Purdue University Northwest’s Integrative Physiology and Health Sciences (IPHS) Center has received a grant for $133,000 from the Indiana Department of Health (IDH), as part of the department’s Health Issues and Challenges program, for local initiatives to improve and promote cardiovascular health. The Health Issues and Challenges program was established by the Indiana General Assembly in 2021, with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
The IPHS Center will use the grant to evaluate and implement lifestyle changes for residents of both Lake and LaPorte counties in Northwest Indiana. Residents of either county are encouraged to take advantage of the free educational and screening sessions, which will occur in to-be-determined health centers. Participants will be provided with free at-home screening devices on a first-come, first-served basis, such as automated blood pressure cuffs, pulse oximeters and pedometers.
PNW’s IPHS Center will specifically focus on overt heart disease prevention, including blood pressure control, cholesterol management, smoking cessation, and maintenance of a normal body mass index (BMI).
“The College of Engineering and Sciences is proud to receive this grant from the Indiana Department of Health to facilitate cardiovascular health outreach and education,” said Dietmar Rempfer, interim dean of the College of Engineering and Sciences. “This project is right in line with our mission as a metropolitan university to deliver transformational change to Northwest Indiana through education and service.”
PNW is one of more than 150 entities to receive funding for the Health Issues and Challenges program, which focuses on the following priority areas: tobacco use, food insecurity and obesity, lead exposure, hepatitis C, chronic disease, public health prevention programs, substance use disorder, and community health workers.
Grant applicants were prioritized by the IDH based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) metrics on a 0 to 1 scale. PNW’s IPHS Center showed through data that numerous Northwest Indiana communities, including around its Hammond and Westville campuses, had high SVI values greater than 0.7. The state awarded more than $35 million statewide in the initial round of funding.
PNW’s IPHS Center, which functions under the auspices of the College of Engineering and Sciences, is a research center dedicated to expanding human health research at PNW and improving health-related initiatives and impact at PNW and in Northwest Indiana.
PNW faculty members overseeing this outreach on behalf of the IPHS Center include John Durocher, Nils K. Nelson associate professor of Integrative Human Health; Ezra Mutai, assistant professor of Food and Nutrition; and Matthew Ladwig, assistant professor of Integrative Human Health.
“I was pleased to learn about this opportunity through the Indiana Department of Health when I attended an I-HOPE event in Merrillville in late February,” said Durocher. “The healthcare and community members who spoke at the event clearly impressed how access to health-related services is limited for many northwest Indiana residents. We are honored to receive this grant, and our IPHS team looks forward to helping to provide free education and screening events to those who live in Lake and LaPorte counties.”