Below are activities in the school during 2014. For news items, including press releases and official announcements, please visit the KU Medical Center Communications Office news.
An assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy Education has received a Frontiers Trail Blazer Award.
Lauren Little, Ph.D., is collaborating with Cary Savage, director of the Center for Health Behavior Neuroscience, on a project titled, “Neural Mechanisms of Gustatory Processing in Autism.” The study uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at the differences between how adolescents with autism spectrum disorders process images of food versus adolescents with typical development.
Little says they are also looking at how behavioral responses to sensory stimuli align with neural responses.
Little came to the KU Department of Occupational Therapy last July after doing her post-doctorate work at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where she received her doctorate in 2012. Little received her master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Frontiers awards up to $5,000 to investigators to support clinical and translational research.
Jason Rucker, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, has had little trouble keeping busy the past few weeks.
Rucker, a member of the Georgia Holland Health Exercise and Aging Laboratory, was the recipient of the Neurology Section's Post-Professional Student Research Award at the annual Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association in early February in Las Vegas. The neurology section was one of the largest with more than 200 abstracts submitted for poster and platform presentations.
In addition to having his work selected as the best abstract by a post-professional student, Rucker also earned a prestigious spot on the platform at the conference for his presentation on Feb. 5.
"It's really a tremendous honor to receive this award and be given the opportunity to present my research on the national stage," Rucker says. "Along with receiving an honors designation at my (dissertation) defense, this certainly helped validate all of the time and effort that went into my dissertation."
On Jan. 30, Rucker successfully defended his dissertation, "Multi-tasking, Executive Function and Functional Abilities in Older Adults with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus," with honors. Rucker received his Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology from Kansas State University and his Master of Science degree in physical therapy in 2002 from the University of Kansas.
"In addition to continuing in my faculty role as an instructor and clinician, I'd really like to use my dissertation work as a stepping stone to expand my research interests," Rucker says. "I'm very interested in exploring the relationship between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, and examining how physical activity and exercise influence multi-tasking and other cognitive functions in these and other populations."
Three members of the School of Health Professions are the principle investigators on projects awarded pilot grants by Frontiers: The Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.
The 2014 Pilot and Collaborative Studies recipients will each receive $20,000 to fund beginning-stage research projects. Frontiers, which partnered with organizations and units to provide the funding, made the announcement in early February. (Full listing of 2014 Frontiers grants)
Jeanine Goetz, an assistant professor in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, received funding from Frontiers and the KU Medical Center Research Institute for her work titled, "Sensible Eating: A Food Security Enhancement Intervention Tailored to Improve Diet Quality and Reduce Weight Fluctuations Among Food Insecure Individuals."
Jill Hamilton-Reeves, an assistant professor in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, received funding from Frontiers for her work titled, "Caloric Restriction to Reduce Prostate Cancer Risk."
Frontiers funded research by Jeff Searl, associate professor in the Department of Hearing and Speech Education. His work is titled, "Articulatory Contact Pressure During Speech by Individuals with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis."
Jeff Radel, an associate professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy Education, was part of a research team that also received funding. Michael Rippee, M.D., is the principle investigator on a project titled, "Evaluating Magnetic Resource Spectroscopy (MRS) as an Aid in Predicting Recovery from Persistent Post-Concussion Symptoms," that is being funded by Frontiers.
Jessie M. Huisinga, an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science and a senior scientist at the Landon Center on Aging, has been awarded a research grant by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Huisinga's research − titled "Identification of Gait and Balance Deficits in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis Using Wireless Sensors" — targets the lack of accurate, portable ways of measuring walking and balance for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Huisinga plans to use wireless sensors to determine the most sensitive measures for detecting walking and balance deficits and abnormal postural responses associated with the disease.
In order to treat people with MS, Huisinga says, it is important to have assessment tools that are valid, reliable and specific to the patients so that researchers and clinicians can measure what is wrong and whether the treatments are effective. The outcome measures will be tested over an 18-month period to determine how sensitive the measures are in gauging changes in mobility and balance in persons with MS. If successful, the study's findings will have implications for the development of treatments for walking and balance problems in patients with multiple sclerosis.
Huisinga has worked at the University of Kansas Medical Center since March 2012.
A clinical instructor working with the departments of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science at both the University of Kansas and Rockhurst University has been awarded the 2013 Kathy Johnson Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award.
Martin Dolphino, DPT, OCS, CMPT, has worked with KU's Department of Physical Therapy for more than 10 years as a clinical instructor and guest lecturer. Dolphino serves as a mentor to many in the field of physical therapy. As part of his teaching responsibilities, Dolphino spends six months each year with six doctor of physical therapy students from KU and another six months with students from Rockhurst University. (More)
Elizabeth Markowitz, third-year master of occupational therapy (MOT) student, and Anna Keeney, second-year MOT student, each received $5,000 awards during a presentation in January at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Both students have 4.0 grade point averages and are involved in multiple community and student activities.
"These two students exemplified the criteria of outstanding occupational therapy graduate student to the faculty who make these choices," says Winnie Dunn, professor and chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy Education.
Markowitz grew up in Overland Park, Kan., attended Shawnee Mission South High School and earned a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Texas-Arlington. She moved back to Kansas upon graduation to fulfill a lifelong dream of being a Jayhawk and says she has found her passion as an occupational therapist.
"The Kitty Reed Scholarship takes a huge load off financially, but mostly it reminds me that all the sweat was worth it – I am going to be an occupational therapist," Markowitz says. "Thank you, Kitty, for this amazing support and encouragement!" (More)
KU speech-language pathology student brings interventions to son, Navajo and Acoma tribes. Story at ASHA.org