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Release: May 17, 1999

UI pediatrician receives Robert Wood Johnson Foundation award

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Donna M. D'Alessandro, M.D., University of Iowa assistant professor of pediatrics, has been awarded a grant of nearly $240,000 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The four-year grant will support her participation in the foundation's Generalist Physician Faculty Scholarship Program.

D'Alessandro is the first UI physician to be invited into the program, which promotes leadership in research by outstanding generalist physicians in medical schools while they maintain their clinical and teaching responsibilities. The award will provide support for D'Alessandro's project to create a digital online library of authoritative and current general pediatric information.

"I'm very excited that the grant will help me take all the things I've learned about organizing quality health care information on the Internet and apply them to general pediatrics," D'Alessandro said. "I want to put together a useful on-line medical reference and health promotion tool for professional providers as well as patients and their families."

D'Alessandro's web site -- -- served as the prototype for her current effort.

As part of the award, D'Alessandro will work with a UI faculty mentor, Michael W. Peterson, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine, and other UI physicians in pediatrics, internal medicine and family medicine. She will also receive guidance from an external mentor, Carole L. Bland, Ph.D., professor of family practice and community health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, who serves on a national advisory group of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In addition to caring for patients at the UI, D'Alessandro is director of evaluation for the UI Virtual Hospital, Virtual Children's Hospital and Virtual Naval Hospital. Her research focuses on medical informatics, or the use of computers in aiding medical practice, research and education.

D'Alessandro received her medical degree from Wayne State University. She completed a residency in pediatrics at Northwestern University and a fellowship in general academic pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's mission is to improve the health and health care of all Americans. Over the past 25 years the foundation has awarded more than $2.6 billion to organizations and institutions nationwide that are working on solutions to this country's health care problems.