Oregon State University is working to promote health and wellness across the lifespan through multidisciplinary research and collaboration. Oregon State researchers work with medical and public health professionals to better detect and prevent disease, avoid injuries and develop innovative technologies, pharmaceuticals and treatments.

Health care success stories

Detecting counterfeit drugs
In parts of Asia and Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that a third to half of the artesunate — a front-line anti-malarial drug — is fake. In addition to causing people to die through inadequate treatment, these counterfeit drugs can promote antibiotic resistance, threatening the effectiveness of existing medications.

Responding to the WHO’s call for faster, more accurate drug testing, Myra Koesdjojo, an Oregon State post-doctoral research chemist, and an international team of graduate and undergraduate students developed a simple, rapid and inexpensive device that reads light reflected from a paper test strip to determine precisely how much of an active ingredient is present in a drug sample. The researchers have built a prototype device using off-the-shelf electrical components and open-source software and are developing an iPhone app.

Preventing workplace injuries
Devin Lucas believes all workers have the right to earn their living in a safe and healthy environment. An Oregon State Ph.D. student in public health, Lucas’ research for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) aims to prevent fatal work-related injuries in traditional high-risk occupations like commercial fishing. His field research focused on preventing worker fatalities caused by falling overboard from fishing vessels. In a study of personal floatation device use among workers in Alaska, Lucas’ research identified high-risk groups and addressed barriers to their widespread implementation.

A new solution for eczema
It can start with an itchy rash, but left untreated, the common skin disease known as eczema can flare up across the body. Most sufferers develop symptoms as infants. There is no cure. Managing this chronic illness means applying moisturizing lotions and corticosteroids, which can have harmful side effects.

Now, scientists at Oregon State have discovered an underlying genetic cause that may lead to more effective treatment. Associate professor Arup Indra (cover) and a research team in the College of Pharmacy has confirmed that a laboratory mouse deficient in the protein CTIP2 mimics eczema in humans. With a better understanding of the genetic cause of eczema, Indra says there’s potential to develop new therapies and personalize treatments.

The research has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Oregon Health and Science University Medical Research Foundation.

Preventing falls and injuries among seniors
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three people over 65 falls in a given year. The results are too familiar: broken hips, concussions and other bone-rattling traumas that in 2006 sent about 1.8 million seniors to emergency rooms. Accidental falls are also the leading cause of injury-related deaths among seniors.

Kathy Gunter, an assistant professor in OSU Extension’s Family and Community Development Program, developed Better Bones and Balance, an exercise program to reduce the risk of falls and fractures among older adults. Through a prescribed routine of self-paced stretching and weight-bearing exercises that build muscle, bone mass and confidence, the class equips seniors to safely handle everyday chores like getting dressed, doing laundry, vacuuming floors and carrying groceries. The program is offered in senior centers and community colleges in Oregon, California and Washington.

Microtechnology makes portable dialysis possible
More than 400,000 Americans with end-stage kidney disease cling to life through regular dialysis treatments. Most spend hours every week in centers hooked to a machine the size of a refrigerator. Microchannel technology developed by Oregon State chemical engineer Goran Jovanovic could change that. Home Dialysis Plus, a spinoff of the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) and the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute, is commercializing a microchannel device for portable dialysis treatment that will let patients receive dialysis treatments at home, often while they are sleeping.