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The Healthy Dedicated African American Dad Microbiota Study

Research Team

Wrenetha Julion, Principal Investigator, Rush CON

Ali Keshavarzian, Co-Investigator, Rush Medical College

Louis Fogg, Co-Investigator, Rush CON

Jen’nea Sumo, Co-Investigator, Rush CON

Award Period

07/01/17 – 12/01/18

Funding Source

Rush College of Nursing Faculty Pilot Grant


This proposal requests support for a study to examine the microbiota of African American (AA) non-resident fathers participating in a randomized trial of fatherhood interventions. The benefits of positive father involvement (PFI) to children’s emotional, social and developmental wellbeing are well known. However, it is equally important that fathers themselves are healthy so that they can optimally care for their children. Dysbiosis in the microbiota can impact the physical and psychological wellbeing of fathers and subsequently influence parenting behaviors. Recent literature details barriers and facilitators to PFI; nevertheless, since we know so little about the microbiota of fathers, it is possible that current efforts to promote PFI may miss the mark. In light of the significant numbers of AA children who live apart from their biological fathers, fatherhood research in this context is particularly warranted. Therefore, the purpose of this feasibility study is to describe the composition and diversity of microbiota in a historical cohort of 50 participants in a fatherhood intervention study. Fathers will be recruited via letters mailed to current study participants. This descriptive relational correlational study will collect microbiota data and analyze 16SrRNA biomarkers to determine microbiota composition and diversity in relation to fathers’ age, BMI, circadian chronotype, dietary intake, lifestyle, racial stress and resilience. We seek to determine study feasibility (recruitment, enrollment and protocol adherence), and estimate preliminary effect sizes to develop a protocol that is suitable for a larger RCT that examines gut microbiota in AA nonresident fathers. This research aligns with the NIH and Healthy People 2020 goals to foster innovative research that can achieve health equity, eliminate disparities and improve health for all groups.