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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 9, 2008

UI Research Office announces staff changes

The University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research has named James Walker, formerly director of the UI Health Protection Office, the interim associate vice president for research-regulatory affairs effective Sept. 1, 2008.

Walker, Ph.D., succeeds Richard Hichwa, Ph.D., who had held this position since January 2007, when David Wynes left the UI. Hichwa will continue serving in his original capacity as associate vice president for research for biological, mathematical and physical sciences and additionally will be responsible for greater faculty participation in economic development.

"These appointments will help the university comply with increasingly stringent research standards, which is now Walker's purview, and expand its initiatives in the areas of interdisciplinary research, economic development and technology transfer, which draws on Hichwa's strengths," Jordan Cohen, interim vice president for research, said.

Walker's duties will include ensuring compliance in the areas of human subjects research, animal research, health protection, clinical trials, environmental health and safety, conflicts of interest and research misconduct.

Walker received his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1976 from the University of Kansas at the medical center in Kansas City, Kan., after which he conducted his postdoctoral studies in the Center for Environmental Toxicology in the Department of Chemistry at Vanderbilt University. In the late 1970s he became chief of both the Special Chemistry and Trace Organic Analysis section and Environmental Assessment Division at the University Hygienic Laboratory at the UI.

In 1982, as a certified industrial hygienist, Walker assumed a position in the UI's Department of Environmental Health and Safety and was responsible for developing university-wide compliance programs for facilities, research and hospital operations in response to rapidly expanding federal and state regulations covering the environmental and worker health and safety. His role in regulatory compliance continued when in 1991 he was appointed director of the Health Protection Office, whose mission is to develop programs and provide services to facilitate compliance in the areas of radiation safety, chemical safety, environmental safety, biological safety and occupational safety. These efforts require significant interaction with a wide range of state and federal health and environmental regulating entities.

In recent years the compliance assistance effort of his office had emphasized faculty and staff education, promoting performance rather that prescription. Most recent activities have been in the areas of radiation security, recombinant DNA technology, select agents, and bio-security, as well as environmental and chemical anti-terrorism regulations. In response to his work within the environmental and emergency preparedness arena, he was awarded the Board of Regents Staff Excellence Award in 2004.

Hichwa, a professor in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Physics and Astronomy, professor in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine Departments of Radiology and Radiation Oncology, and director of the UI Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Imaging Center, vice chair for research in radiology, earned a doctorate in medical physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981. During his 19 years at the UI, he has served on many research-related organizations including the UI Information Technology Advisory Committee, UI Governmental Relations Committee, UI Research Council (chair), internal review of the Division of Sponsored Programs, College of Medicine Research Advisory Council, Institutional Review Board and Medical Radiation Protection Committee. He also was a key university faculty representative in helping shape the UI's program in economic development following the implementation of the Battelle Report and the initiative of the Grow Iowa's Values fund.

For more than 10 years, he has worked closely with the Office of the Vice President for Research, for whom he has served as research integrity officer, conflict of interest officer and -- since 2006 -- associate vice president for research development for biological, mathematical and physical sciences.

Walker's interim salary is $153,300. Hichwa's salary is $185,640.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jordan Cohen, Office of the Vice President for Research, 319-335-2132; Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,; Writer: Stephen J. Pradarelli