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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 20, 2003

UI Faculty Receive New Investigator Research Awards

Four University of Iowa faculty members have been awarded 2002-03 College of Public Health-College of Medicine New Investigator Research Awards. The awards assist newly appointed primary or joint faculty in the UI College of Public Health or the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver 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: Peter M. Cram, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine; N. Andrew Peterson, Ph.D., assistant professor of community and behavioral health; Brian J. Smith, Ph.D., assistant professor of biostatistics; and Ergun Y. Uc, M.D., assistant professor (clinical) of neurology.

"Each of these young investigators has identified an important public health concern and has proposed research that will help address these issues," said Leon Burmeister, Ph.D., associate dean of research and academic affairs for the UI College of Public Health. "The Colleges of Public Health and Medicine are impressed with the scientific potential of the awardees. We are very confident that meaningful contributions will result from each of the funded projects."

The award recipients' proposed research projects were chosen on the basis of scientific merit; relevance to the 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.

"Loss to Follow-Up and Quality of Care After Newly Diagnosed Osteoporosis by DEXA Scan"
Peter M. Cram
An estimated 10 million Americans have osteoporosis (thinning of the bones), placing them at increased risk for fractures. To screen for osteoporosis, dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans are used to measure bone density. Research suggests that a substantial percentage of patients with newly diagnosed osteoporosis by DEXA scan fail to receive any treatment. Furthermore, even if patients with osteoporosis do receive treatment, they may receive suboptimal therapy. The aim of this study is to collect pilot data to provide an accurate estimate of several measures related to the quality of management of patients with newly diagnosed osteoporosis.

"Organizational Empowerment and Health Promotion Potential of Faith Institutions in Underserved, Rural Communities"
N. Andrew Peterson

Studies show that rural residents experience higher rates of poor health on selected indicators and have less access to social services and health care than nonrural residents. It also has been found that faith institutions in rural communities often provide networks of social support that address unmet health and human services needs. This study will gather data from faith institutions in Keokuk County, Iowa, to explore whether organizational empowerment predicts potential to successfully adopt individually focused and environmentally focused health promotion strategies.

"Bayesian Models for Meta-Analysis: The Impact of Dietary Fat Intake on Prostate Cancer Risk"
Brian J. Smith

Individual studies have failed to provide a clear picture of the relationship between prostate cancer and dietary fat intake. While a few studies have found statistically significant positive effects for fat intake, many more have failed to show an effect. Thus, there continues to be debate over the relative importance of dietary fat intake in prostate cancer etiology. The goal of this project is to develop meta-analysis models for the purpose of pooling existing data to increase the overall power to detect an effect for fat intake. More specifically, the aim is to provide a more precise estimate of the risk of prostate cancer as a function of dietary fat intake.

"Predicting Driver Safety in Parkinson's Disease"
Ergun Y. Uc

Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that causes motor, cognitive and sleep disturbances, all of which can contribute to unsafe driving. The diagnosis of Parkinson's disease alone, however, is not a reliable criterion for determining fitness to drive. There is little consensus among health professionals and driving authorities about how to advise individuals with Parkinson's disease about driving. Results from this pilot study can lead to formation of clear guidelines and standardized simulated driving tests for individuals with Parkinson's disease.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

MEDIA CONTACT: Debra Venzke, 319-335-9647,

PHOTOS: Photos of the following researchers are available for downloading:
Peter Cram

Brian Smith

Ergun Uc