Occupational therapy researcher awarded funding for postdoc fellow

Heather Fritz
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy Heather Fritz

Heather Fritz, assistant professor of occupational therapy in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the Institute of Gerontology, was awarded $60,000 in funding administered over two years to bring on a postdoctoral fellow through a competitive selection process for Wayne State faculty members.

Fritz’s incoming fellow, Yi-Ling Hu, a Ph.D. candidate in Rehabilitation and Participation Science at Washington University in St. Louis, will arrive at Wayne State in June. Hu earned her master’s degree in occupation therapy from National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan; at WUSTL, she has been a member of the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory since 2013 and has trained in the PEP Lab for evidence-based research involving themes such as home modification. Her research is focused on an in-home exercise program and medication management for older adults.

Hu will assist with Fritz’s funded study, “Frailty Prevention Among Older African Americans” (Michigan Health Endowment Fund: R-1707-141644).

Yi-Ling Hu
Incoming postdoctoral fellow Yi-Ling Hu

“Having Yi-Ling on board will directly advance my research program,” said Fritz. “As an occupational therapist, she has 5 years of clinical experience working with older adults in St. Louis, where more than 49% of the population is African American. She will lend her research expertise in physical activity habit formation, and greatly accelerate the analysis and publication of data and results.”

Hu will assume the research coordinator position on Fritz’s study, recruiting pre-frail older African Americans to participate in the study, attending meetings and contribute ideas to study procedures, collecting data, assisting with data analyses, and both co-authoring and leading publications. This will initiate new lines of funded research and facilitate the submission of follow-up grants to federal agencies including the NIH.

Fritz is looking forward to serving as Hu’s mentor, and fostering her relationships with Wayne State faculty researchers in both the Department of Occupational Therapy and the Institute of Gerontology.

“Yi-Ling’s career development at Wayne State will be multidimentional,” Fritz said, “This grant provides me with the opportunity to support and train a future tenure-track faculty and translational researcher in occupational therapy and gerontology, dramatically enhancing her ability to obtain external funding for an independent program of research.”

Fritz herself first came to Wayne State through the same postdoctoral fellowship program. From 2013-15, she worked under the mentorship of now-Dean Cathy Lysack, who has been on the WSU Applebaum occupational therapy faculty since 1997.

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