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Charles Rondot
School of Public Health-Bloomington

Tracy James
IU Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, September 19, 2012

IU nutritional epidemiologist receives NIH grant for research in the 'stroke belt'

Sept. 19, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- 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."

About the School of Public Health-Bloomington, formerly the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation

With nearly 2,500 students in more than 50 undergraduate and advanced degree programs, the School of Public Health-Bloomington offers a traditional campus experience enriched by 21st-century innovation. More than 120 faculty in five academic departments -- kinesiology; applied health science; recreation, park and tourism studies; environmental health; and epidemiology and biostatistics -- conduct major research, teach and engage with communities across a broad spectrum of health, wellness and disease-prevention topics. Each department offers numerous majors, minors and opportunities for graduate and undergraduate studies. In addition to its academic departments, the school administers Campus Recreational Sports, which serves roughly 80 percent of the IU Bloomington student body through various intramural, club and individual sports opportunities.