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April 3, 2017

CDD uses tripartite mission to help with health equity

University of Iowa Health Care has a proud history of helping to ensure ALL Iowa’s citizens have a chance to lead healthy lives by alleviating health disparities. We work to identify and understand the differences in health outcomes and their causes among groups of people.

One example is our role as Iowa’s University Center for Excellence on Disabilities. Our Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD) is dedicated to improving the health and independence of people with disabilities.

Guided by the tripartite mission, CDD faculty and staff members provide health care, train and educate health professionals, conduct research, and create opportunities through other types of programs and services to help Iowans of all ages with disabilities achieve their goals.

  • Through the Iowa Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities program, the CDD trains future health professionals to provide culturally competent, family-centered, coordinated care. They also focus on improving services for children with special health care needs and their families.
  • Clinical services and direct community support, including training and consultation, help persons with disabilities lead healthy, productive lives. For instance, the program Money Follows the Person has transitioned 582 people with disabilities out of institutions to live and work in communities of their choice.
  • And finally, faculty and staff of the CDD participate in research and dissemination of the research findings, such as the recently published study on the experiences of people with disabilities transitioning from sheltered employment to jobs in their communities. Studies like this advance knowledge about health, wellness and social issues that affect persons with disabilities and provide opportunity for action.

Last month, the CDD put a bright light on its work celebrating Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month with the theme “Side by Side.” It was a good theme, because it reminds us all that the best way to make progress in our mission of serving the people of Iowa and beyond is to work together to eliminate health disparities and draw closer to the goal of health equity.

Stimulation improves schizophrenia-like problems

About 20 years ago, Nancy Andreasen, a nationally recognized expert on schizophrenia and brain imaging and a University of Iowa faculty member for more than 40 years, was among the first to suggest that the poor mental coordination seen in schizophrenia might be due to disruption of extended brain circuits involving the cerebellum and the frontal cortex. Krystal Parker, PhD, received training with Andreasen in schizophrenia research and subsequently joined the lab of Nandakumar Narayanan, MD, PhD, at the UI Carver College of Medicine where she set out to explicitly map these connections. In a new study, the UI researchers show that stimulating the cerebellum in rats with schizophrenia-like thinking problems normalizes brain activity in the frontal cortex and corrects the rats’ ability to estimate the passage of time—a cognitive deficit that is characteristic in people with schizophrenia. The UI study, which was published online in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, adds to the accumulating evidence that suggests cerebellar stimulation might help improve cognitive problems in patients with schizophrenia.

High-dose vitamin C well-tolerated in cancer trials

In a new study published online in the journal Cancer Cell, researchers with Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa report promising results from a phase 1 clinical trial testing high-dose vitamin C therapy in patients with the brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme and preliminary findings from a phase 2 trial in stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer. Using animal and cell-based experiments in collaboration with Bryan Allen, MD, PhD, assistant professor of radiation oncology, Douglas Spitz, PhD, and Garry Buettner, PhD, professors of radiation oncology and members of the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program at the UI, led the team’s efforts to investigate the underlying mechanisms of vitamin C’s cancer cell–killing effects. The findings indicate that a glitch in cancer cell metabolism disrupts iron levels in the tumor cells. The excess free iron further reacts with the high levels of vitamin C, generating hydrogen peroxide and other free radicals (reactive oxygen molecules) that can damage DNA, causing cell death directly or making the tumor cells more sensitive to damage from radiation and chemotherapy. This toxic effect is not seen in healthy cells where normal metabolism keeps the levels of hydrogen peroxide and free iron under control.

Pediatric Center in Cedar Rapids joins UI Health Care

Pediatric Center in Cedar Rapids has joined University of Iowa Health Care. Established in 1994, Pediatric Center is a general pediatric private practice with six board-certified pediatricians serving patients and families at two clinic locations in Cedar Rapids. On March 27, the names of both locations changed from Pediatric Center to University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. The Cedar Rapids pediatricians will become UI faculty members in the Division of Child and Community Health in the UI Stead Family Department of Pediatrics. They also will become members of UI Physicians. For families of current Pediatric Center patients, the transition will be seamless. Phone numbers at the Pediatric Center locations will remain the same, and the physicians will continue to see patients at their current facilities. For UI employees living in the Linn County area, we are excited to provide convenient, closer-to-home access to primary care for their families—part of our commitment to a statewide system of pediatric care. The Pediatric Center team also is excited about the opportunity to join UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital while continuing to care for their current patients and families. A list of FAQs is available on The Loop.

UI Specialty Pharmacy Services accredited

University of Iowa Specialty Pharmacy Services was recently accredited by the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission and The Joint Commission as a specialty pharmacy. The team watches the patient’s progress, monitors how well  medications are working, and makes sure refills are ordered on time. They routinely check in with patients and report any complications or adverse effects of the drugs to the prescribing physician.

Witte receives Making a Difference CEO Award

University of Iowa Health Care celebrated Social Work Month during March. This year’s theme was “Social Workers Stand Up.” The positive contributions made by social workers at UI Hospitals and Clinics include coordinating community services, offering comfort, and being a patient advocate. The Making a Difference program recognized Sue Witte, LMSW, the coordinator of the Family Support Program at UI Hospitals and Clinics. When a patient’s family needed her most, she stood up in a big way. An exc erpt of the nomination is below:

“There are those that are good at their job . . . there those that are great at their job . . . and then there are those who felt like part of our family after 48 hours. Please allow me to expound on the amazing professionalism, grace, and compassion shown to me and my family by Suzanne Witte in the Department of Social Service.”

Read the full nomination on The Loop.

Service Excellence training video now available

The video of the March 2017 Service Excellence training, “The Iowa Experience: Excellence Every Time,” is now available on The Point, Service Excellence Resources site. Questions? Email

Robert F. Ray Staff Scholarship applications due April 15

University of Iowa staff members who wish to begin or continue their undergraduate education can apply for funding support from the Robert F. Ray Staff Scholarship, offered through Distance and Online Education. . The recipient will be awarded $2,000 to cover the cost of valid educational expenses at the University of Iowa over the course of one year. Applicants must be employed by the university at least half-time, for not less than one year from the date of application, in a position classified as office and clerical, service, technical, or professional and scientific, and must remained employed by the university during the period of the award. While this award is not need-based, applicants must not be receiving tuition reimbursement or other grants (with the exception of staff tuition grants) in order to be considered. The application deadline is Saturday, April 15. Find the application or learn more at

Interested in health care simulation?

Attend one of the Simulation Center open forums on Monday, April 10, in the East Room (Elevator F, Level 8). Choose from three times: 7 to 9 a.m.; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; or 5 to 7 p.m. Contribute to the future of interprofessional health care education. Questions? Email Catherine Radzewich at

Executive Leadership Academy taking applications

The University of Iowa Health Care Executive Leadership Academy is now accepting applications for the 2017–2018 academy year. Applications are due Friday, April 28. The academy is targeted at current and high-potential leaders such as medical directors, nurse managers, research leaders, and administrators early in their career to gain skills to lead in an academic health care environment. Learn more at or email Holly Kolfenbach at

Event on antibiotic resistance is April 7

Karen Bush, PhD, professor of practice in the biotechnology program in the biology department at Indiana University, will deliver the keynote address at the Great Plains Emerging Infectious Diseases Conference. Her talk, “Antibiotic Resistance: Past, Present, and Future,” is from 4 to 4:50 p.m. Friday, April 7, at the College of Public Health Building, Callaghan Auditorium (N110). The event is free and open to the public.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in any program, please contact the individual listed in the event announcement in advance at their provided contact information.

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