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University of Iowa News Release

June 5, 2006

UI Center To Focus On Therapeutics Use, Effectiveness Among Elderly

The University of Iowa has been named one of four academic institutions nationwide that will establish a research center aimed at advancing the best use of medications, medical devices and biological products.

Last April, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) announced awards totaling $16 million over the next five years to establish four new Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs). The centers' goal is to increase awareness of the benefits and risks of therapeutic products and translate research findings into improved health care.

The UI CERT will receive $4 million over five years. The center will focus on improving the safety and effectiveness of medication use among the elderly. Its activities will include identifying and resolving medication problems in the elderly; examining age disparities in chemotherapy treatments; studying age-related changes in patient decision-making and their effect on health outcomes; and testing a model program for physician-pharmacist teams to manage hypertensive patients, with particular attention to barriers to achieving and sustaining blood pressure control among the elderly.

The UI CERT will be comprised of researchers in medicine, public health, pharmacy and nursing. It also will include existing interdisciplinary research programs such as the UI Center on Aging; the Iowa Geriatric Education Program; the Veterans Affairs Iowa City Health Care System's Center for Research in the Implementation of Innovative Strategies in Practice (CRIISP); the Health Effectiveness Research Center in the College of Public Health; and the Center on Improving Medication Use in the Community in the College of Pharmacy.

Elizabeth Chrischilles, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology in the College of Public Health, is principal investigator and Gary Rosenthal, M.D., professor of internal medicine in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, will serve as co-principal investigator at the center.

"The UI's strength in interdisciplinary aging-related research makes this an attractive environment to fulfill the mission of the center, which is to conduct research and education dedicated to optimal therapeutics among older adults," Chrischilles said. "Clinical trials provided limited information about treatment effects in this age group, particularly among octogenarians who are a rapidly growing proportion of Iowans."

In addition to the UI, the new AHRQ-funded centers include Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey in New Brunswick; Baylor College of Medicine in Houston; and Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City. The five-year cooperative agreement grants expand the existing CERTs network from seven to 11 AHRQ-funded centers and one coordinating center. Each center will work collaboratively with AHRQ and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct research and provide education.

The CERTs program, which AHRQ administers in partnership with the FDA, was authorized by Congress in 1997 to examine the benefits, risks and cost-effectiveness of therapeutic products; educate patients, consumers, doctors, pharmacists and other clinical personnel; and improve quality of care while reducing needless costs, such as by increasing appropriate use of therapeutics and preventing adverse effects and their consequences.

More information on the CERTs and their activities is available at http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/certsovr.htm.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032, david-pedersen@uiowa.edu.