Baquero discusses her work on health disparities

Barbara Baquero, CPH assistant professor of community and behavioral health, recently spoke to Public Health Minute about her work focusing on community-based health behavior interventions to reduce health inequalities related to obesity and cancer among Latinos in low-resource communities.

Take part in the Relay for Life cancer walk

Relay for Life 2018 posterCPH students, faculty, and staff are invited to register or form a team for this year’s Relay for Life cancer walk on Saturday, April 7, at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex.

Learn more:

Join or donate to the College of Public Health team:

There’s also an opportunity to join planning committees for the event. If you’re interested in helping, please contact:

Christy Manternach | Senior Manager, State Health Systems
North Region | American Cancer Society, Inc.
4080 First Avenue NE Suite 101
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
Phone: 319.866.7108

Study looks at link between glyphosate and cancer

Tractor spraying soybean crops with pesticides and herbicidesA long-term study on the use of the weed killer glyphosate by agricultural workers has found no firm link between exposure to the herbicide and cancer.

Published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI), the study found no association between glyphosate, the main ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, and any solid tumors or lymphoid malignancies overall, including non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and its subtypes.

The research team included Charles Lynch, professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa College of Public Health. Laura Beane Freeman, principal investigator of the study at the National Cancer Institute, is also an alumna of the college.

In a summary of the results, the researchers said that among 54,251 pesticide applicators studied, 44,932, or 82.9 percent, used glyphosate.

Although the study noted there was some evidence of increased risk of acute myeloid leukemia among the highest exposed group, this association was not statistically significant.

The new research is part of the Agricultural Health Study, which has been tracking the health of tens of thousands of agricultural workers and their families in Iowa and North Carolina since the 1990s.

UI to study HPV vaccine disparities in rural areas

Natoshia Askelson
Natoshia Askelson

University of Iowa investigators are beginning a yearlong study to better understand why HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine coverage in rural areas of the state lags behind other adolescent immunizations.

The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute through the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, will be led by a team from Holden. Natoshia Askelson, assistant professor of community and behavioral health in the UI College of Public Health, is the project director. Other partners include the Iowa Primary Care Association, Iowa Department of Public Health, American Cancer Society, Iowa Cancer Consortium, and local public health agencies.

The HPV vaccine protects against a number of diseases and HPV-related cancers such as cervical cancer and oral cancer, but vaccination rates across Iowa are below the national average. According to the most recent data available, only 21 percent of 13- to 15-year-olds in Iowa had completed the HPV vaccination series in 2015. Federal health officials have a goal of 80 percent vaccination completion for adolescents by 2020.

The UI researchers will look at rural counties to explore the various factors that may influence uptake of the HPV vaccine in rural areas.

“This vaccine is nearly 100 percent effective at preventing cancer, so we want to make sure that all adolescents in Iowa have the opportunity to benefit from this vaccine when they are getting their other adolescent vaccines,” says Askelson. “Our work will identify how we can better support rural communities and clinics so that all children will have access to this vaccine.”

For additional information about this study, contact Natoshia Askelson ( Further information about the HPV vaccine is available online at



Field to be honored with Iowa Cancer Champion Award

A portrait of William Field of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.R. William “Bill” Field, CPH professor of occupational and environmental health, will be awarded a 2017 Iowa Cancer Champion Award at the Iowa Cancer Summit Oct. 18 in Ankeny, Iowa.

Field, a nationally recognized radon expert, was nominated by Gail Orcutt of Pleasant Hill and Julie Weisshaar of Creston. He was nominated for championing policy and systems change to reduce exposure to radon and ultimately reduce radon-induced lung cancer in Iowa.

Weisshaar writes, “He helped identify radon as the leading environmental cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and remains dedicated to educating the public about the health risks of radon and ways to reduce exposure in homes, schools and at work.”

Among the efforts referenced in Fields’s nominations, were his leadership of the Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study, acting as a scientific advisor for the School Radon Training & Support System, leading advocacy to develop policy requiring school radon testing, and advocating for required radon testing with real estate sales and required radon mitigation systems in new home construction.

Field serves as a member of United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board as well as a presidential appointee on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health. He is also the Deputy Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s funded Heartland Center for Occupational Health and Safety based at the University of Iowa.

The awards will be presented from 11:00-11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny, Iowa.

University of Iowa researchers receive funding to study targeted cancer therapies

DNA strandsFaculty from the Greater Plains Collaborative Iowa Research Center, located in the University of Iowa (UI) Department of Epidemiology’s Health Effectiveness Research Center in collaboration with the UI Institute for Clinical and Translational Science Biomedical Informatics Core, have received funding from PCORnet, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, to perform rapid-cycle research on cancer molecular targeted therapies. The UI will receive $235,000 of the total $1 million award for this nine-site collaborative study.

Led by co-principal investigators Elizabeth Chrischilles, professor of epidemiology and Pomerantz Chair in Public Health at the University of Iowa, and Russ Waitman, professor of internal medicine, director of medical informatics, and associate vice chancellor for enterprise analytics at the University of Kansas Medical Center, the primary goal of the project is to examine the patterns of use of molecular biomarkers and associated targeted cancer therapies for patients with invasive solid tumors.

Other goals include documenting the frequency of use of targeted therapy agents for each cancer, the frequency of testing prior to use of these agents, the concordance between testing results and choices of therapies, and the frequency with which these therapies are used for approved indications vs. “off-label.”

This project is also designed to test and expand the capacity of PCORnet to describe the details of cancer pathology, test results, cancer treatment, and outcomes. It is intended to inform key stakeholder groups, particularly payers, on current patterns of care and to assess capacity for future comparative outcomes studies, both observational and randomized.

Data for tests and therapies will come from the clinical data warehouses derived from electronic health records at each participating site. These data are coded consistently across sites using the PCORnet Common Data Model (CDM). Furthermore, each site will link their CDM tables to data from their respective tumor registries. Tumor registry tables include data for tumor characteristics, demographics, and first course of treatment. They are also coded consistently across sites using standards from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.

The nine participating sites include University of Florida Health; Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Medical University of South Carolina; University of Iowa; University of Kansas Medical Center; University of Texas, Southwestern; Marshfield Clinic; University of Minnesota; and University of Nebraska Medical Center.

These sites represent three PCORnet Clinical Data Research Networks (OneFlorida, Mid-South CDRN, and the Greater Plains Collaborative) and include four National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers (the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center at Vanderbilt University, the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa, the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, and the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at University of Texas, Southwestern). The ABOUT (American BRCA Outcomes and Utilization of Testing) Patient-Powered Research Network is also participating to provide vital patient input at all stages of this research project.

The Greater Plains Collaborative ( is a network of 12 leading medical centers in 8 states committed to a shared vision of improving health care delivery through ongoing learning, adoption of evidence-based practices, and active research dissemination. The University of Iowa leads the cancer research agenda for the network in collaboration with the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center Population Research Core.

PCORnet is an innovative initiative funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). PCORnet is a large, highly representative, national “network of networks” that collects data routinely gathered in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, doctors’ offices, and community clinics.  By engaging a variety of stakeholders – patients, families, providers, and researchers – PCORnet empowers individuals and organizations to use this data to answer practical questions that help patients, clinicians, and other stakeholders make informed health care decisions.

Askelson tapped to lead UI cancer prevention program

Natoshia M. Askelson, MPH, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health at the UI College of Public Health, has been named principal investigator of the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (CPCRN) collaborating center at the University of Iowa. The CPCRN is a national network of academic, public health, and community partners who work together to reduce the burden of cancer, especially among those disproportionately affected. The Iowa collaborating center, affiliated with the College of Public Health’s Prevention Research Center, is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute. The University of Iowa joined  the CPCRN in 2014, and is one of eight institutions that participate as collaborating centers nationally.

“We are very pleased to have someone with Dr. Askelson’s experience in cancer prevention and control as the PI of the CPCRN collaborating center at Iowa,” says Edith Parker, DrPH, professor and head of community and behavioral health and director of the Prevention Research Center. “Her expertise in research and applied evaluation in issues related to cancer prevention and control will benefit our investigators as well as our community partnerships.”

The University of Iowa collaborates with other CPCRN centers to investigate areas of research interest, including initiatives to increase Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rates and colorectal cancer screening rates. Currently, CPCRN investigator Jason Daniel-Ulloa, PhD, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health, is working in the community of West Liberty, Iowa, to establish sustainable community-clinical partnerships aimed at increasing HPV vaccination rates in Latinos. In addition, Askelson and Parker contribute to a collaborative workgroup that is examining the use of evidence-based colorectal cancer screening interventions in  Federally Qualified Health Centers.

More information about the University of Iowa CPCRN is available at Information on the national network of CPCRN collaborating centers is available at .