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Research Spotlight

Kirk Hevener, Pharm.D., Ph.D.

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) has recently chosen Idaho State University Pharmacy professor Kirk Hevener, Pharm.D., Ph.D., for a New Investigator Award. The award includes a $10,000 pilot grant as well as a presentation of his research at the annual AACP meeting in July. Nationally, twelve individuals were chosen to receive the award.

Pilot grants are traditionally awarded to junior faculty and allow the opportunity to, "take good ideas and turn them into good research projects," said Hevener. The award will make Dr. Hevener's research eligible for larger grants once his project is off the ground. "I'm happy to get it. It's my first award since coming to ISU. I'm glad they had confidence in my research to fund it," said Hevener.

Dr. Hevener is the newest faculty to join the Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences Department at the Skaggs Pharmacy Complex at the ISU Meridian Health Science Center. "Dr. Hevener is part of a small group of energetic new faculty members engaged in structural biology and drug discovery research. He is a valuable addition to the College and plays a pivotal role in taking the College's research in a new direction," said Dana Diedrich, chair of the department.

Dr. Hevener uses protein crystallography in the wet-lab to solve the structures of his targets and then uses computer-aided modeling to identify new compounds that can inhibit these targets as drug candidates. His research has focused on infectious diseases of the oral cavity such as periodontal disease as well as infectious diseases of the lower bowel such as C. difficile colitis.

His project will concentrate on infections of the gut and lower bowl especially as a result of a hospital stay. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Illness from C. difficile most commonly affects older adults in hospitals or in long-term care facilities and typically occurs after use of antibiotic medications." According to Dr. Hevener's abstract, "C.difficile resistant drugs cause infections resulting in an estimated 14,000 deaths per year and a national burden in excess of 3$ billion annually."

According to one reviewer for the grant, "This is a highly interesting project that focuses on an unmet need for inhibitors against C. difficile." Dr. Hevener comes to Idaho from postdoctoral work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He received both a Pharm.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee. According to Dean Paul Cady, "Dr. Hevener is a wonderful addition to our faculty and has everything it takes to be a successful researcher."



The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Bureau of Community and Environmental Health, Idaho Oral Health Program has awarded the Idaho State University Public Health Program $70, 887 a help design and implement a surveillance and evaluation system for the first phase of a five year CDC funded program to improve oral health and access to oral health care in Idaho. Dr. Elizabeth Fore, Chair of the ISU Division of Health Sciences Public Health Program, is leading a team that includes Dr. Monica Mispirata of the Public Health Program; Dr.s Neill Piland , Cynthia Kelchner, Institute of Rural Health.

The ISU Public Health Team is working closely with evaluation and surveillance specialists at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) to build the evaluation capacity of the State Oral Health program. Along with the IDHW Oral Health Program, ISU will develop, implement, and maintain a surveillance plan. The ISU team will also help establish a state oral and craniofacial health surveillance system to collect, analyze, monitor, report and disseminate data and information.

A major component of the project will be to implement an environmental scan assessing internal and external influences affecting the advancement of state oral health objectives. Assessment includes state demographics, insurance practices, reimbursement rates, dental workforce, accessibility of preventive oral health care, political environment, budget environment, breadth and depth of oral health champions and stakeholders, media markets and trends, and policies and practices to create opportunities or barriers to implementing a state oral health program.


Diabetes and Hypertension Assessment and Evaluation Project

The Institute of Rural Health, ISU Public Health Program and the Idaho Center for Health Research were notified by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program that the Department is awarding a $225,000 contract to conduct a Diabetes and Hypertension Assessment and Evaluation project as a portion of a CDC funded project to assess the status of chronic disease care and prevention in Idaho and design and implement methods for improvement and elevation of health status. The ISU Research and Evaluation Team is being guided by Dr.s Neill Piland and Cynthia Kelchner of the Institute of Rural Health; Dr. Elizabeth Fore of the Public Health Program; Dr. Rex Force, Idaho Center for Health Research; and Dr. Cara Liday, School of Pharmacy.

The initial phase of this project will be performed over a 6 month period ending June 30, 2014. The focus on diabetes and hypertension is particularly warranted since these are not only high impact conditions but also are sentinel risk factors for a very broad array of life threatening, quality of life reducing and exceptionally high cost diseases and conditions. Such indicators are important and can be detected in public health and community health settings as well as in medical practice settings. This project will specify critical elements for a comprehensive system designed to maximize the effectiveness of early detection, prevention and treatment. Implementation and evaluation of elements and processes specified in the National Diabetes Prevention Program disseminated through Certified Diabetes Education Centers and Diabetes Self-Management Education programs and protocols are avenues to effective and cost effective community and clinical hypertension and diabetes interventions. Integration of the evidence based program elements into state of the art practice patterns will depend on enhanced clinical and effectiveness information derived from Electronic Health Records. A major segment of the study involves a comprehensive assessment of primary care provider practice patterns through a statewide survey and information synthesis.

The research team includes the services of Resolution Research, Inc., a highly respected professional survey research firm with specific domain experience in diabetes and heart disease survey methodology, has extensive experience in evaluation research addressing prevention, health promotion, epidemiology, community health and delivery of healthcare services. The ISU Division of Health Sciences team along with IDHW will closely coordinate the design and performance of the Primary Care Provider and Certifies Diabetes Education Center Surveys. They will direct the development or survey methodologies with the professionals at Resolution Research to maximize survey response rates; manage descriptive data and perform data analysis and reporting of results.


Mary A. Nies, Ph.D, RN, FAAN, FAAHB., Dean School of Nursing, Division of Health Sciences and Professor, was recently awarded a $54,190 grant from the Mountain West Research Consortium Clinical Translational Research - Infrastructure Network (CTR-IN) for a pilot study entitled Spatial Analysis of Census Data to Evaluate Obese Persons and Their Environment (Scope).

The objective of this research grant is to utilize Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to identify and couple Geo spatial data elements with the built environment and determine the relationship to obesity for individuals in rural and urban areas.

Principal Investigator: Mary A. Nies, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAAHB

Co-Investigators: Rex W. Force, Pharm.D., Teri Peterson, Ed.D., John Holmes, Pharm.D., Keith Weber, M.S.,.

Spatial and Census Data to Evaluate Obese Persons and their Environment (SCOPE)

Abstract of Project

In southeast Idaho, approximately 30% of the population are considered obese, a condition which significantly increases chronic disease burden including diabetes and cardiovascular illness. One of the best methods to prevent obesity and resultant chronic illness is providing access to environments where physical activity can occur and a healthy lifestyle is fostered. The purpose of SCOPE is to identify and couple geospatial data elements necessary to evaluate the built environment (e.g. walking trails, parks, sidewalks as well as food sources such as supermarkets and fast food restaurants) and its relationship to obesity in rural and urban areas of southeast Idaho. Geospatial data will be coupled with electronic medical records (EMR) of de-identified individuals and will be aggregated to the census block level, and used to study factors that influence the health of residents of these communities. EMR data will be obtained from a multi-site federally qualified community health center that serves seven rural and urban communities in southeast Idaho; all data will be handled in compliance with HIPAA. We will perform a multivariate geostatistical analysis of body mass index (BMI) with both demographic and geospatial data to examine the factors associated with obesity.

The findings of SCOPE will provide needed pilot data for submission of a larger grant research project for external funding such as PA-11-105 and PA-11-327, and interdisciplinary publications and presentations. Additionally, this line of research will inform decision making regarding the influence of the built environment on obesity at the neighborhood, community, state and regional level.

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