‘Best Research Papers’ recognition spotlights impactful research

Published research articles on COVID-19, Parkinson’s disease, and hybrid learning were selected as part of a University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine initiative to recognize impactful scholarly works by the college’s faculty and staff.

In fall 2021, Carver College of Medicine leaders launched the “Best Research Papers” initiative to spotlight faculty and staff who served as authors on articles published in peer-reviewed journals over the past year. Awards were presented in three categories: basic, clinical, and educational research.

Best Basic Research Paper
Best Clinical Research Paper
Best Educational Research Paper

The announcement of three new “Best Research Papers” award recipients marks the beginning of a new, annual springtime tradition in the Carver College of Medicine.

“Research is a hallmark of the University of Iowa, and I continue to be impressed by the quality and significance of the scientific literature produced by Carver College of Medicine faculty and staff,” says Brooks Jackson, MD, vice president for medical affairs and the Tyrone D. Artz Dean. “Our investigators do an outstanding job of publishing work that generates new knowledge and advances biomedical science.”

Here are the latest “Best Research Papers” honorees:

Basic research

Title of Paper

COVID-19 Treatments and Pathogenesis Including Anosmia in K18-hACE2 Mice


Zheng J, Wong LR, Li K, Verma AK, Ortiz ME, Wohlford-Lenane C, Leidinger MR, Knudson CM, Meyerholz DK, McCray PB Jr, Perlman S. COVID-19 treatments and pathogenesis including anosmia in K18-hACE2 mice. Nature. 2021 Jan;589(7843):603-607.

Senior author

Stanley Perlman, MD, PhD, professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Lead authors

Jian Zheng, PhD, assistant research scientist, Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Lok-Yin Roy Wong, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow, Department of Microbiology and Immunology


Many pathogenic mechanisms of COVID-19 remain undetermined. This paper used K18-hACE2 transgenic mice that were originally developed by the same group to follow several aspects of human disease, including pathological effects in the lung and brain. Infected mice also could develop blood clots, vasculitis, and loss-of-smell, demonstrating K18-hACE2 mice provide a useful model for studying the pathological basis of both mild and lethal COVID-19 and for assessing therapeutic interventions.

Clinical research

Title of Paper

Association of Glycolysis-Enhancing α-1 Blockers with Risk of Developing Parkinson Disease


Simmering JE, Welsh MJ, Liu L, Narayanan NS, Pottegård A. Association of Glycolysis-Enhancing α-1 Blockers With Risk of Developing Parkinson Disease. JAMA Neurol. 2021 Apr 1;78(4):407-413.

Lead and corresponding author

Jacob Simmering, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Internal Medicine–Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Occupational Medicine


This paper examined the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease in two large databases from the U.S. and Denmark and found reliably decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease in patients taking drugs that enhance glycolysis. This retrospective analysis will be critical for future clinical trials of glycolysis-enhancing drugs in neurodegenerative disease.

Educational research

Title of Paper

Benefits of a Multi-Institutional, Hybrid Approach to Teaching Course Design for Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Scholars, and Leaders


Hoffmann, Darren S., Katherine Kearns, Karen M. Bovenmyer, W. F. Preston Cumming, Leslie E. Drane, Madeleine Gonin, Lisa Kelly, Lisa Rohde, Shawana Tabassum, and Riley Blay. 2021. Benefits of a Multi-Institutional, Hybrid Approach to Teaching Course Design for Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Scholars, and Leaders. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 9 (1):218-40.

Lead author

Darren Hoffman, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology


A mixed-methods approach was used to evaluate the performance and appeal of learning experience that combined student cohorts across multiple institutions. This work strongly supports the future development of graduate development programs within multi-institutional space, utilizing broader expertise and interests.