recurrence may experience higher FCR. However, for FCR, modifiable factors such as anxiety and illness representation (greater emotional response and perceived consequences of illness) may be more important than non-modifiable factors such as Oncotype Dx® test results and age. Further research is needed to develop personalized interventions to improve BCS's outcomes.

Habitual physical activity patterns in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults

Malone, S. K., Patterson, F., Grunin, L., Melkus, G. D., Riegel, B., Punjabi, N., Yu, G., Urbanek, J., Crainiceanu, C., & Pack, A. (2021). Translational Behavioral Medicine, 11(2), 332-341. 10.1093/tbm/ibaa002
Physical inactivity is a leading determinant of noncommunicable diseases. Yet, many adults remain physically inactive. Physical activity guidelines do not account for the multidimensionality of physical activity, such as the type or variety of physical activity behaviors. This study identified patterns of physical activity across multiple dimensions (e.g., frequency, duration, and variety) using a nationally representative sample of adults. Sociodemographic characteristics, health behaviors, and clinical characteristics associated with each physical activity pattern were defined. Multivariate finite mixture modeling was used to identify patterns of physical activity among 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 adult National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants. Chi-square tests were used to identify sociodemographic differences within each physical activity cluster and test associations between the physical activity clusters with health behaviors and clinical characteristics. Five clusters of physical activity patterns were identified: (a) low frequency, short duration (n = 730, 13%); (b) low frequency, long duration (n = 392, 7%); (c) daily frequency, short duration (n = 3,011, 55%); (d) daily frequency, long duration (n = 373, 7%); and (e) high frequency, average duration (n = 964, 18%). Walking was the most common form of activity; highly active adults engaged in more varied types of activity. High-activity clusters were comprised of a greater proportion of younger, White, nonsmoking adult men reporting moderate alcohol use without mobility problems or chronic health conditions. Active females engaged in frequent short bouts of activity. Data-driven approaches are useful for identifying clusters of physical activity that encompass multiple dimensions of activity. These activity clusters vary across sociodemographic and clinical subgroups.

A mixed methods study describing the self-care practices in an older working population with cardiovascular disease (CVD): Balancing work, life and health

Dickson, V. V., Jun, J., & Melkus, G. D. (2021). Heart and Lung, 50(3), 447-454. 10.1016/j.hrtlng.2021.02.001
Background: Self-care is essential to cardiovascular disease (CVD) health outcomes, but may be challenging for older working adults. Objective: Describe self-care and the relationship of work-related characteristics to self-care among older workers with CVD. Methods: Convergent mixed methods design (n = 108) assessed self-care, organization of work, job-level and clinical factors; qualitative data (n = 40) explored self-care and working. Data integrated in the final analytic phase. Results: Sixty-eight percent reported adequate self-care maintenance (SC-CHDI maintenance ≥70); only 22% had adequate self-care management (SC-CHDI management ≥ 70). Controlling for physical capacity, work-related factors explained 22% variance in self-care maintenance; physical capacity was only significant determinant of self-care management. Individuals with poor self-care described low job control, job stress and work-life imbalance that interfered with routine self-care. Individuals with poor self-care management reported “feeling stressed out” and “extreme fatigue” attributed to their job. Conclusions: Interventions targeting self-care, stress management and work-life balance among older workers with CVD are needed.

Recruitment and enrollment of participants in an online diabetes self-management intervention in a virtual environment

Vorderstrasse, A., Reagan, L., D’Eramo Melkus, G., Nowlin, S. Y., Birdsall, S. B., Burd, A., Cho, Y. H., Jang, M., & Johnson, C. (2021). Contemporary Clinical Trials, 105. 10.1016/j.cct.2021.106399
Effective recruitment of research participants is essential for successful randomized controlled trials and remains one of the most challenging and labor-intensive aspects of conducting research. The purpose of this manuscript is to describe recruitment methods for this two-group, internet-based intervention trial and enrollment status in relation to recruitment methods, accounting for accrual rates and recruitment costs and to discuss our recruitment results and limitations informed by the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI) team's evidence and expert-based recommendations for recruitment. The primary study was a two-group randomized controlled trial designed to evaluate the efficacy of a virtual environment, Diabetes LIVE

Adherence Self-Management and the Influence of Contextual Factors Among Emerging Adults With Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Dunn Navarra, A. M., Whittemore, R., Bakken, S., Rosenberg, M. J., Gormley, M., Bethea, J., Gwadz, M., Cleland, C., Liang, E., & D’Eramo Melkus, G. (2020). Nursing Research, 69(3), 197-209. 10.1097/NNR.0000000000000422
BACKGROUND: Maintaining adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a significant challenge for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected racial and ethnic minority adolescents and young adults (youth). Given the consequences of suboptimal ART adherence, there is a pressing need for an expanded understanding of adherence behavior in this cohort. OBJECTIVES: As part of an exploratory sequential, mixed-methods study, we used qualitative inquiry to explore adherence information, motivation, and behavioral skills among HIV-infected racial and ethnic minority youth. Our secondary aim was to gain an understanding of the contextual factors surrounding adherence behavior. METHODS: The information-motivation-behavioral skills model (IMB model) was applied to identify the conceptual determinants of adherence behavior in our target population, along with attention to emergent themes. In-depth, individual, semistructured interviews, including open-ended questions with probes, were conducted with a convenience sample of HIV-infected racial and ethnic minority youth (ages 16-29 years), receiving ART and with evidence of virologic failure (i.e., detectable HIV viral load). New participants were interviewed until information redundancy was reached. Qualitative interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using Atlas.ti (v8). Directed content analysis was performed to generate categories and broad themes. Coding was initially conceptually driven (IMB model) and shifted to a data-driven approach, allowing for the discovery of key contextual factors that influence adherence behavior in this population. Methodological rigor was ensured by member checks, an audit trail, thick descriptive data, and triangulation of data sources. RESULTS: Twenty racial and ethnic minority participants (mean age = 24.3 years, 55.0% male) completed interviews. We found adherence information was understood in relation to HIV biomarkers; adherence motivation and behavioral skills were influenced by stigma and social context. We identified five primary themes regarding ART self-management: (a) emerging adulthood with a chronic illness, (b) stigma and disclosure concerns, (c) support systems and support deficits, (d) mental and behavioral health risks and challenges, and (e) mode of HIV transmission and perceptions of power and control. DISCUSSION: Key constructs of the IMB model were applicable to participating HIV-infected youth yet did not fully explain the essence of adherence behavior. As such, we recommend expansion of current adherence models and frameworks to include known contextual factors associated with ART self-management among HIV-infected racial and ethnic minority youth.

The Healthy Eating and Living Against Noncommunicable Diseases Study: An Innovative Family-Based Intervention

Parekh, N., Khalife, G., Hellmers, N., & D’Eramo Melkus, G. (2020). Diabetes Educator, 46(6), 569-579. 10.1177/0145721720965491
Objective: Inadequate nutrition literacy within families is a barrier for healthy dietary choices and influences chronic disease risk. This pilot study examined the feasibility of providing an in-person nutrition intervention for families at high risk of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk-factors. Methods: Eligible families had at least one member with a non-communicable disease (NCD) or metabolic risk factor, fluency in English, willingness to attend all three educational sessions and complete questionnaires as a family unit. Sessions included didactic and experiential activities on food label reading, portion sizing, physical activity and modifiable lifestyle factors to reduce NCD risk. Demographics and fruit and vegetable screeners were collected from all participants at baseline and after completion of sessions. Families participated in focus groups to evaluate the program. Results: Twelve families (n=35;17 adults;18 children) were recruited from New York City. Participants self-identified as Asian, Hispanic or Black. Adults had a mean age of 40y, BMI of 32.29kg/m2, household income of $35,000-$49,000y, and 13 of 17 adult participants had college degrees. Children ranged from 1-17y. Based on focus group feedback, three sessions were acceptable, families reported enjoying interactive activities and group learning and requested child-friendly activities. They reported improved knowledge of food labels, strategies for grocery shopping, portion-sizing, and increased awareness of the links between diet quality and NCDs. Conclusions and Implications: The study met recruitment goals within 4 months. The educational intervention was acceptable and may be scaled-up for future studies on NCD prevention, particularly prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Relevance of Sex and Subtype in Patients With IBS: An Exploratory Study of Gene Expression

Weaver, K. R., Melkus, G. D., Fletcher, J., & Henderson, W. A. (2020). Biological Research for Nursing, 22(1), 13-23. 10.1177/1099800419889189
BACKGROUND: Psychological state, stress level, and gastrointestinal function are intricately related and relevant to symptom exacerbation in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but genetic contributors to this brain-gut connection are not fully understood. The purpose of this exploratory study was to compare gene expression in participants with IBS to that of healthy controls (HC) and to examine patterns of expression in participants with IBS by sex and IBS subtype.METHOD: Participants were recruited to an ongoing protocol at the National Institutes of Health. Differences in demographic and clinical characteristics were assessed using descriptive statistics and Mann-Whitney U tests. Expression levels of 84 genes were evaluated in peripheral whole blood using Custom RT2 Profiler polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Arrays, and data analysis was performed through GeneGlobe Data Analysis Center.RESULTS: Participants with IBS (n = 27) reported greater levels of perceived stress (p = .037) and differed in expression values of ±2 for the genes ADIPOR1, ADIPOR2, CNR2, COMT, OXTR, and PPARA compared to HC (n = 43). Further analyses by sex and IBS subtype revealed differential patterns of gene expression related to the endocannabinoid system, cytokines, stress, and sex steroid hormones.CONCLUSIONS: Diverse yet interconnected processes such as metabolism, inflammation, immunity, social behavior, and pain are associated with differences in gene expression between participants with IBS and HC. These findings lend support for genomic associations with the brain-gut connection in patients with IBS and highlight the relevance of sex and IBS subtype in performing such analyses.

Adherence connection for counseling, education, and support: Research protocol for a proof-of-concept study

Navarra, A. M. D., Gwadz, M. V., Bakken, S., Whittemore, R., Cleland, C. M., & Melkus, G. D. (2019). JMIR Research Protocols, 8(3). 10.2196/12543
Background: The highest rates of new HIV infections are observed in African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos (ethnic minority) adolescents and young adults (youth). HIV-infected ethnic minority youth are less likely to initiate and maintain adherence to antiretroviral treatment (ART) and medical care, as compared with their adult counterparts. Objective: The objective of this research protocol was to describe our proposed methods for testing a peer-led mobile health cognitive behavioral intervention, delivered via remote videoconferencing and smartphones with HIV-infected ethnic minority youth, Adherence Connection for Counseling, Education, and Support (ACCESS). Our secondary aim was to obtain initial estimates of the biobehavioral impact of ACCESS on HIV virologic outcomes and self-reported ART adherence, beliefs and knowledge about ART treatment, adherence self-efficacy, and health care utilization (retention in care). Methods: An exploratory, sequential mixed-methods study design will be used with conceptual determinants of adherence behavior informed by the information-motivation-behavioral skills model. HIV-infected ethnic minority youth aged 16 to 29 years with a detectable HIV serum viral load of more than 200 copies/ml (N=25) will be recruited. Qualitative pretesting will be conducted, including semistructured, in-depth, individual interviews with a convenience sample meeting the study inclusion criteria. Preliminary analysis of qualitative data will be used to inform and tailor the ACCESS intervention. Testing and implementation will include a one-group pre-posttest pilot, delivered by a trained successful peer health coach who lives with HIV and is well-engaged in HIV care and taking ART. A total of 5 peer-led remote videoconferencing sessions will be delivered using study-funded smartphones and targeting adherence information (HIV knowledge), motivation (beliefs and perceptions), and behavioral skills (self-efficacy). Participant satisfaction will be assessed with poststudy focus groups and quantitative survey methodology. Bivariate analyses will be computed to compare pre- and postintervention changes in HIV biomarkers, self-reported ART adherence, beliefs and knowledge about ART, adherence self-efficacy, and retention in care. Results: As of December 2018, we are in the data analysis phase of this pilot and anticipate completion with dissemination of final study findings by spring/summer 2019. The major outcomes will include intervention feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary evidence of impact on serum HIV RNA quantitative viral load (primary adherence outcome variable). Self-reported ART adherence and retention in care will be assessed as secondary outcomes. Findings from the qualitative pretesting will contribute to an improved understanding of adherence behavior. Conclusions: Should the ACCESS intervention prove feasible and acceptable, this research protocol will contribute to a shift in existent HIV research paradigms by offering a blueprint for technology-enabled peer-led interventions and models.

Challenges to Diabetes Self-Management in Emerging Adults With Type 1 Diabetes

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