Ball State: New Clinical Trials Examine How Exercise Helps Us Down to Our Molecules

Todd Trappe (left) and Scott Trappe (right) work on a research project at Ball State’s Human Performance Laboratory.

Ball State University will partner with two other major research institutions as part of a national project to uncover how exercise changes the body on a molecular level, which could lead to people engaging in more targeted and optimized activities.

Ball State’s Human Performance Laboratory (HPL) will form one clinical trial site with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Center for Exercise Medicine and the Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes in Orlando, Florida. Their work is part of the Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity in Humans program (MoTrPac), which will be financed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund.

The three partners will share a projected $6.6 million over six years, 2017-23, as part of a $170 million NIH investment for the largest, most complex and highly coordinated human exercise physiology training study in the field’s history.

“The NIH initiative is a moonshot opportunity for the exercise community, and the Human Performance Laboratory is honored to be part of the team,” said Scott Trappe, the John and Janice Fisher Endowed Chair of Exercise Science and director of the Human Performance Laboratory in Ball State’s newly formed College of Health. “This is a new frontier that will move the field forward to better understand the health benefits of exercise.”

Under the $170 million project, 19 grants will support researchers working around the country, including seven clinical trial sites and several analytical sites to collect samples from people of different races, ethnic groups, sex, ages and fitness levels.

“We have long understood that exercising is beneficial to our overall health; however, we still do not understand why,” NIH director Francis S. Collins said in a statement. “The development of a so-called molecular map of circulating signals produced by physical activity will allow us to discover, at a fundamental level, how physical activity affects our health.

Under the national research initiative, researchers will partner to develop plans to recruit people for clinical trials, identify how to analyze tissue samples and select animal models to best replicate human studies.

Investigators across the country will recruit a total of about 3,000 healthy men and women of different fitness levels, ages, races and ethnicities. Each clinical site will enroll and study 450 to 500 participants. Researchers will collect blood, urine and tissue samples from the volunteers, who will perform resistance or aerobic exercises as part of the national study.

During the first year, clinical site teams will finalize plans and responsibilities. Trappe said HPL will quickly ramp up operations, including adding more researchers and post-doctoral students, to begin work in 2017. He will be a co-director of the test site; Todd Trappe, a Ball State exercise science professor, will be a co-principal investigator for the site.

Toby Chambers, a first-year doctoral student in Ball State’s human bioenergetics program, believes the NIH project underscores the national reputations Ball State and HPL have developed.

“As a doctoral student in the Human Performance Laboratory, I am really excited about the learning opportunities that will result from the research team’s involvement,” he said. “The unique opportunities this presents to the research team are why individuals, like myself, continue to be attracted to the HPL at Ball State.”

Indiana Chamber, Ball State Announce Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Index for Hoosier Communities

An old proverb, first printed in 1639, says: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” In today’s state and national economies, the assertion is that the healthier the residents are, the wealthier and wiser they and the broader community will also be.

The Ball State University Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) created the Healthy, Wealthy, Wise Index for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, its Foundation and the Wellness Council of Indiana to emphasize the critical importance of the health factor. The Index will serve as a valuable measuring tool for the Wellness Council’s Indiana Healthy Community initiative.

The Wellness Council of Indiana is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indiana Chamber.

“Health is a key success factor to learning and wealth,” says Wellness Council of Indiana Executive Director Chuck Gillespie. “Community leaders and business decision makers need to understand why ‘healthy’ must be a big priority in order to ensure the vitality of their communities and workplaces.”

Thirty indicators – 15 health, six wealth and nine wise – were selected to establish the three indices. Results among all 92 counties and, separately, the 50 states are divided into quartiles, with those in the fourth quartile having the strongest performance.

“Our research also found there are major policy implications,” states Michael Hicks, the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Economics in the Miller College of Business and director of CBER. “There is a huge disparity in health and health care costs associated with preventable diseases in Indiana, especially across rural and urban settings. With this information, local governments can partner with businesses and non-profits to figure out how wellness can be more effectively spread throughout our communities.”

The Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 (www.indianachamber.com/2025) economic development action plan for the state includes four drivers, with three health-related goals under the Attractive Business Climate section (along with the direct correlation of the Wise index to the plan’s goals under Outstanding Talent). While the state has fared well in tax, regulatory and other areas in enhancing its business climate, the unhealthy state of the population is a costly and dangerous outlier.

The Indiana Chamber and allies have formed the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana to tackle health care challenges, with an initial legislative focus on reducing smoking. Nearly one-quarter of the adult population in Indiana smokes at an annual cost of $6 billion in additional health care expenditures and lost productivity.

“The Wellness Council has focused on creating and maintaining well workplaces throughout its history,” Gillespie shares. “The Indiana Healthy Community initiative is an important step to embracing and working toward community-wide health improvements. Healthy citizens are essential to Hoosiers being prepared to learn and work at their highest capabilities. Leaders are encouraged to use these findings in assessing the current status of their communities.”

Srikant Devaraj, CBER research assistant professor, adds, “This research found that there is a strong correlation between the built environment – the man-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity – and the places where people are moving, implying that households put more value on the recreational amenities. Infrastructure related to traditional wellness activities, such as trails, playgrounds, parks and open green space matters more than ever in where people and subsequently businesses relocate.”

Counties that score highly in all three indices include Bartholomew, Dearborn, Dubois, Kosciusko and those surrounding Indianapolis. As suggested by earlier research, rural areas do not fare as well as urban settings. There are examples of high and low performers in close proximity to each other. Nationally, success is varied with Indiana having a below median health index and above median wealthy and wise results.

The Healthy, Wealthy, Wise Index is available at www.wellnessindiana.org, www.readyindiana.org and www.bsu.edu/cber/publications. The Ball State site includes full index scores for each county and state.

To be considered an Indiana Healthy Community, communities must apply to the Wellness Council of Indiana and meet eight key components, including working with various community leaders, getting citizens involved, analyzing political atmospheres and ensuring environments are best for making healthy choices. Part of the requirements include having a certain number of businesses certified as AchieveWELL companies, a Wellness Council designation for individual organizations

Locations interested in becoming Indiana Healthy Communities can visit the Wellness Council web site for more information and to apply.

Report: Work Share Program Would Have Positive Impact on Indiana

CYNJvbRUoAA_kOmA new report released today by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce encourages the state to implement a voluntary work share program, labeling it “a clear stabilizer during a business cycle.” Work share would enable employees to stay on their job at reduced hours during tough economic times and collect partial unemployment compensation.

The policy – currently in place in more than half the states – has enjoyed support on both sides of the aisle the last few years, but has yet to make much progress in the state Legislature. The Indiana Chamber hopes this research, led by Michael Hicks of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University, will help get the ball rolling to pass work share legislation. The research was conducted at the request of the Indiana Chamber Foundation and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The overriding conclusion reached by Hicks is that a “work share program would reduce business costs for participating firms by reducing search and hiring costs, and would stabilize families and communities.”

He continues, “We anticipate that unemployment and earnings will suffer less volatility associated with an economic downturn. This may have longer term impacts by reducing long-term unemployment and increasing consumer spending and growth in sales tax revenues over the short run.”

The report notes that the manufacturing sector, particularly the medium-sized manufacturing firms, would be the ones using the program the most. Indiana remains the most manufacturing intensive state in the country.

These findings confirm what advocates have been saying for several years, remarks Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

“The benefits are real and significant. Work share allows employers to maintain a skilled, trained and stable workforce, while at the same time, employees keep their jobs and benefits instead of facing unemployment and further financial uncertainty.

“There is no negative impact on the state’s unemployment insurance fund,” he offers. “Instead of paying full benefits to a smaller group of recipients, a larger group of employees will receive reduced benefits.”

Here’s an example of how a work share program unfolds. Instead of laying off 10 workers due to decreased demand, a company could keep the full workforce in place but reduce the hours of 40 workers by 25%. The impacted employees would receive three-quarters of their normal salary, as well as be eligible for partial unemployment insurance benefits to supplement their reduced paycheck and keep full benefits.

Brinegar explains that “work share is generally a temporary solution used by employers for no more than six months during an economic slowdown.”

Tom Easterday, executive vice president for Subaru of Indiana Automotive in Lafayette, believes now – while the state’s economic picture is still bright – is the perfect time to enact a work share program.

“If we wait until there’s another economic downturn to take action, then it will be too late. Businesses across Indiana may already be impacted and jobs will be in jeopardy. Now is the time to prepare by implementing an efficient and effective workshare program, so it’s in place when needed.”

In the report, Hicks replays the unfortunate domino effect that took place in Kokomo in 2009 when two large automakers (GM and Fiat-Chrysler) suspended manufacturing for two months. While they could afford to continue employment due to their cash reserves, their large supply chain of smaller companies could not and were forced to lay off employees.

“Work share would have likely enabled some of these operations to continue at a slower pace. … The commercial benefits would have accrued primarily to these smaller manufacturing firms and would likely have stabilized the Kokomo economy significantly during this time.”

Brinegar reveals that early estimates place the annual costs to establish and operate a work share program in Indiana to be between $1 million and $1.5 million. He believes a nominal yearly surcharge of $10-$15 for those Hoosier businesses currently paying into the unemployment insurance fund would reach that amount and make the most sense.

“The amount is so small, especially for the possible benefits to an employer down the road,” he begins. “This group also received a per employee break recently when the state executed the early payoff of the federal unemployment insurance loan. This saved each business more than $126 per employee.”

Establishing a work share program in the state is one of the Indiana Chamber’s 2016 top legislative priorities.

The work share research document is available at www.indianachamber.com/labor.

Teacher Shortage Concerns at Forefront of Interim Study Group

Portrait of students taking notes while their classmate is raising his hand

A popular phrase in Indiana these days is the term “teacher shortage.” So much so that the Indiana General Assembly leadership asked the Education Interim Study Committee to schedule an extra meeting on Oct.19 to discuss this issue.

This marathon committee hearing lasted close to nine hours and featured testimony from many people (both from Indiana and around the country). Data is often conflicting – while there may be fewer potential teachers applying to education schools, it seems to be that there are pockets of shortages (in STEM, special education and secondary schools). (In fact, a Michael Hicks/Ball State study released last Wednesday said there was actually a surplus of teachers, except for these specialty areas). Emphasis was also provided – with bipartisan support – on the importance of mentoring, as well as flexibility of teacher pay and grant incentive programs in shortage areas.

The study committee proposed 20 recommendations to be put into its final report of the year – of which 17 were agreed upon. But this does not mean that they might turn into actual legislation during the 2016 General Assembly session. Many of these recommendations dealt with further study, but the biggest recommendation called for new money to be used to increase salaries for teachers and other educators for the first 10 years of their career. However, the 2016 legislative session is not a budget session, which essentially handcuffs the ability to propose any new funding.

All in all, while we do not expect the 2016 legislative session to be dubbed another “education session,” we should anticipate some comprehensive bills when it comes to testing, accountability and teacher shortage solutions. The Indiana Chamber is immersed in these policy issues and is in constant contact with policymakers to ensure that we are part of those discussions.

Indiana Schools Earn Campus Technology Innovators Awards

Campus Technology, one of the top information sources for higher education news, recently presented its annual Innovators Awards. Four of the 12 national awards presented went to universities in the Hoosier state.

IT Infrastructure and Systems
Indiana University
Project: One.IU (OneCampus)
Project Lead: Eric Westfall, enterprise software architect
Vendors/technologies: Developed in-house, rSmart

Category description: IT Infrastructure and Systems (including, but not limited to): learning management systems; collaboration technologies and environments; learning space design/architecture/smart classrooms; classroom management and control systems; data security and authentication; networking; SaaS and cloud computing; telecommunications; digital repositories/digital libraries; high-performance computing; green technologies; disaster recovery and business continuity; help desk.


Student Systems and Services
Ball State University
Project: Ball State Achievements
Project Lead: Kay Bales, vice president for student affairs and dean of students
Vendors/technologies: Developed in-house

Category description: Student Systems and Services (including, but not limited to): technology for career services; advising/online advising; technology for housing; physical security and emergency planning; eTextbooks/bookstore; instructional resources and library services; recruitment/eRecruitment.


Teaching and Learning
University of Notre Dame
Project: E-Portfolios With Evidenced-Based Badges
Project Lead: G. Alex Ambrose, associate professor of the practice and associate director of e-portfolio assessment
Vendors/technologies: Credly, Digication

Category description: Teaching and Learning (including, but not limited to): learning design/instructional design; immersive technologies; social software, Web 2.0; mobile learning; teaching in the smart classroom; collaboration tools; student assessment; student ePortfolios; lecture capture; eLearning; accessibility.


Education Futurists
Ball State University
Project: The Traveler
Project Lead: Kyle Parker, senior software engineer for developing technologies
Vendors/technologies: Developed in-house

Category description: Education Futurists (including, but not limited to): visionary learning technology development; new program development; institutional reformation; trend spotters: technology and society.

No Easy Answers: Charting the Future of Higher Ed

higher edFor a century, Hoosiers didn’t need a college degree to make a good living. But with the manufacturing-based economy changing dramatically and giving way, in part, to the knowledge-based economy, you can’t make that case anymore.

Amid the backdrop of an increased emphasis on postsecondary education, we turn to three recognized leaders in the higher education community to discuss the current climate and what needs to happen next:

A quick survey of the college landscape reveals some obvious challenges: rising tuition, student debt and getting more students to complete their degree. The latter is the focal point for Jones and his organization.

“We know that completion rates at most colleges in the country don’t exceed 50%. So the freshman class looks very good in terms of numbers and in terms of diversity, but in the graduating class we only have about half of those students there – and we’ve lost a lot of the diversity that we set out to accomplish. So that’s a huge challenge,” he offers.

Read the rest of the BizVoice magazine article. And be sure to check out the NEW July/August edition at www.bizvoicemagazine.com.

Report: American Manufacturing is Still Alive and Well

According to a report from Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) and Conexus Indiana, the American manufacturing industry is hardly in the downward spiral that some have projected — and they anticipate openings for new manufacturing jobs will range from 80,000 to 150,000 per year over the next 10 years.

“There are major misunderstandings among the public and the media about the manufacturing sector,” said Michael Hicks, director of CBER and the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Economics at Ball State. “The U.S. manufacturing base is not in decline, and we have recovered from the recession. Nor are jobs being outsourced because American manufacturing can’t compete internationally. Moreover, new jobs in manufacturing pay well above the average wage.”

The study notes that the Great Recession had lost its stranglehold by 2014, when U.S. manufacturers attained record levels of production.

“Changes in productivity, domestic demand and foreign trade all impact manufacturing employment in the U.S.,” Hicks said, “and it’s important to clarify those impacts in order to understand what is happening in the manufacturing and logistics industries.”

The study also found that:
• More than 87 percent of manufacturing job losses are due to productivity gains, including better supply chains, more capital investment and advanced technology.
• Only 4 percent of manufacturing jobs have been lost to international trade (also known as outsourcing) since 2000.
• Since the end of the Great Recession in 2009, the economy has added 750,000 manufacturing jobs.
• The biggest job losses occurred in low productivity sectors with low transportation costs.

The report points out baby boom generation retirees are leaving behind good, well-paying jobs in those sectors, and younger workers are filling those jobs at an unprecedented rate. Recent new hire salaries averaged $20.06 per hour — almost $42,000 a year. As millennials move into the workforce, wage gaps between new and existing jobs are primarily age- and tenure-related, he said.

The report, “The Myth and the Reality of Manufacturing in America,” and the individual state report cards may be found online.

Ball State Communications Program Gets Even Better with Studio Upgrade

CA33pVcU0AACwpVBall State’s reputation for offering top shelf communications curricula is impressive — especially when it comes to sports programming. The school just issued a release on its new Unified Media Lab (UML), and it looks like another state of the art addition to this tremendous program:

Ball State University students are producing a wide range of programing in the newly opened Video News Studio, the final piece of the $4 million Unified Media Lab (UML).

With many of the same features found in the newest professional broadcast studios, the Video News Studio includes green screen technology, animated graphics and other special effects, as well as an audio production booth for radio programming and podcasts.

Ball State President Paul W. Ferguson said the new studio within UML makes the university a national model in the educational experience for future journalists and strategic communicators.

During his recent State of the University address, Ferguson unveiled the Centennial Commitment strategic plan, which includes the three major themes of being student centered, community engaged and a model 21st century public research university. Entrepreneurial learning is a hallmark, built upon such experiences as those available in the Unified Media Lab and nearby facilities.

“This facility will enhance the education of not only journalists but the next generation of communication professionals,” Ferguson said. “Collaboration, problem-solving and critical thinking skills are essential for today’s job market, and this Unified Media Lab provides our students with more opportunities that will make them even more prepared for the ever-changing workplace.”

More than an innovative facility, the UML provides a centralized and immersive newsroom to educate future journalists in solid writing, reporting and storytelling through collaborative, cross-platform media organizations. It offers nearly 50 writing and editing stations for student-run media outlets. There is also a digital news desk to coordinate collaboration and classroom seating for an immersive learning experience.

“This newly completed lab is just part of a combination of integrated course work, sophisticated facilities, engaged faculty and immersive experiences to prepare today’s journalists for competitive and rapidly changing industries,” said Roger Lavery, dean of Ball State’s College of Communication, Information, and Media (CCIM).

Student media operate independently and as cross-platform production teams. There are a printed newspaper, a printed magazine, daily television news programming, a radio station as well as online properties for each of these. The students also provide content for a central news website, Ball State Daily, and an app that offers breaking news, feature stories, commentary and a variety of multimedia content about campus life and surrounding communities.

Adjacent to UML, the Unified Media Advertising Sales and Creative Suite houses a team learning about advertising, sales and how to harness data to grow audiences and drive results. Student sales executives work with real clients, close deals and produce results.

Along the same corridor on the second floor of the Art and Journalism Building, the recently opened Holden Strategic Communications Center fosters a similar collaborative environment for public relations and advertising students. It is the home of two student-run agencies, Cardinal Communications and Adapt, as well as the student chapters of the Public Relations Student Society of America and the American Advertising Federation.

Ball State’s Namesakes Subjects of New Documentary to Premiere Sept. 25

Ball State University has become a state institution with quite a reputation for producing very skilled graduates. But you might not know much about its history. A group of students hope to remedy that with a new film project. Ball State reports:

A student-produced documentary will explore the impact the five Ball brothers have had on east central Indiana since the 1880s, when they moved their glass manufacturing business from Buffalo to Muncie — transforming the community into an industrial force in the Midwest. “A Legacy Etched in Glass: The Ball Brothers in Muncie” is an immersive learning project by Ball State University under the direction of Chris Flook, a telecommunications instructor. The film explores the lives of the five brothers, the family legacy in Muncie and the core values that propelled them to success: hard work, philanthropy, entrepreneurship and beneficence. The story weaves cinematography, motion graphic animation and archived material with interviews from historians. Building their factories on the south of side of Muncie, the Ball brothers expanded their operations enormously over several decades in the early 20th century. Even after the natural gas ran out, Ball Corp. continued to produce glass in Muncie well into the 20th century. Ball Corp. spun off two enterprises — today known as Jarden and the Ardagh Group — before moving fully to Colorado in the late 1990s. Ball Corp. currently focuses on avionics and beverage container manufacturing. “Legacy” not only explores the lives of all five brothers, their wives and other family members, but it also explores the wide-ranging philanthropic efforts of the family in Muncie over the past 120 years. The documentary will have its public premiere at 6 p.m. Sept. 25 at Minnetrista.

Watch a preview of the documentary, and learn more about the project online.

Chris Flook, who also serves as executive producer, may be reached at caflook@bsu.edu or 765-730-0841.

Throwback Thursday: Hail to Halloween!

You like Halloween? You should; it's a fantastic holiday. Granted, it promotes childhood obesity, but vampires, werewolves, witchcraft and sticking your head in a trash can in pursuit of floating apples is the best! The Batesville Herald-Tribune helps us understand where all these whacky rituals came from.

Many rituals now commonplace during the Halloween season may have originated with the culture of the ancient Celts and their priests, the druids. Other civilizations adopted and changed the ancient rituals, such as bobbing for apples or donning disguises.

“Our Halloween celebrations are the remnants of the ancient pre-Christian Celtic celebrations,” said Fred Suppe, a Ball State history professor and an expert in Celtic folklore.

“The Celts can be traced back to 800 B.C. to what is now southern Germany and include the ancestors of the Scottish, Irish, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and Bretons. There are particular motifs of modern-day Halloween, such as the date and time it is celebrated, children trick-or-treating, the jack-o-lantern and bobbing for apples that are related to Celtic traditions.”

When Christianity was introduced to the Celtic people, church leaders tried to persuade the Celts to abandon their pagan celebrations and adopt the Christian calendar. Because these traditions were culturally ingrained, the church provided alternative holy days such as All Saints’ Day Nov. 1.

“The evening before All Saints’ Day became ‘Hallow’s Eve,’ with the word hallow meaning holy or saint and eve meaning the night before,” Suppe says. “Hallow’s Eve evolved to Halloween.”

Another origin for trick-or-treating comes from Scotland, where young men in their late teens donned disguises after the harvest.

“The Celts called them ‘guisers,’ which is where we get the word geezer,” he said, “The guisers would march around a house and demand hospitality, which evolved into small children asking for treats.”