2017 Awarded Grants
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Name:  Hongmei Wang, PhD

Title:  Financial Services for the Poor

Funding Agency:  International Initiative for Impact Evaluation

The specific aims of the grant is to study the short-term impact of unconditional cash transfer on assets holdings, income, consumption, education, food security, health, female empowerment, and psychological wellbeing in rural Kenya using a randomized controlled trial.

For more information contact Dr. Hongmei Wang at hongmeiwang@unmc.edu.

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Name:  Shannon Maloney, PhD

Title:  Impact Evaluation of Interventions to Reduce Maternal Mortality in Kerala, India

Funding Agency:  International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)

The Department of Health at the Directorate of Health in Kerala, in partnership with the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Government of Kerala, the Kerala Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and NICE International, has introduced a set of quality guidelines designed to improve management of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) and pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH) among public hospitals in Kerala, India. PPH and PIH are the leading causes of maternal death in Kerala. Using two complementary difference in difference designs, we examine the impact of introduction of these guidelines on quality of care and maternal health outcomes among up to 71 public hospitals in 14 districts in Kerala. We utilize a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches to measure the impact on structural, process and health outcome measures related to PPH and PIH management. Structural changes are assessed through indicators such as presence of management flow-charts, adequate supply of recommended equipment and availability of recommended, unexpired medications. We measure changes in management of PPH and PIH against the MMR quality standards to evaluate impacts on process outcomes. Finally, impacts on health outcomes, including incidence, complications and mortality associated with PPH and PIH are explored. We also examine provider attitudes, knowledge and perceived challenges associated with implementing the guidelines. The results of this study will help inform policy maker and practitioner decision-making around improving quality of care in public hospitals to improve maternal mortality outcomes.

For more information, contact Dr. Shannon Maloney at shannon.maloney@unmc.edu.

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Name:  Michael Wiley, PhD

Title:  Biological Field and Laboratory Support

Funding Agency:  National Strategic Research Institute

Developing and maintaining capabilities for the nation requires long-term commitment. In order to aid in the identification and development of new methods to control intracellular bacterial parasites, biological field and laboratory support is needed to focus on the study of lifecycles related to intracellular pathogens and endosymbionts, such as Wolbachia, rickettsia, and Francisella species. It is hoped that by understanding the relationship between Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) and Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) strains of naturally occurring pathogens and mechanisms responsible for the suppression of these organisms in the environment, new applications including prophylaxis, detection, and mitigation can be developed. A parallel effort supporting DTRA will be conducted by the National Laboratories. This effort will include collaboration with these parallel efforts by sharing samples and research results where possible.

Our aim is to provide field and laboratory support for DTRA to develop and evaluate novel prophylaxis and mitigation related substances to control intracellular bacterial parasites that affect human and livestock populations. Specific subtasks will include providing Field Collection and Support NU/NSRI shall, in collaboration with DTRA, plan and execute multiple targeted environmental sample collections, directly collaborate and coordinate with National Laboratories and other partner assets to facilitate environmental collections, and provide training, support, and advisory activities for events as designated by DTRA.

For more information contact Dr. Michael Wiley at mike.wiley@unmc.edu.

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Name:  Michael Wiley, PhD

Title:  Research Support for Technology Evaluation of Target Enrichment Methods and Bio-surveillance Support to the Pathogen Discovery and Bio-surveillance Unit with USAMRIID Center for Genome Sciences

Funding Agency:  National Strategic Research Institute

The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) mission is to conduct research on current and emerging biodefense threats, resulting in medical solutions to protect the warfighter. As the lead Department of Defense (DoD) laboratory working with highly dangerous Biological Select Agents & Toxins (BSATs), USAMRIID is increasingly reliant on the use of genomics and bioinformatics tools to monitor infectious disease threats. As a result, USAMRIID has developed the Center for Genome Sciences (CGS) that includes scientific expertise and state-of-the-art technology platforms to provide cutting edge next-generation sequencing (NGS) and analysis of BSATs in support of the USAMRIID mission. The CGS also evaluates and develops reliable, accurate and rapid high-throughput sequencing (HTS) methods and capabilities to support the Defense Threat Reduction Agency/Joint Science and Technology Office (DTRA/JSTO) initiative to identify unknown and emerging pathogens; to perform whole genome sequencing; and to characterize host-pathogen interactions. The CGS also has five core mission research areas: pathogen discovery and surveillance, system biology, functional genomics, immunomics, and bacterial comparative genomics.

This PWS relates exclusively to the Pathogen Discovery and Biosurveillance Unit to further develop HTS capabilities to counter threats from emerging pathogens. The PWS includes the evaluation of target identification and enrichment techniques for pathogen discovery as well as biosurveillance support services for samples requiring the pathogen discovery strategy.

For more information contact Dr. Michael Wiley at mike.wiley@unmc.edu.

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Name:  Hilary A (Abbie) Raikes, PhD

Title:  Porticus Foundation Social-Emotional Development

Funding Agency:  Porticus Foundation

In partnership with the World Bank and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Porticus Foundation, Dr. Raikes and her team at UNL (Dr. Dawn Davis and Dr. Natalie Koziol) worked with several low-income and middle-income countries on the Measuring Early Learning Quality & Outcomes (MELQO) initiative.  This initiative, described in more detail at www.ecdmeasure.org, helps improve measurement of early childhood development and learning, and quality of young children’s learning environments. MELQO has resulted in several publications and country reports, which can be found on the website.  Dr. Raikes has also worked with Dr. Davis and researchers in two African countries to conduct qualitative work on teachers’ perceptions of quality in children’s classrooms. 

For more information contact Dr. Abbie Raikes at abbie.raikes@unmc.edu.

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Name:  Hilary A (Abbie) Raikes, PhD

Title:  Supporting Early Childhood Development in Africa: Capacity-Building Partnership Between World Bank Group and University of Nebraska

Funding Agency:  Children's Investment Fund Foundation

In partnership with the World Bank and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Porticus Foundation, Dr. Raikes and her team at UNL (Dr. Dawn Davis and Dr. Natalie Koziol) worked with several low-income and middle-income countries on the Measuring Early Learning Quality & Outcomes (MELQO) initiative.  This initiative, described in more detail at www.ecdmeasure.org, helps improve measurement of early childhood development and learning, and quality of young children’s learning environments. MELQO has resulted in several publications and country reports, which can be found on the website.  Dr. Raikes has also worked with Dr. Davis and researchers in two African countries to conduct qualitative work on teachers’ perceptions of quality in children’s classrooms. 

For more information contact Dr. Abbie Raikes at abbie.raikes@unmc.edu.

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Name:  John Lowe, PhD

Title:  Biological Field and Laboratory Support, Global Emerging Infections Surveillance

Funding Agency:  National Strategic Research Institute

The Global Emerging Infections Surveillance (GEIS) section at the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch requires expertise in laboratory operations and bio-surveillance to support global laboratory and bio-surveillance operations.  NU/NSRI shall provide Senior Subject Matter Expertise (SME) on bio-surveillance concepts, technologies, and operations, primarily to assess laboratory and bio-surveillance operations.  The senior SMEs will serve as an interagency and international coordination SMEs for surveillance activities, provide strategic planning, communications, engagement and support of bio-surveillance activities in expert roles.

For more information contact Dr. John Lowe at jjlowe@unmc.edu.

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Name:  Aaron Yoder, PhD

Title:  Safety in Agriculture for Youth: Maintaining a National Clearinghouse

Funding Agency:  US Department of Agriculture

This project builds upon and strengthen the activities and accomplishments of the Safety in Agriculture for Youth (SAY) project. The project specifically addresses: a) maintaining the operations of an engaged and effective National Steering Committee and Executive Committee; b) maintaining and strengthening the SAY National Clearinghouse by increasing curricula and other resources available through the clearinghouse, enhancing outreach to stakeholders; and c) promoting the use of the SAY National Clearinghouse.

For more information contact Dr. Aaron Yoder at aaron.yoder@unmc.edu.

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Name:  Paul Estabrooks, PhD

Title:  The PREDICTS Trial - Preventing Diabetes with Digital Health and Coaching for Translation and Scalability

Funding Agency:  Omada Health

The specific aims of this grant are to determine the effectiveness of an adapted, digitally-delivered Diabetes Prevention Program for improving weight, glucose control, and secondary risk factors compared to current standard care for prediabetes using a randomized control trial. Potential intervention reach, adoption, implementation, and maintenance in a typical healthcare setting will also be investigated.

For more information contact Dr. Paul Estabrooks at paul.estabrooks@unmc.edu.

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Name:  John Lowe, PhD

Title:  Supporting Study to Transform En-Route Care System; Transport Isolation System (TIS) Independent Validation and Verification Activities

Funding Agency:  National Strategic Research Institute

The overall objective of this grant is to establish the scope of effective operation for the TIS through scientific assessment of fundamental system design, operational, and operational parameters. These will include overall design considerations and limitations of the TIS, safety protocols for personnel, waste, decontamination and patient off-loading.

For more information contact Dr. John Lowe at jjlowe@unmc.edu.

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Name:  Eleanor Rogan, PhD

Title:  Linking Pediatric Health Outcomes with Water Quality Across Nebraska Watersheds

Funding Agency:  Edna Ittner Trust Fund, UN Foundation

Contaminants in water can cause adverse health effects.  A watershed is a topographic area within which surface and shallow groundwater drains to a specific point.  When it comes to waterborne contaminant exposure, two individuals that live miles apart, but within the same watershed, may experience similar exposures, whereas two individuals that live close to each other, but in different watersheds, may experience very different exposure profiles. We have previously mapped adverse health outcomes such as birth defects and pediatric cancers at the watershed scale.  The next step in our work is to incorporate water quality data into our watershed-based approach.  The specific aims of this project are to:

  1. Develop a methodology to classify water quality information from various sources into a representative and quantitative metric that can be used to represent the water quality observed in a watershed.
  2. Correlate our water quality information developed in Aim 1 with adverse health outcomes (pediatric cancer and birth defects) mapped via our watershed approach to evaluate regions in the state of Nebraska where elevated incidence of adverse health outcomes corresponds with elevated concentrations of water quality parameters such as nutrients, pharmaceuticals and pesticides.

For more information contact Dr. Eleanor Rogan at egrogan@unmc.edu.