The Wisconsin Partnership Program’s Partnership Education and Research Committee awarded the following New Investigator Program grants in 2008:

Positron Emission Tomography Imaging of Tumor Angiogenesis

Weibo Cai, PhD, Radiology
Award: $90,000

The principal investigator aims to create new Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan markers that will allow radiologists to create personalized therapy to attack tumors. Cai wants to create molecular imaging agents that will target a protein important for cancer progression.

The new method will help identify patients who can benefit from a particular type of therapy, and guide the administration of the right drug at the right time. PET scans will show doctors whether the therapy is working. This "personalized medicine" approach will also have applications in diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

Genetic and Environmental Predictors of Serum Levels of 25-Hydroxyvitamin D

Corinne D Engelman, MSPH, PhD, Population Health Sciences
Award: $90,000

The principal investigator will use data from 300 people enrolled in the Survey of Health in Wisconsin (SHOW), which is also funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program, to check vitamin D levels of people of different skin colors and from different environments.

Vitamin D is critical for health, and low levels in the blood are associated with bone disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, and type 2 diabetes. Sunlight absorbed through the skin is an important source of vitamin D, yet there is little data on how skin color and genetics effect levels of vitamin D in the blood.

Computed Tomography (CT) with Reduced Radiation Dose Using Prior Image Constrained Compressed Sensing (PICCS) Reconstruction

Christopher J Francois, MD, Radiology
Award: $90,000

The principal investigator will test a technique invented at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health that could reduce the radiation dose needed for Computed Tomography (CT) by 90 percent or more.

While CT scans have revolutionized the practice of medicine in the past 40 years, there is growing concern over the radiation exposure to patients from these examinations. Since more than 60 million CT scans are given every year in the United States, the technique could improve health care for many people, especially coronary patients undergoing angiography and pediatric patients.

Evaluation of Cuidandome: A Communitywide Intervention to Promote Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening among Latinas

Ana P Martinez-Donate, PhD, Population Health Sciences
Award: $90,000

The principal investigator will study the effectiveness of Cuidándome, a community program that promotes breast and cervical (BCC) screening among Latinas in Dane County. Cuidándome combines small-group education, a media campaign, and cultural-competency training for health care providers.

This study will also estimate BCC screening rates among Latinas in Dane County and identify factors that contribute to Latinas' underuse of BCC preventive services. Results will shape future programs, with the goal of reducing BCC cases and deaths in this underserved population.