NIH equipment grant awarded to UTM

The University of Tennessee at Martin received an equipment grant from the National Institutes of Health totaling $88,195 to purchase a DXA whole-body bone-density scanner.

UT Martin’s lead principal investigator for the grant was Dr. Todd Sherman, professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance. He was joined by principal investigators Dr. Angie MacKewn, professor in the Department of Psychology, and Dr. Ann Gathers, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, in pursuing the grant.

Sherman said that the DXA scanner will have several uses for students, instructors and others.

“You could have your body composition measured,” he said in describing the machine. “It tells you what your body composition is or your body fat percentage. We can also do bone density, so we can look at potential stress fractures or see if a bone is healing if you do have a stress fracture.

“We’re really excited about the many uses that we can do with this, even outside of what we would do in our classes and exposing our students to the latest techniques and research.”

Sherman said his department would use the DXA scanner in testing and prescription classes in exercise science as well as in the exercise physiology class.

“We can also use it in our special populations course,” he said. “Special populations is specific to elderly people, those who have osteoporosis or osteopenia, so we will definitely use it in that class.”

Sherman said other departments like the Department of Nursing and the Department of Biology would be able to use the DXA scanner in its classes for diagnostics and other needs.

“We can also use it for our vet tech program,” he said. “Even though we don’t have the software yet on the machine, we can purchase the software later and it will integrate perfectly with the piece of equipment that we have.

“We actually purchased the research-grade device, so we can do bone density on animals. For example, people give chickens hormones, but the muscles on these chickens get so big, they are breaking their leg bones. So, you can look at bone density in animals, and if you have the right software, then you can tell if that hormone therapy is too much.”

Sherman said that from a research standpoint, they are doing ketone studies to see if a certain diet affects body composition.

Sherman indicated that the scanner could be used for bone density screenings for the general public or for treatments for student-athletes.

“This is likely the gold standard now, the DXA scanner,” he said. “We were extremely blessed to get this grant. Equipment grants are not easy to get. Angie MacKewn did a fantastic job of doing all the research in terms of the necessity and the need in West Tennessee for something like this.”

The National Institutes of Health is the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world.

For more information about UT Martin, visit or call 1-800-829-UTM1 (-8861).

PHOTO: Recipients of an NIH equipment grant to purchase a DXA scanner were (L-R) Dr. Todd Sherman, professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance; Dr. Angie MacKewn, professor in the Department of Psychology; and Dr. Ann Gathers, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

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