Supporting Research, Innovation, and Education in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Projects Funded by the Portes Foundation

Recent Projects

The Portes Foundation supports the work of researchers, educators, and clinicians from academic centers such as medical schools, nursing schools, allied health programs, institutes that do work in health care delivery research and development, and special interest groups within specialty societies as well as other organizations and individuals from group practice settings with an interest in health maintenance and disease prevention.  See examples of recently funded projects below.  Scroll to the bottom of this page for a year-by-year listing of funded projects.

A Novel Approach to Making Drinking Water Safe in Western Kenya
Sam Dorevitch, MD, MHP – UIC School of Public Health

In low-income countries, an estimated 1.7 billion cases of acute diarrhea occur among children under 5 years of age, resulting in approximately 711,000 deaths, half of them in Sub-Saharan Africa. Recurrent and chronic diarrhea in children are a major cause of “stunting,” the impaired physical and cognitive development of malnourished children. Inadequate water and sanitation account for half of the deaths from diarrhea among children in Sub-Saharan Africa. A major challenge in preventing death and chronic morbidity in children is the lack of centralized water and sanitation treatment facilities in rural areas of low-income nations. Point of use (PoU) treatment of household stored water has been a promoted as a means of improving drinking water quality. The addition of chlorine to stored water – the main PoU approach – does reduce concentrations of E. coli in stored water; under ‘real-life’ conditions, chlorination is difficult to maintain due to the taste, ongoing cost, and need for a reliable supply chain for chlorine. A novel, solar-powered approach to PoU water treatment was tested by a group at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and at the Safe Water and AIDS Project (SWAP) in Kisumu, Kenya. Using electricity generated by a low-cost solar panel, oxygen in ambient air (O2) is converted to ozone (O3) and the ozone – a water treatment method approved by the US EPA – is bubbled through stored drinking water. In order to determine whether this PoU approach will reduce rates of childhood diarrhea and stunting, a large-scale, multi-year, multi-million dollar study is needed. Before a study of that scale can be considered, a smaller scale assessment of the solar powered PoU method and diarrhea incidence was carried out to evaluate whether diarrhea occurrence among children in Western Kenya is a function of water quality and/or PoU solar-powered ozonation. 


Overview of Funded Projects by Year

  • Serum Markers of Ovarian Cancer-associated Malignant Changes in the Oviductal Fimbria (Animesh Barua – Principal Investigator) 
  • Randomized Prospective Trial of Radiofrequency Ablation vs. Phenol Neurotomy of Ganglion Impar for Cancer Related Rectal Pain (Heejung Choi – Principal Investigator)
  • Longitudinal Assessment of Respiratory Support Used in Pediatric Oncology Patients with Acute Respiratory Failure (Jason Kane – Principal Investigator)
  • Blind Spots: An Investigation of Parent and Adolescent Perspectives on Youth Mental Health Care Preferences (Marie E. Hefferman – Principal Investigator) 
  • Reducing COVID 19 health disparities by linking Chicagoans to medical homes: Understanding Chicagoans’ barriers to having an established primary care provider (Ann Maria Murphy and David Ansell – Principal Investigators) 
  • Clinical model of bedside delivery of pharmacy meds (Tran H. Tran – Principal Investigator)
  • Predicting ovarian cancer outcome by elucidating myeloid derived suppressor cell function (Maureen L. Drakes (Principal Investigator)
  • Begin a naloxone distribution protocol in the UIC Adult Emergency Department (Vineet Aroma – Principal Investigator)
  • Improve detection of suicide risk
    through novel ambulatory psychophysiology tools to measure fluctuations in suicidal
    ideation in the context of daily life, among individuals with a history of depression (Jonathan Stange – Principal Investigator)
  • A Novel Approach to Making Drinking Water Safe in Western Kenya (Sam Dorevitch – Principal Investigator)
  • Schizophrenia, suicidality, and socio-economic status (Kalman J. Kaplan – Principal Investigator)
  • Emergency Preparedness Communications (Cook County Department of Public Health)
  • Health Behavior Promotion and Chronic Illness Prevention in Primary Care: Stakeholder Perceptions of Screening and Behavioral Health Integration (Erin Emery-Tiburcio and Laurin Mack – Principal Investigators)

  • “Assessing the needs of key stakeholders for a web-based instrument for screening and monitoring of behaviorally and mediated disorders in primary care that accommodates patients with sensory and motor impairments as well as technological naiveté” (Erin Emery-Tiburcio, PhD and Laurin Mack, PhD – Rush University Medical Center)

  • “The Effectiveness of an Online Course for the Interpretation of the Fiberoptic Endoscopic Exam of the Swallow” (Noel Rao, MD – Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital)

  • “IT innovations for the development and maintenance of a colon cancer screening registry” (Ena Mahapatra, MD, MS – John H. Stroger, Jr Cook County Hospital)

  • “Improving knowledge about distracted driving among college and university students” (Lawrence C. Vogel, MD – Shriners Hospitals for Children)

  • Community Health Worker Research and Evaluation (Sinai Urban Health Institute)
  • Community Engagement and Medical School Student Education for Child Health Promotion (Southern Illinois University)
  • Urban Medicine’s Longitudinal Community Rotation: Promoting Health/Preventing Disease in Urban Underserved Communities (UIC College of Medicine)
  • Krill Oil for HIV-Related Inflammation (Rush University Medical Center)
  • Development of a Lifestyle Medicine Curricular Thread for Medical Students (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)