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University of Iowa News Release

July 23, 2004

Four UI Professors Win Grants From Obermann Center For Studies Of Children

Four University of Iowa researchers have won grants from the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies for four projects studying children and their families. These Center for Advanced Studies Spelman Rockefeller (CASSPR) Grants, totaling more than $30,000, are supported by the UI Laura Spelman Rockefeller Fund and by the UI Office of the Vice President for Research.

This year's recipients are: Amy C. Butler, associate professor of social work in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; John Northup, professor of psychological and quantitative foundations in the College of Education; and John P. Lawrence, clinical associate professor of surgery, and Brad Van Voorhis, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, both in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

Butler's project, "Families with Children Headed by Same-Sex Couples: Trends Over Time, Effect of Public Policy, and Well-being of Children," will be the first nationally representative study of families headed by same-sex couples. The study will estimate the incidence of such families and changes in the number of these families since 1984, compare the demographic characteristics, economic well-being, child care arrangements, and health care coverage of these families with those of other family types, and examine the effect of social policies on the well-being of these families.

Lawrence's project, "The Role of Toll-like Receptors and C-type Lectins in Visceral Leishmaniasis Infections," will study the immune system response to a type of infection endemic in more than 60 countries. New cases of the infection, visceral leishmaniasis (VL), are most common in rural areas of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Brazil and Sudan, countries that have in common impoverished populations with poor access to health care. Increasing understanding of how these infections are processed by the immune system may allow for improved treatment or vaccine development.

Northup's project, "Innovative Behavior Therapy for Young Children With a Diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder," will analyze three emerging behavioral treatment procedures that have shown promising results when used with behavior problems similar to ADHD. These procedures include teaching delay to gratification or self-control, teaching children to employ available reinforcement and correspondence training. Most research on these treatments has been conceptual and not applied in practice and no studies have been done on the effectiveness of including these treatments as part of a package systematically tailored to best address the child's individual needs. Northup will create individual treatment plans including these procedures, to measure their effectiveness for children with ADHD.

Van Voorhis' project, "Helping Build Families-One Healthy Baby at a Time," will study the effects of education about risks of multiple gestations on the attitudes and behaviors of women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Multiple births are high-risk pregnancies, yet previous research has found that many couples undergoing IVF view twins as the "most desired" outcome of the treatment. Van Voorhis will establish the baseline knowledge and attitudes about multiple gestations among IVF patients and then study whether education about risks changes knowledge and attitudes. He will also study whether education results in changes in behavior regarding the number of embryos transferred in an IVF cycle.

Many CASSPR grants are intended to support the early stages of research projects so that researchers can cull enough data to be competitive when seeking funds from external granting agencies like the National Institutes of Health and others. Jay Semel, director of the Obermann Center, said that since its inception the CASSPR program has resulted in numerous scholarly publications as well as close to $18 million in external grants.

Most recently, CASSPR recipients have gone on to win grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Recent publications growing from CASSPR-supported research have focused on children and risk-taking, on teaching story-telling techniques to troubled young women to help them solve problems, and on measuring physical activity in young children.

Local community and professional groups who wish to invite researchers to speak at their meetings about completed projects should contact the Obermann Center at (319) 335-4034.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, mary-kenyon@uiowa.edu; Program: Jay Semel, 319-335-4034