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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 16, 2009

New Investigator Research Award recipients announced

Two University of Iowa faculty members have been awarded 2008-09 College of Public Health-Carver College of Medicine New Investigator Research Awards. The awards assist newly appointed primary or joint faculty in the College of Public Health or the 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 Dawei Liu, Ph.D., (photo, left) assistant professor of biostatistics, and Ryan Carnahan, Pharm. D., (photo, right) clinical assistant professor of epidemiology.

"The Colleges of Public Health and Medicine are impressed with the scientific potential offered by both of these young investigators," said Leon Burmeister, Ph.D., associate dean of research and academic affairs for the UI College of Public Health. "We are very confident meaningful contributions that support our college's public health mission will result from each of these 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:

--Dawei Liu, "A Joint Modeling of Correlated Recurrent and Terminal Events with Multivariate Frailty in the Analysis of Driving Safety Data in Patients with Parkinson's Disease."

Due to the complexity of Parkinson's disease, it is not clear what and how risk factors affect driving safety. Liu's project will build on past research to develop a joint modeling framework that simultaneously models potentially correlated driving outcomes among Parkinson's patients. Under this framework, the analysis will try to explore relationships between crash, citation and driving cessation and identify risk factors associated with these outcomes.

--Ryan Carnahan, "Anticholinergic Use Among Veterans Affairs Nursing Home Residents with Dementia: Prevalence, Correlates, and Relationship to Antipsychotic Prescribing."

Anticholinergic medications can worsen cognition and increase psychotic and aggressive symptoms in Alzheimer's disease patients, yet they are commonly prescribed. Psychosis and aggression in dementia are often treated with antipsychotics, but the use of these drugs in dementia patients increases risks of mortality and other adverse effects. One way to reduce antipsychotic use is to eliminate avoidable causes of aggression and psychosis such as anticholinergics. Carnahan's research will describe anticholinergic use and examine it as a risk factor for antipsychotic prescribing in elders with dementia in hopes that medication safety and outcomes for these patients can be improved.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Hannah Fletcher, 319-384-4277,