Investigator Spotlights

Dartmouth researchers were awarded $7.7 million in new and competing awards in March. Here, Dartmouth Now takes a look at projects ranging from breast cancer screening, to retirement analysis, to the engineering of brain probes.

View the complete list of awards, as reported by the Office of Sponsored Projects, at the bottom of this page.

Professor Solomon Diamond ’97, Thayer ’98, is working on the seventh generation of his head probe prototype. (photo by John Sherman/courtesy of Thayer School of Engineering)

Solomon Diamond ’97, Thayer ’98, assistant professor of engineering, Thayer School of Engineering

Sponsoring agency: Rogue Research Inc.

Project: “Head Probe for Combined Near-Infrared Spectroscopy and Electroencephalography”

Probing ahead: In 2000, while he was in graduate school, Diamond began thinking about ways to improve the interface for scalp-based neuroimaging technology, also known as head probes. Fast-forward 12 years, and Diamond is now working on the seventh generation of his head probe prototype—a noninvasive device that will have the ability to simultaneously measure both the neural and vascular dynamics in the brain—a relationship referred to as “neurovascular coupling.”

Impact: Compared to other neuroimaging technologies, Diamond’s head probe can be used to study the brain at a lower cost, but still collects high-value data. Patient comfort is also one of the key components of the design. The ability to study neurovascular coupling with the probe is the device’s most compelling attribute because it can serve as a tool to provide a new understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, cerebrovascular disease, and stroke. “Assessment of neurovascular coupling may help with early diagnosis and monitoring the brain’s dynamic response to new therapies that are currently in development by other labs around the world,” says Diamond.

Teamwork: Diamond is collaborating with Assistant Professor Erik Kobylarz and Associate Professor Tim Lukovits, both in neurology, at the Geisel School of Medicine.

Tracy Onega, an assistant professor of community and family medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine, is considering the risks of breast cancer screenings and examining the accessibility of such screenings for minority and underserved populations. (photo courtesy of Tracy Onega)

Tracy Onega, assistant professor of community and family medicine, Geisel School of Medicine; Norris Cotton Cancer Center, and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice

Sponsoring agency: National Cancer Institute (NCI)

Project: “Risk-Based Breast Cancer Screening in Community Settings”

Improving strategies: In addition to her role at Dartmouth, Onega is also the director of the New Hampshire Mammography Network, positioning her on the ground floor of breast cancer screening research. Onega’s current project considers the risks of breast cancer screenings and examines the accessibility of such screenings for minority and underserved populations. “As breast cancer risk assessment becomes more personalized and guidelines for the use of advanced technologies are refined and disseminated, the need to evaluate effective use of these technologies in diverse populations grows,” says Onega.

Overarching theme: Part of a five-year multi-project National Cancer Institute grant, Onega’s current project “represents a larger theme of moving away from ‘one- size-fits-all’ cancer screening to more individualized screening based on risk, patient preferences, and technology effectiveness,” explains Onega.

Teamwork: Onega works closely with her colleague from the Geisel School, Anna Tosteson, a professor of medicine and of community and family medicine. She also collaborates with members of the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium from Harvard, the University of New Mexico, University of North Carolina, University of California-San Francisco, the University of Vermont and the University of Washington.

Alan Gustman, the Loren M. Berry Professor of Economics, is analyzing the effects of changes in wealth and labor market opportunities fostered by recessions. (photo courtesy of Alan Gustman)

Alan Gustman, the Loren M. Berry Professor of Economics

Sponsoring agency: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Project: “Effects of Recession on the Work and Retirement of the Older Population”

Recession Repercussions: Even when the economy is flourishing, planning and preparing for retirement can be a difficult task. What happens when you throw in the repercussions and financial uncertainties caused by a recession? Gustman will seek to answer those questions by applying new methodologies to analyze The Health and Retirement Study—a unique, comprehensive data set that follows thousands of retirement age individuals over time. “The project will increase our ability, and those of policy makers, to understand the full range of the effects of recession on retirement and assets accumulated to support older persons in their retirement, and how the impact of public policies is changed in a recessionary environment,” says Gustman.

Filling a void: Over the past decade, Gustman and his colleagues have developed and improved economic models for retirement and saving, analyzing the effects of changing Social Security and pension policies, and the role that demographics, health, and other factors have on shaping retirement and saving for retirement. While Gustman’s previous research focused on retirement and saving in a more stable environment, he has now turned his attention to analyzing the effects of changes in wealth and labor market opportunities fostered by recessions. “Once estimated, we will be able to answer questions about how recessions and their aftermath affect the work and retirement of the older population.”

Teamwork: Gustman is collaborating with long-term colleagues, Nahid Tabatabai, a research associate in Dartmouth’s Economics Department, and Thomas Steinmeier, an economics professor from Texas Tech University.

March 2012 Research Awards

Dartmouth researchers were awarded $7.7 million in new and competing awards in March. The recipients of the new and competing grants, as reported by the Office of Sponsored Projects:

Award commitment from the sponsoring agency is for a single year unless otherwise indicated.

Charles Carr—Orthopaedics

Sponsoring agency: “Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation”

Project: OREF Residency Enhancement Grant

Ta Yuan Chang and C. Chang—Biochemistry

Sponsoring agency: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Project: “Functional Analysis of ACAT”

4-year project

Andrea Corcoran—Physiology

Sponsoring agency: Francis Families Foundation

Project: “Effects of Brainstem Serotonin Manipulations on Hypoxic Responses in Neonates”

3-year project

Solomon Diamond—Thayer School of Engineering

Sponsoring agency: Rogue Research Inc.

Project: “Head Probe for Combined Near-Infrared Spectroscopy and Electroencephalography”

8-month project

Nathaniel Dominy—Anthropology

Sponsoring agency: The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Project: “Evolution, Ecology, and Biomechanics of Human Hunter-Gatherers”

2-year project

Valerie Galton—Physiology

Sponsoring agency: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Project: “Is Thyroxine More than a Prohormone?”

2-year project

Sponsoring agency: Yale University

Project: “Novel Targets of Rapamycin and Akt in Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Differentiation”

10-month project

Karen George and E. Goldstein—Obstetrics and Gynecology

Sponsoring agency:  Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making

Project: “Creation and Implementation of a Decision Aid to Support Patients Making Prenatal Screening Decisions”

Alan Gustman—Economics

Sponsoring agency: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Project: “Effects of Recession on the Work and Retirement of the Older Population”

4-year project

Thomas Jack—Biological Sciences

Sponsoring agency: Rutgers State University

Project: “An Integrated Approach to Improving Plant Biomass Accumulation”

Margaret Karagas and Z. Li and J. Rees—Community and Family Medicine and S. Soneji—The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice

Sponsoring agency: National Cancer Institute

Project: “Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer in New Hampshire”

4-year project

Brian Lacy—Medicine

Sponsoring agency: Mayo Clinic

Project: “Antidepressant Therapy for Functional Dyspepsia”

6-month project

Karen Liby and M. Sporn—Pharmacology and Toxicology

Sponsoring agency: Dana Farber Cancer Institute

Project: “Preclinical and Brief Exposure Early Clinical Evaluation of an Oral PARP Inhibitor for Breast Cancer Prevention in BRCA Mutation Carriers”

Jennifer Loros and J. Dunlap—Genetics

Sponsoring agency: National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Project: “Identification and Analysis of Circadian Clock-Controlled Genes”

45-month project

Kristina Lynch—Physics and Astronomy

Sponsoring agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Project: Sounding Rocket Payload Systems for In-Situ Measurement of Ionosphere-Thermosphere Structure at Small Spatial Scales:  Dartmouth Co-I Proposal

2-year project

Dean Madden—Biochemistry and S. Gerber—Genetics and G. O’Toole—Microbiology & Immunology

Sponsoring agency: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Project: “Mechanism of Cif Virulence: A Bacterial Strategy to Subvert Host-Cell Defenses”

5-year project

Lisa Marsch—Psychiatry

Sponsoring agency: National Development and Research Institutes, Inc

Project: “Optimizing Computer-Based Video to Increase HIV Testing in Emergency”

Carmen Marsit and J. DeLeo—Pharmacology and Toxicology

Sponsoring agency: Butler Hospital

Project: “Childhood Maltreatment: Epigenetic Modulation of the Glucocorticoid Receptor”

7-month project

David Mullins and E. Clancy-Thompson—Microbiology and Immunology

Sponsoring agency: Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation

Project: “Modulation of the CXCR3 Chemotactic Axis to Enhance T cell-mediated Infiltration and Eradication of Metastatic Melanomas”

Eugene Nelson and K. Homa—The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice

Sponsoring agency: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Project: “Cystic Fibrosis Patient and Family Survey”

2-year project

 

Joanne Nicholson—Psychiatry

Sponsoring agency: University of Massachusetts Medical Center

Project: “Developing Disabilities-Related Applications”

6-month project

Sponsoring agency: William T. Grant Foundation

Project: “Using Research Evidence to Improve Medicaid Mental Health Outcomes for Massachusetts Children and Youth”

Tracy Onega—Community and Family Medicine

Sponsoring agency: Group Health Research Institute

Project: “Risk-Based Breast Cancer Screening in Community Settings”

11-month project

Deborah Ornstein and L. Mckernan—Medicine

Sponsoring agency: University of Massachusetts

Project: “Prevention of Complications of Hemophilia”

George O’Toole—Microbiology and Immunology

Sponsoring agency: National Science Foundation

Project: “Biofilm Development by Pseudomonas fluorescens”

4-year project

Jacqueline Smith and D. Mullins—Microbiology and Immunology

Sponsoring agency: Tarix Pharmaceuticals, LTD

Project: “TARIX Testing Agreement”

Catherine Stanger and A. Budney and R. Roth—Psychiatry

Sponsoring agency: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Project: “The Neuroeconomics of Behavioral Therapies for Adolescent Substance Abuse”

Ronald Taylor—Microbiology and Immunology

Sponsoring agency: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Project: “Genetic Determinants of Virulence in Vibrio cholerae”

5-year project

Anna Tosteson—The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and D. Goodman—Pediatrics

Sponsoring agency: Group Health Research Institute

Project: “Risk-Based Cancer Screenings in Community Settings”

11-month project

Lorenza Viola—Physics & Astronomy

Sponsoring agency: Georgia Institute of Technology

Project: “Optimized Resources and Architectures for Quantum aLgorithms (ORAQL)”

4-year project

C. Fordham von Reyn and L. Adams and R. Waddell—Medicine and R. Connor and S. Dorosko—Microbiology and Immunology and K. Hendricks—Pediatrics

Sponsoring agency: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Project: “Effects of Protein-calorie Supplementation on HIV Disease in Breastfeeding Women”

22-month project

Ulrike Wegst—Thayer School of Engineering

Sponsoring agency: Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC

Project: “Freeze-Casting as a Novel Manufacturing Process for Fast Reactor Fuels”

18-month project

Peter Wright—Pediatrics

Sponsoring agency: Gheskio

Project: GHESKIO Clinical Trials Unit