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Release: Jan. 24, 2001

UI College of Public Health faculty members receive new investigator research awards

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Three members of the University of Iowa College of Public Health faculty have been awarded College of Public Health-College of Medicine New Investigator Research Awards. The awards, being presented for the first time in 2001, are intended to assist newly appointed primary or joint faculty in the College of Public Health or College of Medicine to advance their research activities. Each recipient will receive up to $10,000 of funding for independent research projects.

The recipients are: Rachel L. Anderson, Ph.D., assistant professor of health management and policy; Shannon P. Márquez, Ph.D., assistant professor of occupational and environmental health; and Kai Wang, Ph.D., assistant professor of biostatistics.

"These pilot grant awards recognize the tremendous promise and potential of young investigators working in the College of Public Health," said James A. Merchant, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the UI College of Public Health. "The work conducted in these projects will expand the scientific basis for the practice of public health and advance the very promising careers of these awardees, as well."

The award recipients were chosen on the basis of their proposed research projects' scientific merit, relevance to the UI College of Public Health mission, strategic plan and goals, and probability of attracting subsequent extramural research funding.

Following are descriptions of each of the winning research proposals:

Rachel L. Anderson -- "Adolescent Mental Health and Substance Abuse"

A growing number of adolescents in the child welfare system suffer serious emotional difficulties and substance abuse problems. In order to design appropriate assessment and preventive and integrated treatment services, it is critical to understand the needs of this population. This research project will examine the needs and resources for adolescents with serious emotional disturbance and substance abuse problems, focusing on adolescents and families served by the Iowa Department of Child Welfare.

Shannon P. Márquez -- "Identifying Environmental Health Disparities in Iowa Communities Using Community-Based Participatory Research and GIS Methods"

Evidence suggests that certain communities, especially those with low-income and minority populations, are burdened with a disproportionate share of hazardous environmental exposures with serious health consequences, yet have little access to quality health care. This research project will select a study community in Iowa through the use of demographic and geographic data, identify potential environmental health disparities in the selected community, and determine if it is feasible to address environmental justice issues using community-based participatory research methods.

Kai Wang -- "Linkage Analysis Under Linkage Disequilibrium and Disease Locus Heterogeneity"

Genetics offers the promise of better understanding and improved treatment for many human diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, autism and asthma. This project aims to expand the ability to find and understand genes for such diseases by developing a statistical method for handling two sets of complex data simultaneously.