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November 25, 2009
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Indiana ranked No. 35—unchanged from last year—on UnitedHealth Foundation’s annual state-by-state ranking of overall public health. While Indiana ranks higher than it did three years ago, the state actually fell five places since UnitedHealth started compiling the ranking in 1990. Since then, obesity in Indiana has surged 130 percent while smoking rates have been stuck for a decade at 26 percent. UnitedHealth’s report says Indiana has good rates of health insurance coverage and does a good job of limiting infectious diseases. But the state suffers from poor air quality and very low public-health funding. The UnitedHealth Foundation is an arm of Minnesota-based health insurer UnitedHealth Group.

Researchers at Purdue University have shown how an experimental drug might restore the function of nerves damaged in spinal-cord injuries and could also treat multiple sclerosis. The experimental compound, 4-aminopyridine-3-methyl hydroxide, has been shown to restore function to damaged axons—slender fibers that extend from nerve cells and transmit electrical impulses in the spinal cord. The researchers’ findings, based on experiments with guinea pig spinal-cord tissue, appeared online Nov. 18 in the Journal of Neurophysiology.

Dr. John Hayes, vice president of Eli Lilly and Co.’s research laboratories and the company’s neuroscience branding leader, will deliver a keynote speech on the possibilities for neuroscience development in Indiana as part of the Neuroscience Summit organization by the Indiana Health Industry Forum. The summit will occur Dec. 4 at University Place Conference Center at IUPUI.

The merged operations of Carmel-based BehaviorCorp and Anderson-based Center for Mental Health will adopt the name Aspire Indiana Behavioral Health System on Jan. 1. The new organization has more than 400 mental health professionals and supporting staff members. Aspire Indiana will serve primarily patients in Madison, Hamilton, Boone and northern Marion counties.

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