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The OREI Behavioral Medicine Group is an informal intercollegiate, multidisciplinary team of researchers interested in behavioral aspects of obesity and related health problems. The group from multiple departments and colleges is headed by Dr. Sharon Tucker (UIHC and CON) with a leadership team of Drs. Barbara Baquero (CPH), Lucas Carr (CLAS), David Frisvold (TCOB), Ruth Grossmann (CON), and Helena Laroche (CCOM) lending their expertise in interventional research including community based research, nutrition, sedentary activity and physical activity, etc. The OREI Behavioral Medicine Group meets at least quarterly to network, build research partnerships and collaborations, review grants and papers, and discuss influencing obesity initiatives in the state of Iowa. Below are examples of the current research activities of the OREI Behavioral Medicine Group leadership team.
Assistant Professor, Community and Behavior Health/CPH
Dr. Baquero's research focuses on reducing health inequalities in obesity and chronic diseases through the understanding of the social, cultural and structural correlates of health and the implications for intervention implementation, all through community engaged research. Currently Dr. Baquero is conducting a pilot formative research study to explore the community-based social networks of Latinos in Iowa to determine natural social systems to implement lifestyle behavioral interventions. In addition, Dr. Baquero is a Co-Investigator and the Deputy Director of the Prevention Research for Rural Health, which mission is to promote the health among rural communities in Iowa. In collaboration with Dr. Katheleen Janz, Dr. Linda Snetselaar and Dr. Edith Parker, Dr. Baquero lead the design and implementation of the 2011 Ottumwa Community Health Assessment, which was a population based assessment of health behaviors, socio-economic and neighborhoods factors associated with quality of life. The findings from assessment will inform future interventions to prevent obesity and other chronic diseases in the community.
Assistant Professor, Health and Human Physiology/CLAS
Dr. Carr is conducting a worksite wellness intervention focused on reducing occupational sedentary behavior at American College Testing (ACT) in Iowa City, which was funded by the Healthier Workforce Center of Excellence at the University of Iowa. Dr. Carr, in conjunction with Dr. Sharon Tucker, is co-leading the development of a behavioral weight loss program for adolescent patients being treated at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital Cardio Metabolic Clinic. The program is being funded by a Steadman Excellence Award and will provide internship opportunities for students in Health Promotion and Nursing.
Assistant Professor, Economics/TCB
Dr. Frisvold’s research agenda explores the role for government policies to reduce childhood obesity. His projects include examining the influence of the expansion of the School Breakfast Program, examining the influence of changes in the federal reimbursement rate on the nutritional content of school meals, understanding the influence of soft drink taxes, and determining the impact of physical education policies on childhood obesity.
Associate Faculty, CON
Dr. Grossmann is collaborating with Dr. Charles Brenner, Co-Director of the OREI to identify novel biomarkers of nutritional interventions for obesity. These biomarkers would link mouse mechanistic studies with clinical outcomes in human subjects. Dr. Grossmann will use both global and targeted metabolomic methods to identify biomarkers of micronutrient status that may be used to personalize nutrition interventions.
Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine/CCOM
With the sponsorship of the OREI leadership, Dr. Laroche is developing a research collaboration with Dr. Brian Wansink, a national prominent investigator from Cornell University (Ithaca) on eating behavior. The current focus of this collaboration is on a working partnership with the University of Iowa Dining Service (Jill Irvin, Director) as a test site for innovative research to enhance healthy eating behavior in college students. Dr. Laroche is also partnering with community-based organizations in Des Moines on a family-based intervention to prevent childhood obesity in low-income families where one adult is already obese.
Senior Associate Director, Nursing Research & Evidence-Based Practice/CON
Dr. Tucker has cultivated a focus on working mothers and children, and is currently studying self-care activities and work-site interventions to promote health and wellness among nursing staff, with an emphasis on physical activity integrated into the daily routines. She also studies interventions to prevent and reduce child obesity, and is co-leading the development of a behavioral weight loss program for adolescent patients being treated at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital Cardio Metabolic Clinic. The program is being funded by a Steadman Excellence Award and will provide internship opportunities for students in Health Promotion and Nursing.