NIH $2.3 Million Stroke Belt Grant for the School of Public Health

Nutritional epidemiologist Ka He, chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, received a five-year, $2.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to examine trace element distribution in relation to residents' risk for stroke in the nation's "stroke belt."

A stroke belt in the southeastern U.S. was identified a half century ago as a region of unusually high stroke mortality. It includes Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. The study will focus on blood or urinary levels of arsenic, cadmium, mercury, magnesium and selenium.

"The study will help identify individuals who have an elevated risk for stroke, thus providing important data identifying whether stroke risk can be reduced by dietary, supplemental, lifestyle or environmental changes to modify trace element patterns," He said.

He is founding chair of the new Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics; his appointment began Aug. 1, several weeks before receiving the NIH award. His primary research interests involve diet and nutrients in relation to chronic diseases. In another NIH-funded study, He's group examines the associations between trace element concentrations in toenails and risk of cardiovascular diseases. This more recent grant is a collaborative study with key co-investigators from University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of Missouri-Columbia.

"Professor Ka He is an internationally recognized epidemiologist, and this NIH-funded research project will have a major impact in prevention and early detection of stroke as a leading causes of death in our country and beyond," said Mohammad Torabi, interim dean of the School of Public Health-Bloomington. "Our school is proud to have recruited such an outstanding researcher and esteemed faculty member as the founding chair of our newly established Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics."