Faculty

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

Accepting PhD students

expand all

collapse all

Professional overview

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.

Education

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

Specialties

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

Professional membership

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

Honors and awards

Faculty Honors Awards

International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame, Sigma Theta Tau (2015)
Affiliated Faculty Appointment, University of Georgia (2014)
Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Bridgeport (2014)
Faculty Scholar Appointment, Universita' Tor Vergata (2014)
Fellow, New York Academy of Medicine (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)
Fellow, American Academy of Nursing (2003)
Excellence in Nursing Research Award, Diamond Jubilee Virginia Henderson (2003)

Publications

Publications

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
Abstract
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). Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(3). 10.2196/12543
Abstract
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
Abstract
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.

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
Abstract
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
Abstract
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
Abstract
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.

Prevalence of Obesity, Prediabetes, and Diabetes in Sexual Minority Women of Diverse Races/Ethnicities: Findings From the 2014-2015 BRFSS Surveys

Newlin Lew, K., Dorsen, C., Melkus, G. D., & Maclean, M. (2018). Diabetes Educator, 44(4), 348-360. 10.1177/0145721718776599
Abstract
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to assess the weighted prevalence and odds ratios of obesity, prediabetes, and diabetes by (1) female sexual orientation (lesbian, bisexual, and straight) with racial/ethnic (Hispanic, non-Hispanic black, and non-Hispanic white) groups combined and (2) across and within racial/ethnic groups by sexual orientation. Methods: A secondary analysis of pooled 2014-2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data from 28 states (N = 136 878) was conducted. Rao-Scott chi-square test statistics were computed and logistic regression models were developed to assess weighted prevalence and odds ratios of obesity, prediabetes, and diabetes with adjustments for demographics (age, income, and education), depression, and health care access factors. Results: With racial/ethnic groups combined, lesbian and bisexual women, relative to straight women, had a significantly increased likelihood for obesity when controlling for demographics. Bisexual women were found to have significantly reduced odds for diabetes, compared with straight women, with adjustments for demographics, depression, and health care access factors. Compared with their non-Hispanic white counterparts, Hispanic lesbian women had significantly increased odds for obesity and diabetes, while non-Hispanic black bisexual women had a significantly greater likelihood for obesity, holding demographics, depression, and health care access factors constant. Non-Hispanic white lesbian women had an increased likelihood for obesity relative to their straight, ethnic/racial counterparts. Prediabetes subsample analysis revealed the prevalence was low across all female sexual orientation groups. Conclusion: Sexual minority women, particularly those of color, may be at increased risk for obesity and diabetes. Research is needed to confirm the findings.

Racial and ethnic disparities in predictors of glycemia: a moderated mediation analysis of inflammation-related predictors of diabetes in the NHANES 2007–2010

Nowlin, S., Cleland, C. M., Parekh, N., Hagan, H., & Melkus, G. (2018). Nutrition and Diabetes, 8(1). 10.1038/s41387-018-0064-7
Abstract
Background/Objective: Racial/ethnic disparities in type 2 diabetes (T2D) outcomes exist, and could be explained by nutrition- and inflammation-related differences. The objective of this study is to identify associations between race/ethnicity and glucose control among participants from NHANES 2007–2010, as influenced by diet quality, body mass, and inflammation and grouped by T2D status. Subjects/Methods: The following is a cross-sectional, secondary data analysis of two NHANES data cycles spanning 2007–2010. The association between race/ethnicity and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) as mediated by dietary intake score, body mass index (BMI), and C-reactive protein (CRP) was assessed, as was the strength of the difference of that association, or moderation, by T2D status. The sample included n = 7850 non-pregnant adult participants ≥ 20 years of age who had two days of reliable dietary recall data, and no missing data on key variables included in the analysis. The primary outcome examined was HbA1c. Results: The model accurately explained the variation in HbA1c measures in participants without T2D, as mediated by diet quality, BMI, and CRP. However, significant variation in HbA1c remained after accounting for aforementioned mediators when contrasting non-Hispanic White to non-Hispanic Black participants without T2D. The model was not a good fit for explaining racial/ethnic disparities in HbA1c in participants with T2D. A test of the index of moderated mediation for this model was not significant for the differences in the effect of race/ethnicity on HbA1c by T2D status (moderator). Conclusions: This study demonstrated that diet quality, BMI, and CRP mediated the effect of race/ethnicity on HbA1c in persons without T2D, but not in persons with T2D. Further research should include additional inflammatory markers, and other inflammation- and T2D-related health outcomes, and their association with racial/ethnic disparities in diabetes.

Serum Proteomics in African American Female Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: An Exploratory Study

Weaver, K. R., Melkus, G. D., Fletcher, J., & Henderson, W. A. (2018). Nursing Research, 67(3), 261-267. 10.1097/NNR.0000000000000281
Abstract
Background Sex and subtype differences within patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) complicate the understanding of disorder pathogenesis and hinder the design of efficacious, therapeutic interventions. Objectives The aims of this study were to harness the power of shotgun proteomic analysis, identify circulating proteins that differentiate African American female patients with IBS from healthy controls (HC), and gain biological insight on symptomatology. Methods Serum proteome analysis was performed upon a cohort of overweight, African American female participants with constipation predominant IBS symptoms (n = 5) and HC (n = 5), matched on age, sex, years of education, body mass index, and 11 physiological markers. Tandem mass tags for multiplexed proteomic analysis were performed, incorporating reverse-phase liquid chromatography and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Results Participants with IBS did not differ from HC in demographics, clinical characteristics, or initial proteomic analysis. Nested case control analysis of six samples (IBS: n = 3, HC: n = 3), hierarchically clustered into two main groups, with 12 out of 1,317 proteins significantly different in levels of expression: TGFβ1, PF4V1, PF4, APP, MMP9, PPBP, CTGF, SRGN, THBS1, WRN, LTBP1 (Isoform 3), and IGLV5-48. Top associations of identified proteins in DAVID and STRING resources (upregulated in HC vs. IBS) involve platelet alpha granule lumen, platelet activation/degranulation, extracellular region, and secretion by cell. Discussion Differentially expressed proteins between participants with IBS and HC involving platelet-related associations prompt inquiry as to differences in serotonergic signaling, inflammatory or immunomodulatory mechanisms underlying IBS symptomatology. Although preliminary and requiring validation in larger cohorts, these findings bear relevance to understanding pathogenic processes of IBS and biological effects of the disorder.

Diabetes Self-management Training in a Virtual Environment

Reagan, L., Pereira, K., Jefferson, V., Evans Kreider, K., Totten, S., D’Eramo Melkus, G., Johnson, C., & Vorderstrasse, A. (2017). Diabetes Educator, 43(4), 413-421. 10.1177/0145721717715632
Abstract
Diabetes self-management training (DSMT) improves diabetes health outcomes. However, low numbers of patients receive DSMT. Using virtual environments (VEs) for DSMT is an innovative approach to removing barriers for patients. The purpose of this paper is to describe the experience of health professionals and diabetes educators establishing and teaching DSMT in a VE, Diabetes LIVE

Active Projects