Apr 11 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: Lead exposure from soil, breast cancer mortality, climate change, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows and grantees. Some recent examples:

Asthmapolis, founded and directed by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumnus David Van Sickle, PhD, MA, has secured a $5 million investment that will be used to expand operations and further enhance its product, the Milwaukee Business Journal  and Journal-Sentinel report. The company has engineered a GPS-enabled asthma inhaler called the Spiroscout, which sends a signal with the time and location to a remote server every time a patient uses it, allowing patients and providers to track and analyze the onset of asthma symptoms. Read more about Asthmapolis here and here.

Health & Society Scholar Sammy Zahran, PhD, is co-author of a study that finds that children in Detroit are being exposed to lead from an overlooked source: contaminated soil. Zahran and his team examined seasonal fluctuations in children’s blood lead levels and found that levels were highest in the summertime, when contaminated soil turns into airborne dust. The researchers were able to rule out exposure to lead-based paint as the main source of the contamination, NPR’s Shots Blog reports, because blood lead levels were lower in the winter, when children are more likely to be indoors.

A study from the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, which is directed by RWJF Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research recipient Edward W. Maibach, PhD, MPH, finds a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents think action should be taken to address climate change, United Press International reports. The New York Times Dot Earth Blog also reported on the findings.

CNBC spoke to RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus John Friedman, PhD, about a study he co-authored that finds the most effective, and cost-effective, way for a government to promote savings is through automatic saving plans. "We're finding that if you want to increase savings, you have to use passive policies, not active which rely on you going out and doing something," Friedman said.

RWJF Physician Faculty Scholars alumnus Deverick Anderson, MD, MPH, was interviewed by Scientific American about simple measures hospitals can take to prevent infections from a new strain of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) that is growing more dangerous and resistant to drugs.

Medpage Today [free registration] and Medical XPress report on a presentation by Health & Society Scholars alumna Candyce Kroenke, ScD, MPH, at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research about why black women have a higher risk of dying from breast cancer than white women. “It's still a mystery,” Kroenke told Medpage Today, but her research rules out differences by race in the genetic subtype of the disease as an explanation.

In the latest edition of his monthly column on the PBS NewsHour website, Investigator Award recipient Howard Markel, MD, PhD, FAAP, writes about the pediatrician and child psychiatrist who first documented the dangers of even the lowest forms of lead exposure.

“Technically the Secretary [of Health and Human Services] under the law has the right to make the decision,” Daniel Carpenter, PhD, told the New York Times about a judge's ruling that makes the most common "morning-after" pill available over the counter for all ages. “But there is other long-established law that says the decision is supposed to be based on the safety and efficacy of the drug.” Carpenter is an Investigator Award recipient and an alumnus of the Scholars in Health Policy Research program.

The Los Angeles Times cites research by Harold Pollack, PhD, MPP, that finds the percentage of low-income children on Supplemental Security Income has remained fairly stable since welfare reform was implemented in 1996. Pollack is an alumnus of the Scholars in Health Policy Research program and a recipient of an Investigator Award.

Jane Kirschling, RN, DNS, FAAN, an RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows alumna and president of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, spoke to INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine about her new role as dean of the University of Maryland School of Nursing.

The Association for Psychological Science featured two Health & Society Scholars in its April 2013 issue of The Observer: Courtney Cogburn, PhD, and Thomas Fuller-Rowell, PhD.

RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholars alumnus Jeffrey Kullgren, MD, MPH, continues to receive media coverage for a study he led that finds group-based employer incentives may produce more weight loss than individual rewards. Reuters reports on the findings.

Investigator Award recipient and RWJF Generalist Physician Faculty Scholars program alumnus Peter Ubel, MD, recently published two columns: one in Forbes about consumers’ understanding of health exchanges, and one in  The Atlantic about price transparency and health care costs. Read a post Ubel wrote for the RWJF Human Capital Blog about health insurance and the individual mandate.

Nurse.com profiled the accomplishments of RWJF RN Work Project principal Christine T. Kovner, PhD, RN, FAAN, for its “Pillars of Nursing” series.

Tags: Clinical Scholars, Executive Nurse Fellows, Generalist Physician Faculty Scholars, Health & Society Scholars, Human Capital News, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Media Coverage, Nurses and Nursing, Physician Faculty Scholars, RN Work Project, Research & Analysis, Scholars in Health Policy Research