Category Archives: Medicine

Brody dean launches staff initiative

Brody School of Medicine Dean Mark Stacy. (contributed photo)

Brody School of Medicine Dean Mark Stacy. (contributed photo)

The dean of ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, Dr. Mark Stacy, is seeking suggestions from Brody employees about how to “build a better Brody,” and he’s setting aside $100,000 to put their best ideas into practice.

The Brody Staff Leadership Initiative seeks to tap into the knowledge, experience and creativity of the medical school’s employees to improve office efficiency, morale, the work environment and the overall culture at Brody, Stacy said.

“Those employees who are closest to a process, who work in a certain area on a daily basis, are the ones who can best identify how to make things work better,” said Stacy. “I want to empower those people to influence positive change. This is their chance to make a difference.”

All Brody SHRA and CSS staff are eligible to submit a proposal. While employees are encouraged to work in groups to strengthen their requests, proposals from individuals will also be considered.

The deadline for entries is Dec. 15, 2017.

All submissions will be reviewed by a representative group of Brody staff and the Dean’s Administrative Leadership Team. Winners will be announced at a ceremony and celebration event Jan. 10.

All requests – and any questions – should be submitted to Gary Vanderpool, executive associate vice chancellor for health sciences administration and finance, at

For the proposal guidelines and template, visit


-by Amy Ellis, University Communications

ECU Neurology confirmed as leader in MS care

ECU Physicians Neurology, a leading provider of care for people living with multiple sclerosis in eastern North Carolina, has been recognized as an official Partner in MS Care by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

This formal designation honors the practice’s commitment to providing exceptional MS care, and to working closely with the society to address the challenges of people affected by the disease. ECU first received the Partner in MS Care designation in 2013, and the renewal reflects the practice’s continued efforts to provide the highest quality care.

“This renewal of Partner in MS Care really is an extraordinary demonstration of the partnership that ECU has had with the National MS Society,” said Kristina Fransel, president of the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “We renew it to make sure you’re dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s, but also that we’re fulfilling our end of the bargain as a partner to you in delivering the best quality health care to people with multiple sclerosis, which is the highest priority for the National MS Society.”

ECU Physicians Neurology received a renewal of its Partner in MS Care designation from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Pictured from left are Kristina Fransel, president of the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society; Dr. Robert Frere, clinical associate professor, ECU Physicians Neurology; Lovie Powers, RN; and Paige Dalton, development and programs coordinator, Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

ECU Physicians Neurology received a renewal of its Partner in MS Care designation from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Pictured from left are Kristina Fransel, president of the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society; Dr. Robert Frere, clinical associate professor, ECU Physicians Neurology; Lovie Powers, RN; and Paige Dalton, development and programs coordinator, Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

Fransel recognized Dr. Robert Frere, medical director for ECU Physicians Neurology, for his efforts, which have resulted in doubling the number of patients with multiple sclerosis served by the practice. In addition to providing top-notch clinical care, she said, the Partner in MS Care designation recognizes the practice’s work in fundraising and advocacy for MS patients.

Joseph Hodges, clinical administrative manager for ECU Physicians Neurology, said the practice is committed to providing services across the continuum of care for patients with MS, having a medical director (Frere) with certification in treating patients with MS, and coordinating patient services with other providers including hospital services, urology and psychology.

MS is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system in which the body’s immune system incorrectly attacks healthy tissue in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves, disrupting the flow of information between the brain, spinal cord and other parts of the body.

Symptoms can range from relatively benign to disabling and include blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, memory and concentration problems, paralysis and blindness. It is estimated that more than 2.3 million people worldwide are affected by MS.

ECU Physicians Neurology is the largest and most comprehensive neurological medical practice in eastern North Carolina. Frere, who is board-certified in neurology and psychiatry, holds a specialty certification in neurophysiology.

The practice provides MS diagnosis, neuropsychological or cognitive evaluation and treatment, ongoing MS medical and symptom management, pain management, and patient and family education. The clinic also participates in MS clinical trials and research.

ECU Physicians Neurology is located at 2280 Hemby Lane in Greenville. For an appointment, call (252) 744-9400, or toll-free 1-800-775-4840. For more information about the practice visit


-by Jules Norwood, ECU News Services

ECU Physicians enrolling patients in breast cancer treatment study

ECU Physicians, the clinical practice of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University (ECU), is enrolling patients in a nationwide clinical study designed to evaluate a potential new treatment option for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.

Called HER2CLIMB, the study will evaluate the medication tucatinib in combination with standard treatments for patients with locally advanced or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer, with or without brain metastases. Tucatinib is an oral medication that can be taken at home.

HER2-positive breast cancer is a type of breast cancer that tests positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). HER2 promotes the aggressive spread of cancer cells. The American Cancer Society estimates that 20 to 25 percent of the approximately 234,000 annual breast cancer diagnoses in the U.S. are HER2-positive.

ECU oncologist Dr. Mahvish Muzaffar (contributed photo)

ECU oncologist Dr. Mahvish Muzaffar (contributed photo)

“Patients who have been diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer and whose cancer has metastasized may benefit from treatment with HER2-targeted therapies,” said Eric P. Winer, M.D., chair of the HER2CLIMB International Steering Committee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Breast Oncology Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

“This investigational medication is designed to inhibit the activity of HER2 and is being evaluated in combination with other approved therapies. The HER2CLIMB trial will enroll patients with HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread to the brain, a patient population that is often excluded from clinical trials,” Winer added.

Historically, HER2-positive disease has been associated with shorter survival times as well as a higher risk of recurrence and brain metastases. Over the past two decades, the approvals of four other targeted treatments have led to slower progression of the disease and improved survival rates for HER2-positive patients.

Yet the need for new therapies remains, according to ECU oncologist Dr. Mahvish Muzaffar.

“Brody is dedicated to advancing new treatment options for advanced HER2-positive breast cancer through studies like HER2CLIMB,” Muzaffar said. “Despite treatment advances, there is still a significant need for new therapies that can impact the lives of patients with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer – including cancer that has spread to the brain – and that can be tolerated for long periods of time.”

The safety and effectiveness of tucatinib has not yet been established. As with other anti-cancer treatments, this investigational treatment may or may not provide benefit and may cause side effects.

To be eligible for this study, patients must have locally advanced or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer. In addition, patients must have already been treated with four common breast cancer therapies – taxane (Taxotereâ or Taxolâ), trastuzumab (Herceptinâ), pertuzumab (Perjetaâ), and T-DM1 (Kadcylaâ).

Enrolled participants will receive standard, approved treatments. In addition, they may also receive the investigational medication tucatinib.

To learn more about the HER2CLIMB study, including eligibility criteria, visit or call the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center at 252-744-1888.

Webinar series helps nurses grow

Nurses in eastern North Carolina will have an innovative way to develop as leaders, thanks in part to a new webinar program starting this month.

The Emerging Leaders Institute Webinar Series, developed by the East Carolina Consortium for Nursing Leadership (ECCNL) and Eastern Area Health Education Center, offers six monthly webinars for nurses currently serving or aspiring to serve in leadership roles. These live one-hour webinars will cover various topics such as leadership competencies, communication and collaboration, mentoring and coaching, multigenerational workforce, patient safety and quality improvements, and emotional intelligence. The first webinar is Oct. 18; the deadline to register is Oct. 11.

Dr. Gina Woody, College of Nursing faculty member. (contributed photo)

Dr. Gina Woody, College of Nursing faculty member. (contributed photo)

“Participants will develop leadership skills that will enable them to grow personally and professionally and serve as leaders and change agents in promoting and shaping the future of health care,” said ECCNL Director Dr. Gina Woody, clinical professor in the College of Nursing at East Carolina University.

This program is open to nurses across the region in any practice setting. Nurses can register individually for any combination of webinars up to a week before each event. A discount is available on all six webinars through Oct. 11.

An agency subscription rate, which was available for employers who wished to make the webinars available to all their staff, allows teams to gather together and hear from content experts, according to Donna Moses, director of nursing and allied health education at Eastern AHEC. “It is our hope that the conversation continues after the webinar, where participants share their leadership insights and mentor new leaders and access further resources within their own organization,” Moses said.

“This innovative project is but one example of the consortium’s ongoing commitment to mobilize nurses to be influential leaders in promoting healthier communities,” Woody said. “The consortium promotes the personal and professional development of nurse executives, managers, clinicians, educators and other related health care professionals employed in all types of settings. At the end of this series the participant will be able to synthesize concepts of leadership, management, change, teamwork and communication as they relate to the role of the nurse leader.”

The Consortium for Nursing Leadership was established by the ECU College of Nursing in 2006 to promote leadership development for both students and practicing nurses through education, research and scholarship.

“We look forward to working with Eastern AHEC to help the people of eastern North Carolina by increasing educational opportunities for all nurses,” Woody said.

Moses added, “Leadership is the most desired and difficult skill set to develop. It has been said that it is lonely at the top. It doesn’t have to be when teams realize that leadership is a shared responsibility.”

Nurses who wish to register should first check with their chief nursing officer or chief administrator to see if a series subscription was purchased by their agency.

For more information on this program, contact the Eastern AHEC Department of Nursing and Allied Health Education at 252-744-5220 or visit

All webinars will be held 12-1 p.m.

Webinar schedule

October 18: Identify and Develop Your Leadership Competencies

November 15: Communication and Collaboration: The Importance of Nurses and Physician Relationship in Leading Patient Care

December 13: Modeling the Way: Mentoring and Coaching

January 17: Cultivating Leaders Across Generations

February 21: Improving Patient Safety and Quality Improvements within Health Systems

March 21: Building Emotional Intelligence


-by Jackie Drake, Eastern AHEC

ECU welcomes new physicians to Family Medicine Center

ECU Physicians has welcomed seven new physicians to their Family Medicine Center – four who are practicing comprehensive care, and three specializing in sports medicine.

In the area of comprehensive care, Drs. Kelley Haven and Audy Whitman are graduates of the Brody School of Medicine, and both completed residencies with ECU and Vidant Medical Center – Haven in obstetrics and gynecology and Whitman in family medicine.

Dr. Melissa Prado, a graduate of Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, completed her residency in family medicine at Lancaster General Health in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Uma Shah earned her medical degree at the American University of the Caribbean in St. Maarten before completing a family medicine residency at ECU and Vidant Medical Center.

From left, Drs. Uma Shah, Kelley Haven, Melissa Prado and Audy Whitman

From left, Drs. Uma Shah, Kelley Haven, Melissa Prado and Audy Whitman. (Contributed photos)

Haven, who is board-eligible in OB-GYN, is focused on comprehensive women’s care. Her clinical interests include contraception, adolescent health, ultrasound, birth centers and the midwifery model of care, complementary and alternative medicine.

As board-certified physicians in family medicine, Whitman, Prado and Shah are trained to treat patients of all ages and an array of common diseases, including asthma, allergy, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, depression and anxiety. Their services include immunizations, well-child exams, routine physicals and Medicare wellness exams.

Whitman is especially interested in holistic medicine, obesity, family planning, OB-GYN, office-based procedures and aesthetic medicine.

Prado’s clinical interests include group medical visits, OB-GYN, LGBT care, opiate addiction treatment and office-based procedures, while Shah’s focus is on preventive medicine and patient education.

All four physicians are accepting patients at ECU’s Family Medicine Center, 101 Heart Dr., Greenville. Appointments are available by calling 252-744-4611.


Sports medicine

Three new physicians have joined Dr. Justin Lee in the Family Medicine Center’s Sports Medicine Clinic.

Dr. Megan Ferderber comes to ECU from Pennsylvania State College of Medicine. She completed a family medicine residency and sports medicine fellowship at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center. Her clinical interests include concussion management and preventive medicine.

From left, Drs. Megan Ferderber, Justin Lee, Evan Lutz and Christopher Urbanek.

From left, Drs. Megan Ferderber, Justin Lee, Evan Lutz and Christopher Urbanek.

Dr. Evan Lutz is a graduate of the Brody School of Medicine who completed his family medicine residency and sports medicine fellowship at ECU and Vidant Medical Center. He has special interest in acute and overuse injuries in athletes, custom orthotics and ultrasound-guided injections.

Dr. Christoper Urbanek earned his osteopathic medical degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine before fulfilling a family medicine residency and sports medicine fellowship at University of Pittsburg Medical Center. Diagnostic and interventional ultrasonography and regenerative medicine are among his clinical interests.

As board-certified physicians in the field of sports medicine, Ferderber, Lutz and Urbanek are trained to meet the specialized performance needs of athletes, treat knee and shoulder injuries, tendonitis, stress fractures, concussions and low-back pain. Additionally, all are qualified to help patients who have illnesses such as asthma, arthritis, hypertension or diabetes meet their health and fitness goals.

The ECU Physicians sports medicine team also offers counseling on injury prevention, nutrition and supplements, increasing physical activity and improving fitness.

The sports medicine team is accepting patients at ECU’s Family Medicine Center, 101 Heart Dr., Greenville. Appointments are available by calling 252-744-4611.


Contact: Amy A. Ellis, Director of ECU Health Sciences Communication,

Brody students help transform medical education

Faculty at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine have made national news in recent months because of their contributions toward transforming medical education around high quality, team-based, patient-centered care. Brody’s innovative curriculum is what led the American Medical Association in 2013 to award the school $1 million to help lead their national Accelerating Change in Medical Education (ACME) initiative.

Now Brody students are getting noticed for doing their part too. Several recently traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to attend the AMA’s student-led ACME consortium, which brought together medical students from across the country to address key challenges in medical education.

Brody students presented several posters on topics ranging from second-year curriculum optimization to student-led implementation of tablet use in the clinical education setting.

Students attend the AMA conference. (Contributed photo)

Students attend the AMA conference. (Contributed photo)

“As one of the smaller schools represented at the conference, the imprint our students had on the conference was quite impressive,” said Dr. Jill Sutton, a clinical Ob/Gyn professor at ECU and the group’s faculty representative at the event.

Third-year student Zach Frabitore gave an oral presentation about developing and implementing interdisciplinary mock disaster exercises like the ones Brody students held the past two years. Frabitore said his presentation resonated with other students, and many approached him throughout the day to discuss it further.

“I think we left the conference having made a very clear and loud statement about our student body at Brody,” said Frabitore. “We were able to articulate the commitment to student leadership and intimate faculty-student relationships that encourage innovation at our home institution.

“Many students were [surprised] when we spoke about how we could pick up the phone and make personal calls to our faculty to discuss project ideas and receive advice from mentors who knew us on a personal level.”

“The school’s commitment to student participation in curricular governance and feedback that informs future decisions is a high value for Brody,” said Dr. Elizabeth Baxley, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. “The enhanced opportunities we have had in recent years to invest more substantially in student leadership development and to more formalize their contributions to educational and clinical scholarship are already paying off – for the students and the institution. Additionally, it has increased Brody’s national reputation and brought attention to the great work that has been happening here for many years. Everyone wins in that scenario!”

For more information about Brody’s involvement in the AMA initiative to transform medical education visit


-by Angela Todd, University Communication

ECU’s College of Nursing offers new Master of Nursing Science concentration

A new online program launched this semester by ECU’s College of Nursing is poised to help the region address its shortage of mental health care professionals. Graduates of the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program will earn a Master of Nursing Science (MSN) degree or a post-master’s certificate as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, of the nearly 234,000 nurse practitioners in the United States, only 1.8 percent are certified in psychiatric and mental health care. In 2012, the North Carolina Medical Journal reported that 95 percent of all North Carolina counties had an unmet need for medical providers who can prescribe psychiatric medications — a deficit that psychiatric nurse practitioners are able to fill.

For patients enrolled in government sponsored health insurance programs such as Medicare or Medicaid, it can be even harder to access mental health care. The National Council for Behavioral Health reported in March that 40 percent of psychiatrists do not accept third-party reimbursements.

“I was in private practice for 20 years, so I can appreciate that,” said Wanda Lancaster, the director of the new program. “But we know this special population struggles with issues such as substance abuse or schizophrenia and tend to not have insurance. And nurse practitioners are more likely to be in clinics that accept Medicaid and Medicare.”

Lancaster said the program will have a special emphasis in treating patients that suffer from substance abuse, severe and persistent mental illness, and PTSD. Several of the students will be placed in Veterans Affairs hospitals to complete their clinical hours as well as area state psychiatric hospitals, outpatient clinics, and detox centers.

“This is going to help the people of eastern North Carolina and across the state,” said Lancaster. “Because right now psychiatric beds are limited due to a great staffing shortage. This is causing issues for local emergency rooms with mental health patients spending days waiting on bed availability.”

Lancaster said completing ECU’s new program gives students an opportunity to gain an in-depth education and clinical experience in psychiatric care that “elevates the scope and standard of practice.” This will enable students to take the national certification exam, which ensures quality and competence and is now required for reimbursement in this specialty.

The program is only open to residents of North Carolina and admission preference is given to those currently practicing in mental health settings or who plan to deliver direct mental health care upon graduation. Currently, there are 13 post master’s certificate students and nine MSN students enrolled in the program.

For more information about the program visit


-by Angela Todd, University Communications

ECU physicians share expertise at international lung cancer conference

Physicians in East Carolina University’s thoracic oncology program will represent the university on a global stage Sept. 14-16, making four oral presentations at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer in Chicago.

“One of the strengths of our thoracic program is our innovative thinking, our innovative treatment. It resonates with people nationally,” said Dr. Paul Walker, chief of hematology/oncology at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, who will be giving one of those presentations.

ECU doctors will highlight the benefit of combining radiation therapy and immune therapy in the treatment of lung cancer. They also will discuss how genetic markers can determine the likelihood a patient will benefit from immune therapy – an innovation Walker said leads to an individual approach to cancer treatment.

“We just have to find the right therapy for each individual. Then if you can figure out who is going to do well with that specific therapy, treat those patients the same,” Walker said. “But those who have been filtered out, then you’re going to have to find a different treatment for them.”

Lung cancer patient Pam Black undergoes treatment at the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Lung cancer patient Pam Black undergoes treatment at the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

They will also discuss a treatment to counter any harmful effects immune therapy can have in patients with lung cancer, including lung tissue inflammation that can cause breathing difficulties, often requiring oxygen therapy and even hospitalization. Walker’s team found that administering a monoclonal antibody typically used to treat arthritis resolved the issue within 36 hours for 79 percent of their patients.

The final ECU study – funded by the American Cancer Society and conducted in collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of South Carolina – looked at disparities in lung cancer treatment for African Americans, who elect to have surgery at a 12 to 13 percent lower rate than Caucasians. But Walker and his fellow researchers found that providing an educator to explain individual diagnosis and treatment options to African-American patients removed the racial disparity.

“This study designed something simple, using a separate educator, and proved this approach can remove the racial disparity in early stage lung cancer in both the decision for surgery and/or Cyberknife radiosurgery,” Walker said.

All four presentations will be published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

In October, members of the thoracic oncology team will present two abstracts at the IASLC 18th World Conference on Lung Cancer in Japan.

“The fact that we’re being invited to present our work nationally and internationally validates the program and it recognizes what you are doing, how you are doing it,” Walker said. “We want other people to hear it and hopefully take it to heart.”


-by Rich Klindworth 

Brody associate dean named to national steering committee

The associate dean for diversity and inclusion at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine has been selected to serve on the steering committee for the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Group on Diversity and Inclusion. In this role, Dr. Kendall Campbell will act as a liaison between the national committee and all medical schools in the southern region of the United States.

“It [my selection] puts Brody on the map, on the national landscape if you will, for diversity and inclusion issues,” Campbell said. “It allows me to bring issues that may be particular to Brody, to a national light. It really stresses Brody’s commitment to diversity and inclusion because I was nominated by folks here for this position. So it’s not something I just decided to do myself; there were people here that recognized that it would be good for me to serve on this committee.”

Dr. Kendall Campbell. (contributed photo)

Dr. Kendall Campbell. (contributed photo)

Brody is dedicated to increasing access to a medical education for minority and underserved students as part of its legislatively mandated threefold mission. Campbell’s office oversees eight groups within Brody that focus on diversity, such as the Sexual and Gender Diversity committee, the Brody Women Faculty committee and the Interprofessional Diversity Group. The Office of Diversity Affairs has also developed workshops that focus on the various aspects of diversity and inclusion to promote retention of minority faculty and a more inclusive environment at Brody.

According to a recent AAMC report, Brody ranks better than 90 percent of the nation’s medical schools when it comes to the percentage of its graduates who are African American. Nearly one-third of Brody’s newest class is non-Caucasian.

Campbell said that while Brody does better than many medical schools when it comes to maintaining a culture of diversity, there is still work to be done.

“My goal for us is to be at parity with the state,” he said. “Because we only accept North Carolina residents, I look at the state census population as to what should be our representation. So if there’s a certain percentage of racial minorities in the state, then that’s what we want to see reflected in our medical school classes.”

Campbell earned his medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine and completed a residency in family medicine at the Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Family Practice Residency Program. Before coming to Brody in 2016, he was on faculty at Florida State University College of Medicine, where he was the co-founder and co-director of the Center for Underrepresented Minorities in Academic Medicine.

In addition to his AAMC appointment, Campbell was recently named a member of the Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and the Elimination of Health Disparities for the National Academy of Medicine. He is also the director of the Research Group for Underrepresented Minorities in Academic Medicine at Brody.

“Dr. Campbell is a nationally recognized expert in the field of diversity and inclusion in medical school communities,” said Brody’s interim dean, Dr. Nicholas Benson. “His appointment to this important national leadership body demonstrates that the Association of American Medical Colleges recognizes that Kendall’s participation will bring an important voice to their discussions that have positive impact for medical education and research across the country.”

The AAMC Group on Diversity and Inclusion is a national forum aimed at advancing diversity in the medical academic setting, keeping institutions informed about the benefits of diversity and highlighting the importance of addressing issues pertaining to historically underrepresented populations. Ultimately, the goal of the committee is to provide better care to the underserved through a more diverse medical workforce.

“I think the most encouraging trend is that [diversity] is on people’s minds,” said Campbell. “And not only that it’s on their minds, but people are moving from a place of tolerating diversity to recognizing diversity benefit.”


-by Angela Todd, University Communication 


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