- Professional overview
Dr. Merriman’s research is focused on changes in cognitive function after a diagnosis of cancer. He is particularly interested in biobehavioral predictors of these cognitive changes, including functional and structural brain markers, genomic markers, and mood. Prior to his faculty appointment, he was a postdoctoral associate at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing and a doctoral student at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing.
University of California, San Francisco PhD, NursingUniversity of California, San Francisco MS, NursingMississippi College BS, Communication
- Honors and awards
University of Pittsburgh Postdoctoral Association Postdoctoral Alumni Award (2016)Sigma Theta Tau International inductee (2006)Mortar Board inductee (1993)
- Professional membership
Oncology Nursing SocietySigma Theta Tau InternationalInternational Society of Nurses in Genetics
Trajectories of self-reported cognitive function in postmenopausal women during adjuvant systemic therapy for breast cancer.Merriman, J. D., Sereika, S. M., Brufsky, A. M., McAuliffe, P. F., McGuire, K. P., Myers, J. S., … Bender, C. M. (2017). Psycho-oncology 26, (44-52). 10.1002/pon.4009
In a sample of 368 postmenopausal women, we (1) determined within-cohort and between-cohort relationships between adjuvant systemic therapy for breast cancer and self-reported cognitive function during the first 18 months of therapy and (2) evaluated the influence of co-occurring symptoms, neuropsychological function, and other covariates on relationships.
Associations between catecholaminergic, GABAergic, and serotonergic genes and self-reported attentional function in oncology patients and their family caregivers.Merriman, J. D., Aouizerat, B. E., Cataldo, J. K., Dunn, L. B., Kober, K., Langford, D. J., … Miaskowski, C. (2015). European journal of oncology nursing : the official journal of European Oncology Nursing Society 19, (251-9). 10.1016/j.ejon.2014.11.004
Evaluate for associations between variations in genes involved in catecholaminergic, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic, and serotonergic mechanisms of neurotransmission and attentional function latent classes.
Patterns of change in cognitive function with anastrozole therapy.Bender, C. M., Merriman, J. D., Gentry, A. L., Ahrendt, G. M., Berga, S. L., Brufsky, A. M., … Sereika, S. M. (2015). Cancer 121, (2627-36). 10.1002/cncr.29393
The purpose of this study was to examine and compare the effects of the first 18 months of anastrozole therapy on cognitive function in women with breast cancer.
Association between an interleukin 1 receptor, type I promoter polymorphism and self-reported attentional function in women with breast cancer.Merriman, J. D., Aouizerat, B. E., Cataldo, J. K., Dunn, L., Cooper, B. A., West, C., … Miaskowski, C. (2014). Cytokine 65, (192-201). 10.1016/j.cyto.2013.11.003
Subgroups of patients with breast cancer may be at greater risk for cytokine-induced changes in cognitive function after diagnosis and during treatment. The purposes of this study were to identify subgroups of patients with distinct trajectories of attentional function and evaluate for phenotypic and genotypic (i.e., cytokine gene polymorphisms) predictors of subgroup membership. Self-reported attentional function was evaluated in 397 patients with breast cancer using the Attentional Function Index before surgery and for six months after surgery (i.e., seven time points). Using growth mixture modeling, three attentional function latent classes were identified: High (41.6%), Moderate (25.4%), and Low-moderate (33.0%). Patients in the Low-moderate class were significantly younger than those in the High class, with more comorbidities and lower functional status than the other two classes. No differences were found among the classes in years of education, race/ethnicity, or other clinical characteristics. DNA was recovered from 302 patients' samples. Eighty-two single nucleotide polymorphisms among 15 candidate genes were included in the genetic association analyses. After controlling for age, comorbidities, functional status, and population stratification due to race/ethnicity, IL1R1 rs949963 remained a significant genotypic predictor of class membership in the multivariable model. Carrying the rare "A" allele (i.e., GA+AA) was associated with a twofold increase in the odds of belonging to a lower attentional function class (OR: 1.98; 95% CI: 1.18, 3.30; p=.009). Findings provide evidence of subgroups of women with breast cancer who report distinct trajectories of attentional function and of a genetic association between subgroup membership and an IL1R1 promoter polymorphism.
Cancer- and treatment-related cognitive changes: what can we do now? What lies ahead?Bender, C. M., & Merriman, J. D. (2014). Oncology (Williston Park, N.Y.) 28, (806-8).
Preliminary evidence of an association between an interleukin 6 promoter polymorphism and self-reported attentional function in oncology patients and their family caregivers.Merriman, J. D., Aouizerat, B. E., Langford, D. J., Cooper, B. A., Baggott, C. R., Cataldo, J. K., … Miaskowski, C. (2014). Biological research for nursing 16, (152-9). 10.1177/1099800413479441
Subgroups of individuals may be at greater risk of cytokine-induced changes in attentional function. The purposes of this study were to identify subgroups of individuals with distinct trajectories of attentional function and evaluate for phenotypic and genotypic (i.e., cytokine gene polymorphisms) differences among these subgroups. Self-reported attentional function was evaluated in 252 participants (167 oncology patients and 85 family caregivers) using the Attentional Function Index before radiation therapy and at six additional assessments over 6 months. Three latent classes of attentional function were identified using growth mixture modeling: moderate (36.5%), moderate-to-high (48.0%), and high (15.5%) attentional function. Participants in the moderate class were significantly younger, with more comorbidities and lower functional status, than those in the other two classes. However, only functional status remained significant in multivariable models. Included in the genetic association analyses were 92 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) among 15 candidate genes. Additive, dominant, and recessive genetic models were assessed for each SNP. Controlling for functional status, only Interleukin 6 (IL6) rs1800795 remained a significant genotypic predictor of class membership in multivariable models. Each additional copy of the rare "G" allele was associated with a 4-fold increase in the odds of belonging to the lower attentional function class (95% confidence interval: [1.78, 8.92]; p = .001). Findings provide preliminary evidence of subgroups of individuals with distinct trajectories of attentional function and of a genetic association with an IL6 promoter polymorphism.
Proposed mechanisms for cancer- and treatment-related cognitive changes.Merriman, J. D., Von Ah, D., Miaskowski, C., & Aouizerat, B. E. (2013). Seminars in oncology nursing 29, (260-9). 10.1016/j.soncn.2013.08.006
To review the proposed mechanisms of cognitive changes associated with non-central nervous system cancers and cancer treatment.
Predictors of the trajectories of self-reported attentional fatigue in women with breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy.Merriman, J. D., Jansen, C., Koetters, T., West, C., Dodd, M., Lee, K., … Miaskowski, C. (2010). Oncology nursing forum 37, (423-32). 10.1188/10.ONF.423-432
To examine how attentional fatigue changed from the time of simulation to four months after the completion of radiation therapy and to investigate whether specific variables predicted initial levels and trajectories of attentional fatigue.
Differences in self-reported attentional fatigue between patients with breast and prostate cancer at the initiation of radiation therapy.Merriman, J. D., Dodd, M., Lee, K., Paul, S. M., Cooper, B. A., Aouizerat, B. E., … Miaskowski, C. Cancer nursing 34, (345-53). 10.1097/NCC.0b013e318202520a
Attentional fatigue is experienced as a decreased ability to concentrate, engage in purposeful activity, and maintain social relationships when there are competing demands on attention. Breast and prostate cancer are the 2 most common cancers in women and men, respectively. Most previous studies on self-reported attentional fatigue evaluated patients with breast cancer.