Patricia A. Riccio, assistant professor of nursing, has been awarded a Fulbright Faculty Research Award in Medical Sciences.
During her six-month residency in Italy starting in August, Riccio will initiate a study on sleep in Alzheimer’s disease patients and their caregivers. She will collaborate with scientists from the University of Rome, with whom she has worked on prior studies.
“Sleep disturbances are a big problem for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers,” said Riccio, who has been studying sleep in Alzheimer’s disease for the past four years.
Her previous studies found that sleep quality and daytime sleepiness in American caregivers and patients differ from those in Italy. “In this study I will examine, along with sleep patterns, cultural influences surrounding sleep in the Italian Alzheimer’s disease caregiver and patient populations,” Riccio said. “A better understanding of sleep patterns and identifying what the disturbances are will guide health professionals in identifying and proposing appropriate interventions for both the patients and caregivers.”
Riccio is one of only two researchers offered the Fulbright Award to Italy this year. Her grant proposal passed a rigorous peer review conducted by the Fulbright Commission in Washington, D.C., before being approved by an Italian commission of reviewers.
“We are very proud of Dr. Riccio’s award of a Fulbright Faculty Research Award, which brings distinction not only to her but to the Department of Nursing Program and to the university,” said Joseph Van Der Meulen, vice president for health affairs. “It also reinforces the university’s outreach into the international community of scholars ” He added, ” As a neurologist I am particularly pleased that her research is directed towards Alzheimer’s disease, which has become a major area of concern among a large portion of our population.”
Riccio earned her Ph.D. at UCLA, where she worked with neurologists who specialize in Alzheimer’s disease, and has been at USC for eight years. Congress created the Fulbright Program in 1946, immediately after World War II, to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges. Senator J. William Fulbright, sponsor of the legislation, saw it as a step toward building an alternative to armed conflict.
The Fulbright Program enables U.S. students, artists and other professionals to benefit from unique resources worldwide.
Each year the program allows Americans to study or conduct research in over 100 nations. It is funded by an annual Congressional appropriation and contributions from other participating countries.