Jen’nea Sumo

In Funded Scholars



Assistant Professor
Rush University Medical Center, College of Nursing

Professional Bio

Dr. Jen’nea Sumo is an assistant professor at Rush University Medical Center in the College of Nursing. She completed her doctorate in nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her doctoral work focused on garnering a fuller understanding of the social support given by grandparent caregivers to their adolescent parenting children. Her doctoral study demonstrated the importance of conducting research to evaluate the needs of grandmother caregivers and extended prior research beyond its almost exclusive focus on grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren. Currently, Dr. Sumo is a co-project director for a 4-year NIH/NINR funded R01 randomized controlled trial. Her current role has afforded her the opportunity to oversee community engagement, recruitment, and data collection efforts. Her role as a co-project director has also provided valuable experience in intervention research and bolstered her capacity for conducting intervention research with grandparent caregiver populations. Additionally, she had the honor of attending the National Institute of Nursing Research’s Summer Genetics Institute where she was encouraged to explore epigenetic influences on the health and well-being of parental caregivers and their families. As a result of her experiences, Dr. Sumo endeavors to conduct research that has the potential to positively influence communities and impact vulnerable families across generations. Her current research examines individual, environmental, and social factors that influence the health and well-being of grandparent caregivers. Knowledge gained from this research will guide future intervention development, implementation, and evaluation.

Project Description

Grandparent caregivers are at increased risk of poorer health and reduction in health promoting behaviors compared to non-caregiving adults. Dr. Sumo’s project will use data from the Chicago Community Adult Health Study to investigate the relationship between determinants of health and health outcomes for grandparent caregivers as compared to other non-caregiving adults. The aims of this project are: 1) to determine if grandparent caregivers differ from similarly aged, non-caregiving adults on social determinants of health and health outcomes; 2) examine how the social determinants of health relate to health outcomes while controlling for grandparent caregiver status and demographics; and 3) to examine the mediating effects of social determinants of health on the relationship between caregiving status and health outcomes.

Why did you apply to New Connections

I applied for the New Connections program to expand my professional network and interact with peers and senior researchers who have similar interests in advancing science through research. Additionally, New Connections offers training and research opportunities that will assist me in building a long-term program of research aimed at developing, implementing, and evaluating effective programming for grandparent caregivers and their families.

Research Interests

Dr. Sumo’s research interests are centered on the health of the community. She endeavors to support community health through advancing the health and well-being of community members, specifically grandparent caregivers. Dr. Sumo is interested in understanding and intervening to support the biological, behavioral, and environmental factors that can positively impact the lives of grandparent caregivers and their families by considering the impact of social determinants of health..


Sumo, J., Wilbur, J., Julion, W., Buchholz, S. & Schoeny, M. (2017). Interventions to improve  grandparent caregivers’ mental and physical health: An integrative review. Western Journal of Nursing Research,1-29. doi:10.1177/0193945917705376

Julion, W. A., Sumo, J., Bounds, D. T., Breitenstein, S. M., Schoeny, M., Gross, D., & Fogg, L. (2016). Study protocol for a randomized clinical trial of a fatherhood intervention for African American non-resident fathers: Can we improve father and child outcomes? Contemporary Clinical Trials, 49, 29-39.s.

Sumo, J., Dancy, B., Julion, W., & Wilbur, J. (2015) Rationales  for support that African American grandmothers provide to their children who are parenting adolescents, The Journal of School Nursing.1-9. doi: 10.1177/1059840515572026

The Details
  • New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
  • Award Year: 2018
  • RWJF Team/Portfolio: Making Health a Shared Value
  • Project Name: Social Determinants of Health’s Impact on Grandparent Caregivers’ Health Outcomes

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