MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University School of Pharmacy Ph.D. student Sandipan Bhattacharjee is a recipient of the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) 2012 Student Paper Competition award.Sandipan Bhattacharjee

Bhattacharjee was given the opportunity to present his research at APHA’s 140th annual meeting in San Francisco on Oct. 30. The award was presented to five students nationwide after all submissions had been extensively reviewed.

Bhattacharjee presented his research, “Electronic Medical Records and Identification of Individuals with Morbid Obesity in a Rural Appalachian Population.” He conducted his research under the mentorship of Usha Sambamoorthi, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Systems and Policy.

The purpose of Bhattacharjee’s project was to examine how Body Mass Index (BMI) is documented in Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) in the Appalachian region and then evaluate if the documentation in EMRs is helpful to physicians and other health care professionals in providing better care to patients.

The rate of obesity is significantly higher in the Appalachian region compared to the U.S. national average, and obesity can cause a number of health conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. By documenting BMI in Electronic Medical Records, physicians and health care professionals can provide additional care to patients by monitoring their weight, providing patient counseling, providing follow-up care to those who need it and monitoring if any other health conditions caused by obesity start to appear.

Bhattacharjee says health outcomes research is one of the most important and beneficial aspects of the health care industry as research in this area can greatly improve the delivery of health care.

“Improvements in public health ensure that many chronic disease conditions are prevented, which in turn can produce returns to society in the form of decreases in illnesses and deaths, having a better quality of life and increased productivity of citizens,” Bhattacharjee said.

Bhattacharjee is a student in the Health Outcomes Research pathway of the Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences program where his focus includes Pharmacoeconomics and Health Services Research. The Health Outcomes Research Ph.D. pathway focuses on the results of healthcare treatments as they relate to the improvement of patient care and quality of life, decreasing morbidity and mortality, health policy research and cost effectiveness of treatments.

Others who provided valuable input for the project include Chancellor for Health Sciences Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H.; S. Suresh Madhavan, Ph.D. professor and chair of the WVU School of Pharmacy Department of Pharmaceutical Systems and Policy; and Jeff Cox and Michael Denney of the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute (WV CTSI).

For more information: Amy Newton, School of Pharmacy, 304-293-7192