Marisa Ramirez
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Performance that CountsRankings by Academic Analytics Consider Faculty Research, Publications

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February 26, 2008-Houston-
HOUSTON, Feb. 26, 2008—The University of Houston Department of Health and Human Performance (HHP) is tops in the nation. That’s according to the most recent Academic Analytics’ Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, an independent ranking of doctoral programs in research universities across the country. The UH program was ranked No. 1 among colleges and universities with health, physical education and recreation programs.

“This confirms that our program is on the move,” said Charles Layne, professor and department chair. “Our faculty is involved in a variety of research projects with collaborators at the Texas Medical Center, NASA and other investigators around the world. These active research agendas provide valuable opportunities for our students to become involved in cutting-edge research.”

Rankings are based on the book and journal publications of faculty, along with their journal article citations and federally funded grants and honorific awards.

HHP researchers focus on a variety of critical subjects such as children’s health, tobacco and drug use, motor skills research applicable to astronauts, the elderly, spinal cord and Parkinson’s patients, and obesity through the Texas Obesity Research Center housed at HHP. In addition, the Laboratory of Integrated Physiology offers opportunities for the research and testing of muscle strength, motor coordination and motor performance testing, learning and memory assessment, and biochemical analysis of biological samples.

“A visit to the department’s laboratory captures in a glance the exciting research that is being undertaken,” said Donald Birx, vice president for research at UH. “It is highly visible, energetic and engaging, and it is changing and challenging the way we live.”

In 2005, the HHP doctoral program was rated in the top 20 of such programs in the country by the American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education.

To view the Academic Analytics rankings, visit www.academicanalytics.com/TopSchools/TopPrograms.aspx#6.

For more information on the UH Department of Health and Human Performance, visit www.hhp.uh.edu/.

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

One pump would be dedicated to the pulmonary loop, carrying oxygen-depleted blood away from the heart to the lungs and returning oxygenated blood back to the heart. The other pump would drive the systemic loop, carrying oxygenated blood away from the heart to the body and returning deoxygenated blood back to the heart.

Franchek’s and Metcalfe’s roles in the project will focus on the mathematical modeling of the cardiovascular system to create a feedback controller that will seamlessly integrate the device with a recipient’s body. The overarching goal is to create a robust continuous-flow ventricular assist device that is smaller and more reliable than the current pulsating pumps that mimic the natural heart. The mathematical models of the cardiovascular system also will be evaluated as a possible means to health prognostics and diagnostics. In addition, information from the controllers will be used to assess current conditions of the blood, including viscosity, which is critical to maintaining patient health.

The UH professors are among those named on a $2.8 million federal grant from the National Institutes of Health. During the next four years, Franchek and Metcalfe will work alongside the lead investigator and inventor of the proposed TAH, Dr. O.H. “Bud” Frazier, chief of the Center for Cardiac Support and director of surgical research at the Texas Heart Institute, as well as professors from Rice University, other Texas Heart Institute physicians and researchers from MicroMed Technology of Houston, to create this breakthrough device.

“We are very much looking forward to a long-term collaboration with this excellent biomedical engineering team and to the potential development of an effective, reliable mechanical replacement for the failing human heart,” says Metcalfe, who also is a professor of biomedical engineering and mathematics. “With heart disease being the leading cause of death in the United States, this is crucial research that constantly needs fresh approaches and interaction across disciplines.”

Echoing his colleague, Franchek, who is the director of UH’s biomedical engineering program and chair of the mechanical engineering department, adds, “What we have here is a good partnership between engineers and physicians. We are harvesting knowledge from a fertile ground where many new discoveries lie, and at the end of the day our goal is to improve many people’s quality of life.”

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Photos of Matt Franchek and Ralph Metcalfe with a device similar to the new one being developed are available on the Web at http://www.uh.edu/news-events/archive/nr/2008/10oct/artificial-heart-technologyph.html. High-resolution photos are available by contacting Lisa Merkl.

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 36,000 students.

About the Cullen College of Engineering
The Cullen College of Engineering at UH has produced five U.S. astronauts, 10 members of the National Academy of Engineering, and degree programs that have ranked in the top 10 nationally. With more than 2,600 students, the college offers accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees in biomedical, chemical, civil and environmental, electrical and computer, industrial, and mechanical engineering. It also offers specialized programs in aerospace, materials, petroleum engineering and telecommunications.

To receive UH science news via e-mail, visit http://www.uh.edu/news-events/archive/sciencelist.html.
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