Gail D'Eramo Melkus


Gail D'Eramo Melkus headshot

Gail D'Eramo Melkus

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

1 212 998 5356

433 First Avenue
Room 744
New York, NY 10010
United States

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.

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

Ramchandani, N., Way, N., Melkus, G. D., & Sullivan-Bolyai, S. (2019). Diabetes Educator, 45(5), 484-497. 10.1177/0145721719861349
Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study undergirded by Meleis’s Transition Framework was to explore developmental, situational, and organizational challenges experienced by a diverse group of emerging adults (18-29 years old) with type 1 diabetes (T1DM). Their perspectives on creating a developmentally informed diabetes self-management (DSM) program that supports transitional care were also explored. Methods: A purposive sample of emerging adults with T1DM was recruited from the pediatric and adult diabetes clinics of an urban academic medical center. Those who consented participated in either a single focus group or a single interview. Self-reported demographic and clinical information was also collected. Results: The sample was comprised of 21 emerging adults, with an average age of 23.6 ± 2.6 years, diabetes duration of 14.7 ± 5.0 years, and 71% female. Four main themes emerged: (1) finding a balance between diabetes and life, (2) the desire to be in control of their diabetes, (3) the hidden burden of diabetes, and (4) the desire to have a connection with their diabetes provider. Use of insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors and attendance at diabetes camp decreased some of the DSM challenges. Different groups of individuals had different perspectives on living with diabetes and different approaches to DSM. Conclusions: The emerging adults in this study had a strong desire to be in good glycemic control. However, all participants described having a hard time balancing DSM with other competing life priorities. They also desired personalized patient-provider interactions with their diabetes care provider in clinical follow-up services. Even though the study sample was small, important themes emerged that warrant further exploration.

Integrative Review of Recruitment of Research Participants Through Facebook

Reagan, L., Nowlin, S. Y., Birdsall, S. B., Gabbay, J., Vorderstrasse, A., Johnson, C., & D’Eramo Melkus, G. (2019). Nursing Research, 68(6), 423-432. 10.1097/NNR.0000000000000385
BACKGROUND: Facebook (FB) has been widely used recently to recruit participants for adult health research. However, little is known about its effectiveness, cost, and the characteristics of participants recruited via FB when compared to other recruitment methods. OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this integrative review was to examine the published evidence concerning the use of FB in participant recruitment for adult health research, as compared to other social media, online, and traditional recruitment methods. METHODS: In this integrative review, we used the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. PubMed, CINAHL, SCOPUS, and Web of Science were the electronic databases used to identify the published articles. In regard to language, the search was limited. RESULTS: The efficacy and cost-effectiveness of using FB for recruitment in healthcare research as compared to more traditional forms of recruitment remain unclear. Reporting of recruitment strategies is inconsistent, and costs are often not included. FB is being used for recruitment frequently with other methods and, although often effective, can be costly. DISCUSSION: FB is used to recruit participants for a variety of studies, with researchers using both free and paid ads to reach potential participants. Reporting of recruitment methods needs to be more rigorous, streamlined, and standardized in scientific papers.

A National Study Links Nurses' Physical and Mental Health to Medical Errors and Perceived Worksite Wellness

Melnyk, B. M., Orsolini, L., Tan, A., Arslanian-Engoren, C., Melkus, G. D., Dunbar-Jacob, J., Rice, V. H., Millan, A., Dunbar, S. B., Braun, L. T., Wilbur, J., Chyun, D. A., Gawlik, K., & Lewis, L. M. (2018). Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 60(2), 126-131. 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001198
Objective: The aim of this study was to describe (1) nurses' physical and mental health; (2) the relationship between health and medical errors; and (3) the association between nurses' perceptions of wellness support and their health. Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive survey was conducted with 1790 nurses across the U.S. Results: Over half of the nurses reported suboptimal physical and mental health. Approximately half of the nurses reported having medical errors in the past 5 years. Compared with nurses with better health, those with worse health were associated with 26% to 71% higher likelihood of having medical errors. There also was a significant relationship between greater perceived worksite wellness and better health. Conclusion: Wellness must be a high priority for health care systems to optimize health in clinicians to enhance high-quality care and decrease the odds of costly preventable medical errors.

Participation of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in Technology-Based Interventions to Self-Manage Type 2 Diabetes: A Scoping Review

Jang, M., Johnson, C. M., D’Eramo-Melkus, G., & Vorderstrasse, A. A. (2018). Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 29(3), 292-307. 10.1177/1043659617723074
Purpose: Strategies to decrease societal and cultural barriers for ethnic minorities to participate in health research are well established. However, limited data are available regarding participation of ethnic minorities in mobile and Internet technology–based interventions to self-manage type 2 diabetes where health disparities are predominant. Thus, the purpose was to understand the participation of ethnic minorities in technology-based intervention programs to manage type 2 diabetes. Design/Method: A scoping review was used to review a total of 21 intervention studies containing participant information about ethnic minorities and one qualitative study discussing participation of ethnic minorities. Findings: There was limited enrollment and participation of ethnic minorities. Technological barriers in addition to existing societal and cultural barriers were identified. Strategies to decrease the barriers were recommended. Conclusions: Technological barriers were identified on top of the societal and cultural barriers in traditional interventions. Further research to reduce the barriers is warranted.

Perceived Stress, Its Physiological Correlates, and Quality of Life in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Weaver, K. R., Melkus, G. D., Fletcher, J., & Henderson, W. A. (2018). Biological Research for Nursing, 20(3), 312-320. 10.1177/1099800418756733
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic, common disorder of the gastrointestinal tract associated with high psychological comorbidity and diminished quality of life. Patients with IBS display a heightened sensitivity to stress, although the literature is inconsistent as to whether they have a dysregulated stress response. The purpose of the present investigation, a substudy of a larger research effort, was to examine physiological correlates of perceived stress in patients with IBS (cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone) and to explore associations between perceived stress and quality of life. A total of 101 participants (35 with IBS [predominant subtypes IBS-constipation and IBS-diarrhea] and 66 healthy controls [HCs]) completed self-report inventories regarding perceived stress and quality of life, and fasting peripheral blood was drawn. Participants with IBS did not differ from the HC in demographic or physiological measures but did differ in psychological measures, reporting significantly higher levels of perceived stress and lower levels of quality of life. Perceived stress and quality of life were not significantly associated in IBS participants. However, differential findings of the stress response were found within IBS participants by sex, race, and subtype. These findings illustrate the heterogeneity of the IBS patient population, underscore the necessity of evaluating larger sample sizes and increasing the diversity of such samples to include males and ethnic minorities, and demonstrate the importance of taking an individualized approach to evaluation and treatment in the IBS patient population.