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Investigator Spotlights

Dartmouth researchers were awarded $4.7 million during November, including $1.2 million in new and competing awards. View the complete list of awards. Here, Vox spotlights three investigators and their work.

Kenneth Koval, professor of orthopaedic surgery

EBI, L.P. A Biomet Company
“Three Treatments for Unstable Distal Radius Fractures—Prospective Randomized Study”

Kenneth KovalKenneth Koval (photo by Mark Washburn)

Fix it: Wrist fractures are common, and the unstable injury often requires surgery. But there is controversy, Koval notes, over which of the three most common surgical treatments (a metal plate used internally, and two methods of pinning the joint from outside) yields the best results.

Comparing outcomes: The study, Koval explains, will track how patients’ fractures heal, the rates and types of complications that may occur, and patients’ reports of both pain and wrist function. The study, he expects, will “diminish uncertainty regarding the best way to fixate wrist fractures,” continuing his ongoing research into the effectiveness of surgical and non-surgical treatments of such injuries.

Teamwork: Study researchers also include Robert Cantu MD (DHMC), Paul Tornetta, III, MD (Boston Medical Center) and Melvin Rosenwasser, MD (Columbia University Medical Center).

Kristina Lynch, associate professor of physics and astronomy

Department of Defense, Naval Research Laboratory
“Low-Energy Ion Measurements of the Near Space Environment”

K LynchKristina Lynch (photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Made in Hanover: “This award helps fund the in-house development of a new low-resource ion sensor for small spacecraft, which will measure low-energy ions in the Earth’s near-space environment,” says Lynch.

Minimalist: The new instrument will allow Lynch’s team to take measurements of the ionospheric plasma from spacecraft platforms that have minimal resources, such as CubeSats. Unlike most of the detectors the group builds, this one does not require high voltages.

Teamwork: The project unites efforts by graduate student Lisa Gayetsky to understand the plasma environment around low-energy probes with the small-spacecraft development work of graduate student Phil Bracikowski. “It is the higher-altitude complement to our balloon-borne GreenCube undergraduate work,” Lynch says.

Michael Zegans, associate professor of surgery (ophthalmology)

University of California, San Francisco
“Mycotic Ulcer Treatment Trial”

Michael ZegansMichael Zegans (photo by Mark Washburn)

Eye opening: Fungus-caused infections of the cornea, the clear tissue layer at the front of the eye that focuses and transmits light, are often more severe and more difficult to treat than those caused by bacteria. Despite this, notes Zegans, physicians lack good evidence for deciding how to medicate. This study evaluates two anti-fungal drugs.

Teamwork: Zegans, Christine Toutain-Kidd, PhD, and Richard Zuckerman, MD, collaborate with researchers from the Proctor Foundation at the University of California San Francisco (where the study is based) and the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India.

International exchange: The cooperation between Aravind and Dartmouth includes a Dickey Center fellowship that allows Dartmouth graduate students to work in India. It is mentored by Zegans and funded by the National Institutes of Health’s John E. Fogarty International Center. The Tuck School, the Dickey Center, and Dartmouth’s Global Health Initiative will also host an Aravind physician/administrator this summer.

By KELLY SUNDBERG SEAMAN

Last Updated: 2/1/10