The Wisconsin Partnership Program’s Partnership Education and Research Committee awarded the following New Investigator Program grants in 2007:

Falls Risk Detection and Gait Instabilities in Older Adults

Bryan Heiderscheit, PhD, Orthopedics and Rehabilitation
Award: $100,000 over two years

About 30 percent of adults over 65 years old fall each year. In Wisconsin alone, annual medical care costs due to fall-related injuries were reported at $96 million. Arguably of greater concern, Wisconsin's death rate due to falls is twice the national average. This project will seek to develop an accurate measure of falls risk status among older adults, which is easily used in the clinics. This measure will improve the identification of individuals at risk of falling and facilitate the proper treatment interventions.

Reconstructing HIV Sequence Histories to Identify Potent Immune Responses

David O'Connor, PhD, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Award: $99,620 over two years

More than 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, including nearly 6,000 in Wisconsin. Developing an effective vaccine to prevent HIV transmission is an urgent public health priority. Vaccine strategies that work against other diseases have largely failed against HIV. The proposal's goal is to use virus archived within long-lived cells to pinpoint highly potent immune responses present only during the first weeks of an infection, which could be included in future HIV vaccines.

A New Diagnostic Test to Monitor Regression and Recurrence of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer

Manish Patankar, PhD, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Award: $98,738 over two years

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States; about 300 women die from epithelial ovarian cancer in Wisconsin each year. There is a high mortality associated with this disease because in most women, the cancer is detected in advanced stages when treatment options are limited. Even after the bulk of the tumor is removed by surgery and chemotherapy, the disease generally recurs.

This proposal seeks to develop a novel diagnostic test that will help identify disease recurrence at a much earlier stage than currently possible. Successful development of such a test will lead to more efficient treatment of recurring ovarian cancer.

Metabolic Control of Metastasis by a Master Regulator of Neurogenesis: Molecular Mechanisms and Therapeutics

Avtar Roopra, PhD, Neurology
Award: $99,990 over two years

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the female population of Wisconsin and ranks as the second most common cause of cancer mortality. Greater than 90 percent of breast cancer mortalities are due to metastasis of the primary tumor. A therapeutic regimen that successfully prevents metastasis has the potential to save about 800 lives per year in Wisconsin. This proposal will test the hypothesis that simply regulating sugar metabolism and diet can be used to control metastasis.

Probiotics for Prevention of Infection by Multiresistant Bacteria

Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD, Medicine
Award: $100,000 over two years

Multidrug-resistant bacteria are a major cause of severe infections in health care institutions in the United States, and their containment has been deemed a public health priority. This proposal will study the use of a probiotic (dietary supplement) preparation in hospitalized patients as a new means of preventing infection by drug-resistant bacteria.

The Relationship between Asthma and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) - A Pilot Study of the Effects of Treatment for Comorbid OSA in Patients with Asthma

Mihaela Teodorescu, MD, Medicine
Award: $99,995 over two years

Asthma represents a significant public health burden. In 2002, almost 80 percent of the 450,000 people with asthma in Wisconsin reported symptoms in the prior 30 days. Many asthmatic individuals report sleep disturbances and an unexpectedly high prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) was found in patients with severe asthma.

Furthermore, treatment of OSA with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) improved asthma control. This project will study prevalence and predictors of OSA symptoms in asthma patients, and the impact of treatment with CPAP for OSA on asthma control, sleep and quality of life, and health resources use.