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May 2010

Annual Kirksey Lecture Explores Early Determinants of Chronic Disease

Dr. Avanelle Kirksey, a valued faculty member of the Department of Foods and Nutrition from 1961 to 1994, left a legacy at Purdue University. Her dynamic, productive and imaginative research program bridged the gap from basic mechanistic science to a better understanding of the relation of diet to human behavior and cognition. In 1985, Dr. Kirksey became the second female distinguished professor on the Purdue University campus. In 1997 she received an honorary doctorate from Purdue. Her groundbreaking research, valued teaching, and community outreach efforts are honored with this lecture series that is held each spring.

The 2010 Avanelle Kirksey lecture was held on April 9.  Dr. Stephanie Atkinson presented the topic, “ Early Determinants of Chronic Disease: Pregnancy Through Early Childhood.”   Dr. Atkinson is Professor and Associate Chair (Research) in the Department of Pediatrics, and Associate Member in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. She is also a Special Professional Staff member in McMaster Children’s Hospital and founding partner of the McMaster Child Health Research Institute.

As a nutrition clinician-scientist Dr. Atkinson’s research program explores the concept that nutritional and disease (or drug) exposures during fetal, neonatal and early child-hood life program metabolic regulation that can alter growth and development and risk of adult-onset disease. In childhood survivors of pediatric cancers, cystic fibrosis or epilepsy, her investigations focus on the “late effects” of disease and drug therapy with respect to growth and body composition and how these might be attenuated with nutritional intervention. Taking a life course approach, current research focuses on early determinants of obesity, diabetes, and risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis in children through a prospective, longitudinal birth cohort study. This research has evolved into a national leadership role in developing the Canadian Birth Cohort Re-search Network through the Maternal, Infant, Child and Youth Research Network (MICYRN). Among several honors are the Ryley-Jeffs Memorial Award from the Dietitians of Canada and the Dannon Institute Distinguished Nutrition Leadership Award.  


This lecture is made possible through the generous support of the Nestle Infant Nutrition and Gerber Brand and the endowment supported by Abbott Nutrition, Abbott Laboratories and alumni and friends of Dr. Avanelle Kirksey.

Sara Lee Innovation Award Competition

The annual Sara Lee Innovation Award competition was developed by professor emeritus Olivia Wood in 2007 when Sara Lee initiated a request for a competition exclusively with Purdue students.  Students from five departments, agricultural and biological engineering, chemical engineering, foods and nutrition, food science and hospitality and tourism management, are invited to engage in this competition with sophomores through graduate students eligible to participate. 

The 2010 competition was April 22.  Jacqueline Vahle, a senior majoring in foods and nutrition in business, was a member of the second place Queso2Go team.  She expressed how much she learned about developing a product from the interdisciplinary interaction, “I was eager to develop a really nutritious product, but that was secondary for other disciplines.  (“Let’s add more cheese!”)  This prepares me for the challenges I will face in an industry job.”   Other members of that team were Vaishnavi Chandrasekar, a master's student in food science; Katie Trevino-Zimmerman, a master's student in hospitality and tourism management; Jeffery Wells Lai, a junior in agricultural and biological engineering; and, Sonali Modi, a senior in chemical engineering. Their product is a breakfast quesadilla with authentic ingredients that features sealed sides for convenient eating on the go. The second place team, for the first time, was awarded a $1,000 prize by Sara Lee because the judges were so impressed with their product and presentation Purdue students hit their Sara Lee creation out of the ballpark

The winner of the competition was the Inside Out Chili Dog.  This team's innovation, the Triple Play, is a turkey dog with chili in the middle baked in a soft pretzel dough. Team members include Matt Wolf, Tim Meier, Erin Rosswurm and Janie Stine, all seniors in agricultural and biological engineering. The Triple Play is a co-extrusion product intended as a line extension of the Ball Park brand.  This team created a welded tool to co-extrude the chili interior at the same the meat was extruded into a casing to produce this freezer-to-microwave product.

Teams began working last fall on the projects, which were scored by a panel of judges composed of Sara Lee executives and Purdue professors. Each product was judged on flavor, packaging, nutrition content, as well as plans for marketing, target audiences, production equipment and distribution to vendors. Products that would fit into Sara Lee's production capabilities and current product lines were recommended. Thinking "real world" for product ideas, marketing and packaging is one of the challenges of this competition.

CHEP Forum:

Leveling the Playing Field: Building Bridges between Community and Academia        

On March 5, 2010 Indiana CHEP held the 2nd Annual Community Advisory Council Meeting at WFYI in Indianapolis. CHEP is the Community Health Engagement Program which is part of the Indiana CTSI.  Dr. Carol Boushey and Donna Vandergraff are actively involved in representing Purdue in this effort.

Over 50 organizations accounting for 72 meeting attendees were represented. The purpose of this meeting was to level the playing field between Indiana Community Organizations - who have an interest in the health needs of their Hoosier constituents – and Academic Researchers. The goal of the meeting was to initiate the development of a common language among the two groups in order to foster collaborations and ultimately improve the health of Hoosiers.

Brief presentations by Dr. Ron Ackermann, CHEP Co-Director and Dr. Terry Zollinger, member of the Indiana CTSI Community Executive Board (CEB), updated participants on the work of CHEP over the last year which included the formation of the CEB.  Dr. David Marrero, CHEP Co-Director provided participants with an update on focus groups conducted by CHEP with community stakeholders, Purdue researchers and IU School of Medicine researchers.  Those focus groups provided the basis for the forum.    

Two working sessions were held, focusing first on identifying barriers to the community and researchers working together, followed by development of action plans to address those barriers. Dr. Marrero and Edie Sutton, Purdue Extension, St. Joseph County facilitated the working groups.

The forum included a presentation by  Dr. Jakob Jensen, Dept of Communication, Purdue, “Communicating the Message.”  He described progress that can be made with groups effectively communicate utilizing the example of the Virtual Nurse program.

“Conversation Cafes” were held to allow participants to form groups around specific topics of interest, such as child and infant health, communicating the message, diabetes, mental health, needs assessment and evaluation, obesity, older adults, public health and tobacco use and working with minorities.

The day concluded with one on one speed networking conversations in which any participant could speak with any other participant in 15 minute focused time periods.

Enduring Action Groups (EAGs) were formed to carry on the work that began at this forum.  Stakeholder Engagement is led by Dr. Haslyn Hunte, in the Dept. of Health and Kinesiology  and will focus on identifying stakeholders, performing stakeholder analysis and determining the best methods for accessing stakeholders.  Building sustainable community research partnerships is another goal of this EAG.  The Education, Communication and Training EAG is led by Donna Vandergraff, Foods and Nutrition, and Suzette Foster, Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.  This EAG will focus on locating and developing health literacy training materials for community and academia. One goal is to provide education and training that the community and academia can participate in together.  The Informing Policy EAG is led by Daniel Lopez of the Indiana Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs and will engage the community to gather information about health status and use it to better inform changes in health policy as well as foster conversations to guide funding priorities to better meet community needs.

The next statewide CAC meeting is scheduled for September 2010.

Information about this event and other CHEP initiatives can be found at www.indianactsi.org/chep

For more information contact Donna Vandergraff, vandergraff@purdue.edu or Carol Boushey, boushey@purdue.edu.

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