Concordia researchers exploring new health care treatments

A number of ongoing research projects from professors at Concordia University Wisconsin are exploring new health care treatments and delivery models.

Daniel Sem is a professor of business and pharmaceutical sciences at the Mequon university, and the dean of the Batterman School of Business. He and fellow researchers have developed a modified molecule of estrogen, which shows promise in treating dementia in women.

Sem has secured multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health, the most recent of which was first awarded in fall 2015. That three-year grant was just renewed last fall.

And in July 2018, Sem founded a startup called Estrigenix Therapeutics alongside Karyn Frick of UW-Milwaukee and William Donaldson of Marquette University.

The current standard of treatment for postmenopausal women with dementia is hormone replacement therapy, which carries some health risks.

The compound developed by Sem and others has been found to boost memory “without the risk of cancer,” according to a release from CUW. It was tested using mouse models of menopause at Frick’s lab in Milwaukee, after first being developed at Marquette.

Another project, focused on in-home health care, pulls together many specialists from the university’s schools of nursing, health professions and pharmacy.

Starting in spring 2018, faculty from those schools started working with Fresh Meals on Wheels of Sheboygan County to perform health assessments for people who can’t leave home for medical reasons.

Funding for this project comes from the Council of Independent Colleges’ Intergenerational Connections: Students Serving Older Adults program. That in turn gets funding from the AARP Foundation.

A third research effort, The Satori Food Project, aims to give mental health patients an alternative route to self-medication.

Project leaders are: Kwadwo Owusu-Ofori, pharmacy fellow; Michael Pickart, associate professor of pharmaceutical science; and Christopher Cunningham, associate professor of pharmaceutical science.

Owusu-Ofori began the project in 2012, with a goal of producing “medical foods” that could replace some medications. According to the release, this would help patients sidestep some unwanted side effects while getting treatment for anxiety and concentration disorders.