Women Take Heart Fellow

Breast cancer researcher becomes Hope Heart Institute Women Take Heart Fellow

Reding, left, with focus group

Dr. Kerryn Reding leads a focus group as part of her Women Take Heart fellowship

Dr. Kerryn Reding, UW assistant professor of nursing, has been researching breast cancer for over 10 years. Her research focuses on biomarkers, which are biological signs that can be measured and used to predict occurrence of disease.

Studying and identifying biomarkers allows researchers and providers to start prevention or intervention measures in people who present a risk for disease. And, like many health researchers, Reding believes in prevention first.

When the UW School of Nursing and Hope Heart Institute decided to collaborate on a research fellowship, Reding’s knowledge of biomarkers, intervention programs, and health disparities made her an excellent candidate for a heart fellowship — even if the majority of her research was in another disease.
“When we conduct an intervention for obesity, in order to see the effect on the body, we measure certain biomarkers.” Reding said. “It’s amazing that these same biomarkers are relevant to the development of heart disease and breast cancer.”

Breast cancer biomarkers

In the past few decades, researchers have identified several specific biomarkers of breast cancer that have changed diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for breast cancer patients and those at risk for the disease.
“Improving women’s heart health is a priority for The Hope Heart Institute,” said Cherie Skager, Hope Heart Institute executive director. “We are thrilled to have Kerryn join our team and collaborate on a project that will make a real difference in the health of women in our community.”
“Our collective goal is that Kerryn’s research project will result in identifying an intervention program that will reduce the burden of heart disease in women by focusing on improving diet and exercise habits,” she said. “This work is especially meaningful, as we are looking at long–term maintenance of behavioral change.”

Community-based lifestyle intervention

As the Women Take Heart Fellow, Reding will develop and implement a community-based lifestyle intervention that centers on achievable diet and exercise goals that will lead to sustained, healthy weight loss.

Reding’s expertise in community-led lifestyle changes inspired her to convene focus groups, where she’ll be able to hear from people about what changes are possible given their work and home lives, and what are simply not. In fact, Hope Heart’s renewed focus on prevention science places them at the forefront of evidence-based practices for weight loss.

Reding has led numerous studies in breast cancer prevention, including research-based interventions. She has worked with community partners, including the Seattle-based breast cancer survivor and support group Cierra Sisters, to reach vulnerable populations.
“It is exciting to have the opportunity to engage the community in our efforts,” Reding said. “When it comes to approaches for sustainable changes, people are the best experts of what is feasible in their lives.”