Category Archives: Health Sciences

Student collaboration addresses fall risk for seniors

Three departments within East Carolina University’s College of Allied Health Sciences recently spent a day helping local seniors while teaching students the importance of collaborating with other disciplines.

The unique interprofessional senior fall risk assessment training exercise took place at the Black Jack Free Will Baptist Church on July 14. Students from the Occupational Therapy (OT), Physical Therapy (PT) and Physician’s Assistant (PA) programs were placed into groups composed of at least one student from each department and assigned patients. Senior citizens who volunteered to participate were evaluated to determine any unknown factors they may have that put them at a higher risk for falling.

Students assist a volunteer as she takes an eye exam during the College of Allied Health Sciences’ senior fall risk assessment training exercise on July 14.(Photo by Alyssa De Santis Figiel)

Students assist a volunteer as she takes an eye exam during the College of Allied Health Sciences’ senior fall risk assessment training exercise on July 14.(Photo by Alyssa De Santis Figiel)

“As seniors, they’ll have different health conditions that could result in an increase for fall risk. So by participating in this free activity, they’re learning about what those potential risks are and also how to address them to reduce their chances for falling,” said Dr. Jennifer Radloff, an assistant professor for the Department of Occupational Therapy at ECU and one of the event organizers.

Evaluations included PA students studying the seniors’ medical history to look for potential fall indicators, such as medications that may cause dizziness; PT students administering a mini balance assessment and OT students doing a vision assessment. Students also analyzed the seniors’ ability to use stairs, transition from sitting to standing, and turn quickly when walking. Those who were found to have greater chances of falling were provided with resources to continue their care and fall prevention.

The training exercise is noteworthy as it combines community service with education and gives students an opportunity to speak with others in different professions to discuss and compare each discipline’s responsibilities.

“I learned a lot of things I could incorporate into my own practice even though it’s not directly part of our assessment as a physician’s assistant,” said Kasey Briggs, a PA student who participated in the fall assessments.

Radloff praised the event as an excellent pre-emptive learning experience before students begin their required internships. Students expressed their appreciation for being given the opportunity to work collaboratively with other professions in a non-simulated experience.

“It helps solidify the fact that for patient care, it’s a team approach. Each person has skills to contribute,” said PT student Josh Schiemann.

PA student Sydney Pilgrim connected the experience to her previous work in healthcare.

“I actually worked in an ICU before I came here, and it was really cool because we did actually have PTs, OTs and PAs working together in the same unit. So it was nice to incorporate that into our studies because it really is like that in the real world,” Pilgrim said.

A third-year PT student who participated last year, Amalia Kondyles, returned to observe this year’s event and reflect on the value of the experience.

“I got to see the students learn things they didn’t learn in the classroom,” Kondyles said. “We’ve learned how to conduct these tests, but to actually do it on a real patient that doesn’t know how the test works, you start to realize the certain cues that don’t make sense. You see the students learn how to be PTs.”

If you would like to volunteer as a patient in next year’s event, please contact Dr. Jennifer Radloff at radloffj@ecu.edu or Dr. Kim Stokes at stokesc@ecu.edu.

 

-by Angela Todd, University Communications

Geyer recognized by Society for the Study of Reproduction

Dr. Christopher Geyer received this year’s New Investigator Award at the 50th annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Dr. Christopher Geyer received this year’s New Investigator Award at the 50th annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

East Carolina University’s Dr. Christopher Geyer was named the recipient of the 2017 New Investigator Award by the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) for his contributions to the field of reproductive sciences.

The award recognizes outstanding research contributions by an SSR member within 12 years of the completion of their Ph.D.

Geyer, an associate professor in the Brody School of Medicine Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, is working to explain the earliest stages of reproduction by investigating the mechanisms through which spermatogenic stem cells become differentiated and begin the process of becoming sperm cells.

His lab was recently awarded a five-year, $1.45 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the response of stem cells to retinoic acid.

“This is a highly competitive award, and the list of past winners is virtually a who’s who of top scientists in the field,” said Dr. Rebecca Krisher, chair of the SSR Awards Committee. “Dr. Geyer was chosen for this honor based upon the originality of his research, his scientific productivity and the significance of his contributions to the field of spermatogonial and testicular biology.”

Geyer said he has been a member of SSR since joining as a new graduate student in 2002. “Receiving the award was overwhelming,” he said. “I’ve never had to get up and speak in front of so many people.”

Geyer’s lab is working to pinpoint the mechanisms that control the earliest stages of reproduction.

Geyer’s lab is working to pinpoint the mechanisms that control the earliest stages of reproduction.

The award was presented during the opening ceremony of SSR’s 50th anniversary meeting in Washington, D.C. As the New Investigator Award recipient, Geyer gave a 30-minute presentation before more than 900 attendees of the conference.

“This was one of the goals I set for myself when I first started here in 2010, because I have several friends who’ve won this award and I’ve always admired their work and wanted to follow in their footsteps, so to speak,” Geyer said. “I have tried to emulate what they’ve done in their careers, but I never actually expected it to happen.”

Nick Serra and Ellen Velte, doctoral students in Geyer’s lab, also attended the conference and presented their work in poster format.

Geyer was nominated by his mentors, Dr. John McCarrey and Dr. Mitch Eddy, and more than a dozen professors from the United States and abroad wrote letters of support. He has been invited to speak at the annual meetings of SSR’s sister societies — the Society for Reproduction and Fertility, which will meet in Liverpool, United Kingdom in January; and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which will meet in San Antonio, Texas in November.

 

-by Jules Norwood

Military Women’s Health Symposium is August 23

Health care providers across eastern North Carolina will convene in Greenville for the new Military Women’s Health Symposium on August 23. Registration is now open for the event, which is meant to support the well-being of women in the military and women veterans by updating the providers who care for them.

Women comprise about 15 percent of the U.S. armed forces. In 2016, there were more than 2 million female veterans across the nation from all branches of military service, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

As more women join the military in ever-expanding roles, it’s important for providers to understand the health risks associated with service for women, according to event organizer Karen Goble, assistant director of continuing medical, dental and pharmacy education at Eastern AHEC.

“We want to recognize the role of women who serve and honor their sacrifice,” Goble said.

At the event, physicians and other advanced practitioners from the community, military bases and veterans’ administration will discuss the latest screening methods and treatments for issues common to women in the military and women veterans. These include orthopedic problems, pelvic pain and infections, depression, headaches and more.

“Women in the military are strong and resilient, but they face certain stressors that providers need to understand for optimal care,” Goble said.

For example, women in the military carrying heavy packs can experience stress fractures that result in chronic pelvic pain. “Women are capable of carrying the same equipment as men, but conditioning can be important in prevention,” Goble said.

The event is hosted by East Carolina University, Greenville VA Health Care Center, Eastern Area Health Education Center and Duke Area Health Education Center.

The conference will be held at The Education Center at Eastern AHEC, located at 2600 W. Arlington Blvd., at the corner of Arlington and W. 5th St. Space is limited so advance registration is required. Registration fees and other details are available online at easternahec.net. Those interested in attending this conference can call 252-744-5208 for more information.

 

-by Jackie Drake, Eastern AHEC

ECU’s Laupus Library to host “Potion Power: Medicinal Herb Discoveries for Kids”

The William E. Laupus Health Sciences Library at East Carolina University will host “Potion Power: Medicinal Herb Discoveries for Kids” on July 19 from 2-4 p.m. in the library’s 4th-floor gallery as part of a botanical exhibit from ECU’s Country Doctor Museum.

Currently on display, “Nature’s Remedies: Traditions of Botanical Medicine,” explores the history of using herbs and other plants as remedies and preventatives. From botanical oils and apothecary tins to rhubarb and ginger, the exhibit showcases objects used by ordinary consumers, druggists and medical practitioners in their search for relief and well-being.

Laupus invites children ages eight and up and their parents to visit the exhibit and participate in an afternoon of hands-on learning and exploration.

Kids will use a mortar and pestle to make dream pillows. (contributed photo)

Kids will use a mortar and pestle to make dream pillows. (contributed photo)

“We’re really excited to share the history of medicine in a fun way with kids from the community,” said Beth Ketterman, interim director of Laupus Library. “Eastern NC has a rich history of providing health care to our community and the kids who come to the event will learn how our doctors in the region used to make medicine in ‘the good old days.’”

During the afternoon, kids will visit several activity stations. One stop will allow them to make dream pillows using traditional medicinal herbs and mortars and pestles. An old fashioned pharmacy station will require them to use math skills, play dough and antique pill rollers to fill prescriptions. At the microscope station, they will discover plant cells up close where they can compare dandelion fuzz to a carrot root. Lastly, kids will be able to show off their creativity with a chance to color historic botanical drawings from the pages of the oldest coloring book in the world.

The event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required. Light refreshments will be provided.

Parking passes will be available to all attendees upon arrival. Guests are required to park in “B-Zone” parking lots during the event.

For more information about the event please contact Kelly Rogers Dilda at rogerske@ecu.edu or 252-744-2232.

 

 

-by Kelly R. Dilda, University Communications

ECU Colleges of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences open joint research hub

The process of finding new ways to help patients live healthier lives may have just become a little easier for faculty in East Carolina University’s College of Allied Health Sciences and College of Nursing.

The two colleges have been working together on research for years, but a new collaborative research hub promises to make the grant application and administration process more efficient, leaving faculty members more time to focus on improving patient outcomes and overall health and wellness.

The CON-CAHS Research Administration Hub, located on the university’s West Campus in the Health Sciences Building, aims to maximize support for faculty members by providing the administrative components involved in pursuing grants and conducting the research funded by them? It is the first collaborative research hub on the university’s health sciences campus.

Associate Deans for Research and Scholarship Dr. Patricia Crane, from nursing, and Dr. Heather Harris Wright, from allied health, will oversee the hub along with an administrative board that includes the colleges’ associate deans for research and Interim Health Sciences Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Dr. Kathy Verbanac.

From left, Susan Howard, Jessica Miller and Latoya Sahadeo will staff the new CON-CAHS Research Administration Hub. (Photo by Alyssa De Santis Figiel)

From left, Susan Howard, Jessica Miller and Latoya Sahadeo will staff the new CON-CAHS Research Administration Hub.
(Photo by Alyssa De Santis Figiel)

“The point of it is to capitalize on resources,” Crane said at the hub’s open house on May 18. “Traditionally, in each college we’ve had one person that did pre- and post-award (grant management),” Crane said. “If that person was out sick or we had more than one grant, or we had multiple grants or someone was on vacation, we were just lost. We’d have to go find someone else. It was a struggle.”

Creating a central hub to help faculty with administrative grant work was a perfect solution given that the two colleges have been collaborating on research efforts for years. Nursing’s three-year, $2.5 million Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program grant involves the CAHS’s Physician Assistant Studies program, and the three-year, $2.1 million grant from the Versant Center for the Advancement of Nursing involves the CAHS Department of Health Sciences & Information Management.

The hub will have one pre-award grant manager and two post-award grant managers. Jessica Miller, the pre-award grant manager, will provide budget support and preparation, seek out funding opportunities and help faculty with grant application development. Post-award managers Latoya Sahadeo and Susan Howard specialize in different types of grant management and will aid faculty members once a grant has been awarded.

“All the funding agencies, while there are some commonalities, they’re so vastly different in expectations and how they’re administered, and the rules and regulations associated with them,” Crane said. “This allows us to designate people that that’s their area of expertise. Instead of being a generalist in everything, now we have two experts in that for post-award.”

Wright agreed that the additional resource provided to faculty by the hub would be helpful as they pursue new research.

“As the funding portfolio for College of Allied Health Sciences continues to diversify and more faculty are seeking external funding to support their programmatic lines of research, increased support for pre- and post-award grant activities is needed,” she said. “The Hub will greatly benefit faculty across both colleges. We will be able to provide more support for the faculty and allow them to focus their time and energy on their science by providing them support in identifying funding opportunities, helping with proposal development, and administrative support.”

 

 

-by Natalie Sayewich 

 

Scholarship celebration honors donors, recipients

The East Carolina University College of Allied Health Sciences celebrated its 65 scholarship recipients and their donors during a recent ceremony at Rock Springs Center.

During the event the college awarded more than $100,000 in merit and need-based scholarships ranging from $500 to $9,000 each.

The College of Allied Health Sciences awarded more than $100,000 in scholarship funds to students at the April 4 Scholarship Celebration at Rock Springs Center. (Contributed photo)

The College of Allied Health Sciences awarded more than $100,000 in scholarship funds to students at the April 4 Scholarship Celebration at Rock Springs Center. (Contributed photo)

 

“These are students who all share a very simple, direct and important life goal: they want to make a difference in the lives of others,” said Dean Robert Orlikoff during the April 4 celebration. “Our mission at ECU is to promote student success, first and foremost. Without student success, we cannot attain success in the other aspects of our mission, and those are community outreach and regional transformation.”

Dr. Phyllis Horns, vice chancellor for health sciences, acknowledged the importance of the scholarships, many of which were established with private funds to honor or memorialize influential allied health educators and professionals and to support the academic pursuits of future professionals in the field.

“There’s nothing we do at this institution more important than to recognize and celebrate our scholarship recipients and recognize and celebrate the generous individuals who make these scholarships possible,” Horns said.

To the students in attendance Horns said, “I know that these scholarships make it possible for you to achieve your ambition and have your dreams come to fruition. We can’t tell you how proud we are of you and how high our expectations are of you when you leave us.”

ECU’s College of Allied Health Sciences is the largest college of allied health in North Carolina with more than 1,250 students across nine programs.

For more information, visit ECU’s scholarships website at www.ecu.edu/universityscholarships.

 

-by Natalie Sayewich, University Communication

Brody Scholars hold health fair to benefit community

East Carolina University medical students will hold a community health fair Saturday, April 8, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center at 1100 Ward St. in Greenville.

The event will include multiple booths geared toward various aspects of health for both children and adults. It is a collaboration among the Brody School of Medicine’s Brody Scholars and ECU dental, nursing and physician assistant students. The health fair is free and open to the public.

“The Brody Scholars had a new vision this year for our service project. We decided to do a health fair, because we want to serve our local community of Greenville,” said fourth-year medical student and Brody Scholar Mia Marshall.

Amanda Saad (left) and Mia Marshall are two of the Brody Scholars who helped organize the health fair. (contributed photo)

Amanda Saad (left) and Mia Marshall are two of the Brody Scholars who helped organize the health fair. (contributed photo)

Topics will range from childhood obesity to exercise and nutrition. Screenings will be provided for blood pressure, blood sugar, body mass index and oral health. Bike helmet safety will also be demonstrated, with 15 bike helmets to be raffled.

“We want to bring awareness to both adults and children and educate the general public in a way that is beneficial and sustainable,” Marshall said.

The health fair will be held in conjunction with the center’s 10th annual IGCC Day, a community block party celebrating a decade of service in the west Greenville and surrounding Pitt County areas with food, music, entertainment, giveaways, vendors, workshops and more.

The Brody Scholars program honors J. S. “Sammy” Brody, who, along with his brother Leo, were among the earliest supporters of medical education in eastern North Carolina The Brody Scholar award, valued at approximately $112,000, is the most prestigious scholarship available at the Brody School of Medicine. It includes four years of medical school tuition, living expenses and the opportunity for recipients to design their own summer enrichment programs that can include travel abroad. The award also supports community service projects recipients may undertake while in medical school. About 70 percent of Brody Scholars remain in North Carolina to practice, and the majority of those stay in eastern North Carolina.

 

 

-by Rich Klindworth

ECU’s Earth Day Expo

The Biodiversity Initiative and Department of Biology at East Carolina University will host an Earth Day Expo on Tuesday, April 11th from 4-6pm in Howell Science Complex with interactive events for people of all ages.  Various ECU researchers and local non-profit organizations will have displays and activities available on topics related to biodiversity.

There will be live animals and plants, lab activities, natural history story times, and more.  Kids from various after school programs will be attending and the public is welcome. Please check in at the breezeway of Howell when you arrive for a passport, map, and other information! More details are available at www.ecu.edu/biology/ncbiodiversity.

For more information, please contact Heather Vance-Chalcraft at vancechalcrafth@ecu.edu or 252-328-9841.  This event is a North Carolina Science Festival event (http://www.ncsciencefestival.org/).

 

 

-by Heather Vance-Chalcraft, Department of Biology

College of Nursing graduate named Air Force ROTC Distinguished Graduate

Jonathan Jeffries, a recent graduate of East Carolina University’s College of Nursing, was named a Distinguished Graduate at his Air Force ROTC commissioning ceremony in December.

The honor is given to the top 10 percent of the Air Force ROTC graduating class nationwide, which this year included 1,815 graduates from 144 detachments. The award is predicated on success and leadership in academics, ROTC and in the community.

Jonathan Jeffries, right, receives a sabre in recognition of being named a Distinguished Graduate during his Air Force ROTC commissioning ceremony in December. (Contributed photo)

Jonathan Jeffries, right, receives a sabre in recognition of being named a Distinguished Graduate during his Air Force ROTC commissioning ceremony in December. (Contributed photo)

“I think he’s the whole person concept as far as what we would need as a leader,” said Lt. Col. Roxane Engelbrecht, Jeffries’ commanding officer who nominated him for the award. “He is physically fit and he excels academically — those are the first two things. The third is leadership quality and his ability to lead groups of people, not only in the Air Force and Air Force ROTC, but his demonstrated leadership at the university is somewhat unparalleled by most cadets.”

Jeffries was the College of Nursing’s fall 2016 senior class president. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in nursing in December with a 3.89 GPA. He helped to organize a relief effort to aid Greenville flood victims following Hurricane Matthew in the fall of 2016. He also spearheaded his class’s efforts to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society during the 2016 Walk MS fundraiser.

Engelbrecht has nominated five cadets for the award since she came to ECU in 2014. Of those, Jeffries is one of four to have been selected as a recipient.

“It was a huge shock and a huge honor,” Jeffries said of the award, which came in the form of a sabre Engelbrecht presented him at the ceremony. “I’m not one to care about being recognized, but when it does happen it’s definitely nice to see all the effort and all the hard work you’ve put in – throughout your time either with ROTC or at the College of Nursing – be recognized. It was a surreal moment. It was probably one of the best days of my life so far.”

Prior to attending ECU, Jeffries served in the U.S. Marine Corps for three and a half years, but separated from that branch after being injured in pre-deployment training.

Jeffries plans to make a career as an Air Force nurse. He will go to Arizona in February for the Air Force’s 10-week nursing training before being stationed at Eglin Air Force base in Florida.

 

-by Natalie Sayewich

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