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Faculty Publish and Speak about Research, Are Awarded Grants

Posted Jul. 21, 2014

The college takes enormous pride in the pioneering work of our faculty and students who are constantly creating, discovering and leading the discourse in their disciplines.  Recent research has examined refugee health, operating room safety and AIDS funding, among other topics.  Following are highlights:
 
In the May 2014 Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, Madhav P. Bhatta, PhD, and Melissa Zullo, PhD, both assistant professors of Epidemiology, along with doctoral student Sunita Shakya and recent MPH grad Lori Assad, published results of their community-based study assessing the prevalence of chronic diseases among 18- to 65-year-old Bhutanese refugee women resettled in Northeast Ohio.  The study found a substantial burden of several chronic conditions including diabetes, hypertension and overweight/obesity, especially among women over 40.  In a follow-up analysis published in the special migrant health issue of the online International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health on June 25, Bhatta, Shakya and Assad examined the socio-demographic and dietary factors associated with abdominal obesity and excess body weight in the same population.  Findings suggest the need for lifestyle and dietary change education programs to reduce the prevalence of excess body weight and abdominal obesity and their health consequences.
 
Bhatta and Shakya presented two papers at the North American Refugee Health Conference, June 19-21, in Rochester, New York.  Ohio is one of the top 10 states for refugee resettlement, with about one-third being children.  Major ethnic groups resettled in Ohio in past five years included Bhutanese, Burmese and Karen.  Health Status of Pediatric Refugees Resettled in Northeast Ohio, 2006 – 2012 discussed that the prevalence of various infectious conditions and malnutrition varied significantly by ethnicity.  Elevated Blood Lead Levels among Refugee Children Resettled in Northeast Ohio, 2006 – 2012 revealed that a significant proportion of children, especially males and those between the ages of three and six years, have elevated blood-lead levels.  This indicates the need for further studies to identify potential sources of lead exposure and to initiate effective public health interventions to mitigate continued exposure in this new, vulnerable and health-disparate pediatric population.
 
In the July 8 Journal of Rural Health, Bhatta and Lynette Phillips, PhD, assistant professor, Epidemiology, examined human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine awareness and uptake, as well as communication with a parent and/or a healthcare provider, among adolescents in an Appalachian Ohio county.  Despite a strong link between parental and healthcare provider communication and HPV vaccine uptake, levels of communication remain low.  Findings suggest the need for public health education programs to improve awareness, knowledge and HPV vaccine uptake.
 
Bhatta and colleagues published Assessment of High-Risk Human Papillomavirus Infections Using Clinician- and Self-Collected Cervical Sampling Methods in Rural Women from Far Western Nepal on June 30 in PLOS One.  High-risk HPV (HR-HPV) is a necessary cause of cervical cancer.  This was the first study to assess HR-HPV infections among rural women in Nepal, where cervical cancer rates are among the highest in South Asia.

Jeffrey S. Hallam
, PhD, chair of the Social & Behavioral Sciences Department, received two recent grants.  From the Mid-South Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center for Health Disparities Research, he is co-investigator on a study about connecting health with education in rural settings through school health councils.  The college will receive approximately $23,000 for the work.  For the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the college will receive $125,000 for facilitation of a System of Care Expansion Planning Grant for Stark County.  Hallam will aid development of a comprehensive strategic plan for improving, expanding and sustaining services provided through a system of care approach for children and youth with serious emotional disturbances and their families.
 
Hallam also was keynote speaker at the 2014 Akron General Scientific Session on June 4.  He spoke about results of a focus-group study of experiences and perceptions regarding the integration of wellness with traditional medical care among members of Akron General Health & Wellness Centers.  He also addressed promoting physical activity using social cognitive means.
 
State-based federal resource allocations for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention and treatment may be better aligned with HIV diagnosis and prevalence rates than previously reported, according to a new study conducted by Willie H. Oglesby, PhD, assistant professor of Health Policy & Management, published in AIDS Research & Therapy on June 6.  However, resource allocation for HIV prevention may be less aligned than funding for HIV treatment, signaling the need to reexamine state-based federal funding for HIV prevention.
 
Oglesby also published Do we still need Title X?  Perceptions of and Preferences for Federally Funded Family Planning Clinics in Reproductive Health on June 30.  Findings indicate that Title X-funded family planning clinics successfully reach populations in need of sexual and reproductive health services and suggest that these facilities can help play an important role in reducing disparities even after full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
 
Christopher J. Woolverton, PhD, professor of Environmental Health Sciences, and colleagues published The Role of the Liquid Crystalline State in the Bundling of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium Flagella, in Liquid Crystals, online ahead of print on May 15.  He also was recognized at the May 19 general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology for completing a five-year term as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education.
 
In addition, Woolverton has received $55,000 in two recent grants for research starting this summer.  The first study, sponsored by the city of Kent, is examining the population of mosquitoes there that carry West Nile virus.  MPH student Neeley Meyers is collaborating with Woolverton as they test the mosquitoes for RNA viruses using real-time polymerase chain reaction.  The second project is funded by an Akron startup venture and will elucidate the mechanism by which a new disinfection technology kills the most biocide-resistant bacteria.  MPH student Samantha Pecnik is working with Woolverton as they use confocal and electron microscopy techniques to “zoom in” on bacteria as they are killed.
 
Zullo and colleagues published their prospective study on safety culture in the gynecology robotics operating room in the April 25, 2014, issue of the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology.  Gynecologic robotic surgery can be a fast-paced environment requiring precise and coordinated teamwork.  A safe-surgery checklist specific to robotics surgery may impact the safety culture.  The purpose of this research was to measure the safety culture in the robotics surgery operating room pre- and post-implementation of a robotics surgery checklist.  Communication and collaboration in the gynecology robotics operating room is high between most positions; however, safety attitude responses are low overall.  No differences post-implementation and low response rates may highlight a lack of staff support.