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News Release

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
3003 N. Charles Street, Suite 100
Baltimore, Maryland 21218-3843
Phone: (410) 516-7160 | Fax (410) 516-5251

April 6, 2001
CONTACT: Glenn Small

Southend Native Presents Research at
Undergraduate Award Ceremony

Lisa Wood, a native of Southend in Essex, England, was one of 43 Johns Hopkins undergraduates to present her research findings at a recent ceremony in Baltimore. As a winner of the prestigious Provost Undergraduate Research Award, Wood was given up to $2,500 to do an advanced research project.

Wood, a nursing student, created a database of children treated at a Baltimore clinic to measure the level of lead poisoning, which is a problem in older, industrialized cities in the United States. She got the idea for her project while working one day a week at the School of Nursing's Lillian D. Wald Community Health Center on Rutland Avenue, south of the university's medical campus in East Baltimore.

As she worked to help service the health center's clients, those who are without health insurance or between health insurance coverages, she became intrigued by the fact that the health center had been screening children for lead exposure since it opened its doors in 1996.

What if you entered all of that information into a database, she thought? What could be learned about lead exposure among those children coming into the clinic? Would it show levels decreasing, as more public attention and prevention programs focused on lead paint exposure?

Wood, who may be the only provost award winner with a PhD (hers is in molecular biology), applied for the grant and spent last summer entering five years' worth of patient data into a specialized database software program. In all, she catalogued the results of 350 children tested for lead exposure between 1995 and 2000 and her results are interesting.

Whereas high lead levels have been falling in Baltimore City overall and in the state of Maryland, the levels are staying the same or even increasing in the children tested at the Wald Center.

For example, in Baltimore City, the average number of children who test positive for high levels of lead in their blood is 22 percent of those tested. But she found that in 1999, for example, of those children screened at the Wald Center, 37 percent were found to have high lead levels. "We're not seeing the decreases that the city and the rest of the state" are seeing, Wood said. After receiving her bachelor's degree in nursing from Johns Hopkins--and gaining clinical exposure and experience- -Wood has returned to the lab, where she is doing research in pediatric hematology. She's heading off to Portland, Ore., this summer to continue her research. But she hopes to leave her database behind, so that members of the Wald Clinic staff can continue to enter new data and track lead exposure over time.

The Johns Hopkins University is recognized as the country's first graduate research university, and has been in recent years the leader among the nation's research universities in winning federal research and development grants.

The opportunity to be involved in important research is one of the distinguishing characteristics of an undergraduate education at Johns Hopkins. About 80 percent of the university's undergraduates engage in some form of independent research during their four years, most often alongside top researchers in their fields.

The Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards is one of these research opportunities, open to students in each of the university's four schools with full- time undergraduates: the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering, the Peabody Conservatory and the School of Nursing. Since 1993, about 40 students each year have been awarded up to $2,500 to propose and conduct original research, some results of which have been published in professional journals. The awards, begun by then provost Joseph Cooper and funded through a donation from the Hodson Trust, are an important part of the university's commitment to research.

Return to Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards news release.

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