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WKU’s Institute for Rural Health receives grant for collaborative project

WKU’s Institute for Rural Health and researchers at the University of Louisville are collaborating on a project funded through a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant.

Through the collaboration with U of L, the IRH receives $53,000 annually for each of the project’s five years. Dr. Daniel Carter, IRH Dental Director, is entering into his fifth year as the principal investigator for this project dealing with bio-banking genetic material for research purposes.

The goals of the project are: 1) to institute a pilot project to determine the degree to which rural communities in south central Kentucky would be receptive to the idea of participating in a DNA bio-banking effort, and 2) to establish a process for collecting, de-identifying, shipping and storing DNA samples for analysis, Dr. Carter said.

REDCap, a web-based data management system, has been a key resource in effectively meeting these objectives, and it is because of this project that REDCap is now available to faculty and staff in WKU’s College of Health and Human Services.  To address the question of whether the rural community will be receptive to the idea of participating in a DNA bio-banking effort, willing patients seen on the mobile units respond to a questionnaire directly into REDCap via an iPad.

DNA samples are collected from patients seen on the mobile units by buccal (cheek) swabs, and that patient’s health information is entered into a file in REDCap.  The patient’s file is associated with a randomly generated ID number that is written on the DNA sample.  The sample is then shipped to a researcher at U of L. Once received, the researcher logs the DNA sample into REDCap and uses the ID number on the sample to find the patient’s health information.

The database allows the user at WKU to limit what parts of the patient’s file the user at U of L is able to see, therefore all HIPAA protected identifiers are not available to the user at U of L, Dr. Carter said. The intention being that once this protocol has been proven successful, other institutions could utilize it to create their own database linking genetic material to physical health traits.

Contact: Daniel Carter, (270) 745-2633.

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