Category Archives: In the news

Foundation welcomes new leadership

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East Carolina University recently named a new president for its Medical & Health Sciences Foundation – the organization which seeks and manages charitable giving for the Division of Health Sciences.

Notestine

Notestine

Dr. Mark A. Notestine began his tenure as foundation president and associate vice chancellor for health sciences development and alumni affairs in December.

His responsibilities include serving as the foundation’s chief operating officer and leading all fundraising activities for the Division of Health Sciences, including The Brody School of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Allied Health Sciences, the School of Dental Medicine, William E. Laupus Health Sciences Library and affiliated entities. He works in close collaboration with ECU Advancement leadership to engage, cultivate, solicit and steward alumni and friends for philanthropic support for the university, its programs and strategic priorities.

“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to work closely with East Carolina University and foundation leadership to provide essential resources to ensure student and faculty success, and to work with our community partners to transform health care in our region and state,” Notestine said.

Prior to his arrival in Greenville, he served as the associate dean of advancement at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College and the associate vice president of development at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

He earned his bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee and his PhD at Ohio University.

The East Carolina University Medical & Health Sciences Foundation Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization whose purpose is to seek and acquire charitable gift support from individuals, businesses, organizations, corporations, and foundations to support ECU’s Division of Health Sciences. Funds received and managed by the Medical & Health Sciences Foundation are designed to enhance education, teaching, research and service.

 

NCLR receives Phoenix Award

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The North Carolina Literary Review has been recognized with the 2014 Phoenix Award for Significant Editorial Achievement by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. The award was announced during the Modern Language Association conference in Vancouver on Jan. 8.

This is the journal’s fifth award from this allied organization of the Modern Language Association. CELJ’s membership includes more than 450 editors of scholarly journals.

NCLR is published by East Carolina University and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

Margaret Bauer

Margaret Bauer

According to the CELJ award guidelines, the Phoenix Award is given to a journal that has “launched an overall effort of revitalization or transformation within the previous three years.”

ECU English professor Margaret Bauer, who serves as NCLR editor, said she submitted to this category to call attention to NCLR’s expansion in 2012 to add a second issue each year, an open-access electronic issue titled NCLR Online. Book reviews are now published in these issues “to reach as broad an audience as possible, our mission being to promote North Carolina writers,” said Bauer, who is the Rives Chair of Southern Literature at ECU.

One of the CELJ judges said of NCLR: “What’s most impressive about the recent changes is . . . using online publishing to increase dissemination and take advantage of various digital affordances, while also preserving the gorgeous printed volume.”

Another of the competition’s judges praised NCLR’s “immediate accessibility to a general audience with a high level of substantive writing.” This judge also remarked upon the appearance of the journal: “A particular appealing aspect of the journal is the enlargement of the verbal texts through photographic illustrations that are placed appropriately with the fictional works, the poems and the interviews.” Bauer said that she credits NCLR Art Editor Diane Rodman for the quality of the art featured inside and Art Director Dana Ezzell Gay and the other graphic designers for “the beautiful layout” of the issues.

The additional online issues also allow the editors to publish more of the finalists in the poetry and fiction competitions that the journal manages. Many of these finalists are new writers, according to Bauer, and they are therefore introduced to an even larger audience than the print issues reach.

“One of my missions as editor has always been to give new writers a chance, even in ‘the writingest state,’” Bauer said. Using this descriptor, coined by the late Doris Betts, Bauer points out that with the number of established, talented writers in North Carolina, it would be easy to fill every issue without taking a chance on new talent. “But I enjoy reading and meeting new writers as much as I have enjoyed the opportunity to develop relationships with many of North Carolina’s literary stars,” she said.

The newest issue of NCLR Online will be available in late January. The print issues are published in July. Find subscription information on NCLR’s website, www.nclr.ecu.edu.

Research makes journal cover

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An article authored by East Carolina University accounting professor Rebecca Fay made the front page of the Journal of Accountancy, the leading journal published by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). The magazine reaches 500,000 accounting and finance professionals each month, more than all other accounting publications combined.

Rebecca Fay

Rebecca Fay

The article, “I’m not biased, am I?” was published as the Journal of Accountancy’s cover story on Feb. 1, 2015. Norma R. Montague, assistant professor of accounting at Wake Forest University, served as co-author.

In the report, the authors explored five common judgment biases that can affect accounting and auditing decisions, concluding that learning how to spot and short-circuit these biases can help CPAs maintain their objectivity. The authors also included a decision-making quiz so that readers can learn about their decision-making process and how it relates to their accounting work.

Fay explained, “The first step toward enhancing our decisions is recognizing the specific problems that may occur. In 60 seconds the quiz provides readers with an opportunity to determine whether common types of bias are affecting their decisions. It shifts the topic of bias from merely a textbook concept to something that is relevant to the reader personally. Hopefully the article will pique interest and point readers to the wealth of literature available.”

Click here for the full article: http://journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2015/feb/auditing-judgment-bias.html.

Fay joined the ECU College of Business as an assistant professor of accounting in Fall 2011. Originally from Virginia, she earned her Ph.D. from Virginia Tech and holds both a B.S. and an M.B.A. from Liberty University. She is s a licensed CPA and has seven years of experience in public accounting. She worked as an audit manager with Cherry, Bekaert & Holland before returning to academia.

Mills Symposium peddles partnerships

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Dr. L. Allen Dobson, keynote speaker and current president and CEO of Community Care of North Carolina, was the keynote speaker at the 11th annual Jean Mills Health Symposium held Feb. 6 at East Carolina University.

Dr. L. Allen Dobson, keynote speaker and current president and CEO of Community Care of North Carolina, was the keynote speaker at the 11th annual Jean Mills Health Symposium held Feb. 6 at East Carolina University.

 

By Lauren Harrell Edmondson
For ECU News Services

Innovative community health care driven by patient needs, and tailoring local resources to cooperatively address those needs was the focus of the 11th annual Jean Mills Health Symposium held Feb. 6 at East Carolina University.

“North Carolina’s strength in health care comes from putting the needs of patients and community first,” said Dr. L. Allen Dobson, keynote speaker and current president and CEO of Community Care of North Carolina, the comprehensive network that manages health care delivery for the state’s Medicaid recipients and low-income insured residents.

Dobson told the audience – an assortment of health care providers, community and faith leaders, faculty, students and community residents – that eastern North Carolina has pioneered a successful model of collaborative efforts that put patient needs before health care industry needs.

He outlined a “state of the union” for the current health care system, noting the high costs of providing care and the lack of sustainability. As a result of these conditions, Dobson said, patients are absorbing more of the costs, insurers are narrowing their networks and providers are being consolidated – actions that aren’t adequately addressing the issues at hand.

Dobson highlighted consolidation in particular, noting how unsuccessful the shift from physician-owned practices to health-system-owned practices can be.

“Consolidation, practice purchasing and this type of activity is actually driving up costs,” he said.

The higher costs associated with ownership consolidation often result from more care being delivered in high-cost hospital settings and hospital based ambulatory surgical centers, Dobson explained. While he noted that increased coordination of care and less duplication of tests and treatments help decrease costs for consolidated practices, he said physician-owned practices provide lower cost care.

He cited a report from the Journal of the American Medical Association showing that care at a physician-owned practice costs $743 less per patient per year than care at a health-system owned establishment. Dobson went on to say that larger practices tend to prevent fewer hospital admissions and re-admissions and often focus on “sick care” more than preventative medicine.

Amos T. Mills III, pictured above, was recognized at the ceremony. He created the event in honor of his sister, an ECU alumna.

Amos T. Mills III, pictured above, was recognized at the ceremony. He created the event in honor of his sister, an ECU alumna.

North Carolina’s effectiveness in addressing such issues lies with the state’s collaborative efforts across disciplines and a knack for tailoring approaches to local resources, according to Dobson. Through these efforts Community Care ensures health care is focused at the community level and ensures patients’ needs are met, no matter their location, he said.

“Health care, just like politics, is local. You can’t take something that worked in Durham or Charlotte and make it work in little Washington,” he said.

The daylong symposium also featured panels and breakout sessions on ways community partnerships can address issues around obesity, diabetes and mental health, especially in minority populations.

The Mills Symposium was created by Amos T. Mills III in memory of his sister, an ECU alumna with a passion for community health and health equity. Presented by the College of Allied Health Sciences in collaboration with the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation, the annual event is aimed at generating awareness and solutions for health problems that plague North Carolinians and minorities in particular.

Partnership produces healthy, happy hearts

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Chuck Barber, right, enjoys a moment with Luis Amarro, who had heart surgery in Greenville thanks to the Children's Heart Project. Barber and his wife were pre-surgery hosts for the Bolivian families. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Chuck Barber, right, enjoys a moment with Luis Amarro, who had heart surgery in Greenville thanks to the Children’s Heart Project. Barber and his wife were pre-surgery hosts for the Bolivian families. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Amy Adams Ellis
ECU News Services

Two Bolivian hearts were mended, and many local hearts warmed last month, thanks to a partnership between the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, Vidant Medical Center and Samaritan’s Purse’s Children’s Heart Project.

Six-year-old Sebastian Viscarra and 15-year-old Luis Amarro traveled from La Paz, Bolivia, recently to receive life-altering surgery in Greenville. The two boys were participants in the Children’s Heart Project, an international relief project that matches up children who need heart surgery – but lack access to it in their home countries – with North American medical centers willing to donate their services. The project arranges for host families and an interpreter to accompany the children and their guardians, and furnishes round-trip transportation.

Dr. Charlie Sang

Dr. Charlie Sang

Both children suffered from a common congenital heart defect that in the United States is typically repaired at 3-6 months of age, said Dr. Charlie Sang, the ECU pediatric cardiologist who cared for the boys before and after surgery.

“Both children had a ventricular septal defect, which is essentially a hole in the bottom wall of the heart,” said Sang, who is chief of pediatric cardiology at Brody.

“The opening allowed too much blood to flow to the right side of the heart, causing increased blood pressure in the vessels of the lungs. If not repaired, the patients would have developed irreversible pulmonary vascular disease, worsening heart failure symptoms and premature death.”

When the boys arrived in early October, Sang said, “They couldn’t walk the block without getting tired.” Since the surgery, he said, “They will pretty much be able to do what normal kids their age do – and live long, prosperous lives.”

ECU pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Koh Takeuchi performed the surgeries. “In both children, we closed the hole by sewing a patch over it. The whole procedure takes three hours,” he said.

“It’s a procedure we do every day here.”

Sebastian, who lives with his mother and three siblings in a one-room apartment in La Paz, wants to be a policeman when he grows up. When asked if he was strong like Spiderman – the superhero featured on the watch he was sporting – he peered up sheepishly through long, dark eyelashes and said in Spanish, “I know I am.

His mother, Victoria Villca, said through the interpreter, “When I got the news Sebastian was chosen for the project, I had two emotions. I was very nervous and very happy. Sebastian is a blessed child to be chosen by this program. We’re very thankful for the medical staff, the host families, and every little thing that anyone has done to help us.”

Luis said he was scared when he first heard he was coming to the United States for surgery, because he didn’t know what to expect. “But I’ve been happy here,” he said. “I’m happy about my new heart. Now I can run and play soccer.”

Luis has lived in an orphanage in La Paz since his mother abandoned him as a toddler. When he was offered pain medication after the surgery, he remarked that his pain wasn’t nearly as bad as other pain he’s endured in his life, according to Ainslie Guion of Cove City, whose family hosted the recovery end of the Bolivians’ stay.

“We love them both,” Guion said of the two boys.

This is the second time her family has hosted children for the project. She and her husband Marty have four children, and the youngest is an adopted son from Russia who is close in age to Luis. Like Luis, he suffered much mental and physical pain as a young child moving from one orphanage to another.

Dr. Koh Takeuchi

Dr. Koh Takeuchi

“I want to show Luis that people do want to love and care for him,” Guion said. “We thought we were helping these families, but in the end, they’re a huge blessing to us. We’re just a tiny piece of the puzzle,” she added.

Guion’s church, Tabernacle Baptist in New Bern, sponsored the children’s trip, meaning church members provided housing, food, local transportation and emotional support for the families during their stay.

Youth pastor Chuck Barber and his wife, Judy, of Landmark Baptist Church in Greenville, also opened their home to the children before the surgeries. This was the third time the Barbers have hosted families for the project.

Luis’s grandmother, Nilda Salazar, who accompanied him, said, “We are very happy and thankful for the medical team and the host families who have given us their homes and their support. Everyone has been so kind to us.”

Salazar chose to show her gratefulness by leaving a piece of herself behind when she returns to Bolivia. Both she and interpreter Aylin Limpias had their waste-length hair cut while they were here and donated to Locks of Love, a charity that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the U.S. and Canada who suffer from long-term medical hair loss.

“They have really big hearts,” said Guion of her Bolivian house guests.

Sebastian and Luis are the 32nd and 33rd Children’s Heart Project patients to be treated in Greenville since ECU began partnering with the project in 2001.

In the United States, the cost of surgery to repair a congenital heart defect can range from $30,000 to $80,000, according to Cindy Bonsall, director of the Children’s Heart Project.

The Children’s Heart Project is a ministry of the international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse. Since it began in 1997, the project has brought more than 1,000 children to North America to receive heart surgery and treatments unavailable in their home countries. To find out more, visit SamaritansPurse.org.

 

Heart surgery recipients Luis Amarro, 15, and 6-year-old Sebastian Viscarra find common ground in electronic devices as they recover from their surgeries in Greenville.

Heart surgery recipients Luis Amarro, 15, and 6-year-old Sebastian Viscarra find common ground in electronic devices as they recover from their surgeries in Greenville.

Exercise after surgery improves health

Dr. Joseph Houmard, College of Health and Human Performance

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

People who exercise following bariatric surgery gain health benefits beyond weight loss, according to researchers at East Carolina University, the University of Pittsburgh and Florida Hospital – Sanford-Burnham Translational Research for Institute and Diabetes Institute.

“This is really the first clinical trial to look at the effects of exercise on insulin sensitivity and other risk factors following bariatric surgery,” said Dr. Joe Houmard, professor of kinesiology in the College of Health and Human Performance, director of ECU’s Human Performance Lab and principal investigator of the new study at ECU. “It shows even with huge weight loss that exercise can make you healthier. If you want optimal benefits, you need to be physically active.”

Dr. Joseph Houmard, College of Health and Human Performance

Dr. Joseph Houmard, College of Health and Human Performance

The joint study, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation and funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, involved 119 people who recently had Roux-en-Y bypass bariatric surgery. The weight loss surgery is the most common metabolic surgery performed in the United States. One group of patients participated in an intensive education program after surgery while a second group incorporated 120 minutes of exercise each week with education.

Compared to the education group, those who exercised showed significant improvement in insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. Low insulin sensitivity and poor glucose metabolism are associated with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Both are common in pre-diabetes, meaning a person’s blood sugar level is higher than normal but not enough to be classified as diabetes.

The exercise group also showed notable improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, which reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, lung cancer and stroke.

Although both groups lost weight – about 50 pounds – as a result of bariatric surgery, there were no differences in the total amount of weight loss between the two groups in the 24-week study.

“Importantly, our study showed that aerobic exercise is feasible in this population—a result that directly counters the perception that severely obese individuals cannot respond to lifestyle interventions,” said Dr. Bret Goodpaster, director of the Exercise Metabolism Core and professor at Sandford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, in a news release. “We look forward to additional studies to determine the optimal amount and type of exercise that produces the best physiological results.”

The study was done in collaboration with the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, Department of Health and Physical Activity, and the Department of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and the Department of Kinesiology at ECU.

ECU faculty members Chuck Tanner and Gabe Dubis were co-authors on the paper and registered nurse Angela Clark assisted with the study.

“ECU has long been involved in research with exercise and gastric bypass and hopefully we’re now making another contribution to treating the obesity epidemic,” Houmard said.

Research by another ECU faculty member, Dr. Walter Pories, who developed the “Greenville Gastric Bypass,” shows conclusively that not only does the surgery result in durable weight loss but also causes a long-term remission of type 2 diabetes in patients who undergo the surgery.

Credit offered through ACE consortium

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As an ECU distance education student, Theresa Shouse represents a group of students who are most likely to benefit from the new ACE alternative credit project. The program will ease the path for nontraditional learners through an agreement to accept transfer credits for more general education courses. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

As an ECU distance education student, Theresa Shouse represents a group of students who are most likely to benefit from the new ACE alternative credit project. The program will ease the path for nontraditional learners through an agreement to accept transfer credits for more general education courses. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

ECU News Services

East Carolina University has joined an American Council on Education alternative credit consortium as part of an initiative to create a more flexible pathway toward a college degree for millions of nontraditional learners.

The 25 institutions serving in the ACE pilot project have agreed to accept all or most of the transfer credit sought by students who successfully complete courses that are part of a selected pool of about 100 low-cost or no-cost lower division general education online courses. These institutions also will help identify the sources, criteria and quality of the courses.

The participating institutions represent a diverse group of four-year and two-year, public and private, non-profit and for-profit colleges and universities that have a strong commitment to access and attainment and serving nontraditional learners.

Among others, they include Central Michigan University, University of Memphis, Northern Arizona University and fellow N.C. schools Fayetteville State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“ECU is serious about its commitment to non-traditional, ‘part-way’ home and military populations,” said ECU Senior Associate Provost Austin Bunch.

“This project will allow East Carolina to get a jump start on piloting alternative course credit from both traditional colleges and universities as well as non-accredited education providers such as the ACE’s credit program for military training. We are honored to be among the 25 founding institutions.”

Participating institutions have agreed to provide anonymized data to ACE regarding the amount of credit their institution accepts, as well as progress and success rates of students transferring in courses through this project. Additional college, university and system partners will be recruited in fall 2015 to join the consortium.

This initiative is made possible by the support of a $1.89 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its initial focus will be on the more than 31 million adults who have completed some postsecondary coursework but lack a degree or credential; but many of these students represent first-generation, low-income students, so findings from this investment likely will apply to younger students from this population, as well.

 

About ACE: Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It provides leadership on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy. For more information, please visit www.acenet.edu or follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation.

Bond to present ‘Crossing the Color Line’

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Historian and civil rights activist Julian Bond will present the Lawrence F. Brewster Lecture in History at 7 p.m. Nov. 18 in Wright Auditorium at East Carolina University.

Julian Bond

Julian Bond

Bond will present “Crossing the Color Line: From Rhythm ‘N Blues to Rock ‘N Roll,” as part of the Voyages of Discovery Lecture Series on campus. He will discuss the civil rights movement through a history of American music, using images and bits of music to trace the melding of jazz, blues, country music and pop into rock & roll, all while examining this transformation through the influences of race, demographics, war, immigration and technology.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Department of History, ECU Chancellor’s Office, Office of the Provost, Division of Student Affairs, and the Division of Health Sciences.

One complimentary ticket is available to ECU students with a valid ECU ID. Tickets are $10 for ECU faculty, staff, and all other attendees, and are available through the ECU Central Ticket Office by calling 252-328-4788 or 1-800-ECU-ARTS.

For additional information on the Voyages lectures, visit http://www.ecu.edu/voyages. More information about the THCAS is located at https://www.ecu.edu/cas.

Alumna is on-air reporter

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Oughton

Hali Oughton

 

By Steve Tuttle
ECU News Services

Former East Carolina University soccer star Hali Oughton was interviewed by the media many times during her college career. Now she’s the one holding the microphone in her job as an on-air reporter for the American Athletic Conference.

Oughton, who graduated in May 2013 with a degree in communication, was back on campus Oct. 5 for the ECU-SMU football game to film segments for the American conference’s weekly web video show, “The Rise.” It was ECU’s first official game as a new member of the conference. Her report for that game can be seen here.

“Being in front of the camera is a fun aspect of the job because I get to tell the stories of our conference and really engage with the fans,” Oughton said.

Based at the American’s headquarters in Providence, Rhode Island, Oughton travels frequently to film episodes of her show on the campuses of the 11 conference members.

“It’s funny how things work out,” she said. “Being a student-athlete at East Carolina makes this opportunity with the American really special to me. I get to work with my alma mater on a day-to-day basis as well as schools I have previously competed against on the soccer field when we were in Conference USA.”

Oughton, a native of Redondo Beach, California, was a four-year starter on ECU’s soccer team and a team captain. She was named a first-team All-Conference USA player her senior year.

A key member of the soccer team’s defense throughout her college career, she was known for her stamina. She started 60 consecutive games and played every minute in 18 of the 20 matches her senior year.

She played in all 10 of the team’s shutouts her senior year and scored three goals, two of which were game winners.

“My degree from ECU has definitely helped me get to where I am today,” she said. “I built great relationships with many of my colleagues and professors. Interning at WNCT-TV under Brian Bailey gave me a great deal of experience in my last two years of college.”

A new episode of “The Rise” airs each Tuesday at the American website.

You can follow her on Twitter at @Halioughton.

 

ECU experts discuss Ebola crisis

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Members of the ECU panel discussing Ebola Oct. 16 were, left to right, ECU graduate student Issa Thullah, a native of Sierra Leone; Angela Thompson, History; Kristina Simeonsson, Public Health, Brody School of Medicine; Viva Reynolds, Geography, Planning and Environment; Holly Mathews, Anthropology; Paul Cook, Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Brody School of Medicine; Alethia Cook, Security Studies; and Bob Thompson, Public Administration. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Members of the ECU panel discussing Ebola Oct. 16 were, left to right, ECU graduate student Issa Thullah, a native of Sierra Leone; Angela Thompson, History; Kristina Simeonsson, Public Health, Brody School of Medicine; Viva Reynolds, Geography, Planning and Environment; Holly Mathews, Anthropology; Paul Cook, Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Brody School of Medicine; Alethia Cook, Security Studies; and Bob Thompson, Public Administration. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Kelly Setzer
ECU News Services

As fears about Ebola continue to spread much faster than the virus itself, experts from East Carolina University offered their perspectives on the issue during a panel discussion on Oct. 16.

During “Ebola: African Dilemma or Global Health Crisis?” eight multi-disciplinary panelists presented to a standing-room-only crowd of 175 attendees before opening the floor to questions.

Dr. Paul Cook, an infectious disease expert from ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, said he felt confident about the infrastructure and an ability to control the virus locally if it became necessary, but that he does not anticipate seeing a case in Greenville. “I don’t think we need to fear Ebola. I think we need to fear the fear of Ebola,” he said.

The Ebola virus first appeared in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The current epidemic is focused largely in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, it is by far the most severe Ebola outbreak in history, exceeding the death totals from all previous outbreaks added together.

An overflow crowd gathered to listen to a panel of ECU experts as they shared their perspectives on Ebola Oct. 16.

An overflow crowd gathered to listen to a panel of ECU experts as they shared their perspectives on Ebola Oct. 16.

A native of Sierra Leone, graduate student Issa Thullah served on the panel to offer his unique insight about the western region of Africa. He said he doesn’t personally know of anyone infected with the virus, but he has heard of many cases in his hometown of Freetown.

“Misconceptions are rampant there, and it fuels a strong distrust of doctors,” he told the crowd. “There have been decades of injustice, abuse and corruption by government officials and health care providers who are supposed to protect the public in Sierra Leone.”

Holly Mathews, a professor of anthropology, added, “It’s hard for Americans to conceptualize the health care system in Africa because it’s virtually non-existent. There’s a lot of suspicion and paranoia about attempts to keep patients in isolation and prevent the spread of disease.”

Also featured on the panel were: Alethia Cook, director of ECU’s Security Studies program; Viva Reynolds from Geography, Planning and Environment; Dr. Kristina Simeonsson, an associate professor at the Brody School of Medicine and public health expert; Angela Thompson from the Department of History; and Bob Thompson from the Department of Public Administration.

The Q&A session allowed attendees to address their concerns directly with local experts on infectious disease and pandemics.

Jen Fox, a sophomore in political science, said she would be getting extra credit by attending the event, but that she planned to be there anyway.

“We hear so much on the news about it,” she said. “I really wanted to hear from Dr. (Alethia) Cook on the issue, since I’ve had a class with her and I trust her expertise, instead of just reading Facebook articles that people keep sharing.”

Holly Mathews, left, from the ECU Department of Anthropology and Paul Cook, Internal Medicine / Infectious Disease at Brody School of Medicine, spoke about the Ebola outbreak at the Oct. 16 event.

Holly Mathews, left, from the ECU Department of Anthropology and Paul Cook, Internal Medicine / Infectious Diseases at Brody School of Medicine, spoke about the Ebola outbreak at the Oct. 16 event.

The World Health Organization reported a total of 4,493 deaths out of 8,998 suspected cases as of Oct. 15. There have only been three cases of Ebola diagnosed in the U.S., and the virus can only be spread by direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person after symptoms have developed.

“The risk (of transmission) is highest when someone is exhibiting symptoms and is at their sickest, so that’s good, because people won’t be at Harris Teeter or Starbucks when they’re sick anyway,” Simeonsson said.

And to answer the question posed in the name of the event, the panelists agreed: we’re all in it together. Ebola is a global problem, not just Africa’s.

“This is definitely a worldwide issue. In addition to airlines canceling flights in and out of the area, you’ve got health care workers being sent from all over,” Reynolds said. “And there’s a significant economic impact as oil exports through Nigeria are now being affected.”

ECU Preparations

As the country braces for more diagnoses of Ebola, ECU is making plans to ensure the campus community remains safe and protected from the virus.

Bill Koch, associate vice chancellor for environmental health and safety, said, “Although experts believe that Ebola poses a low risk to Greenville and ECU, our communicable disease team is working with Vidant, the Pitt County Health Department and other UNC schools to update our plans, coordinate efforts and resources and prepare our staff just in case.”

Among the ongoing efforts of campus officials:

  • The UNC campus system is in constant communication with infectious disease experts at the state health department and CDC. All campuses are sharing information and are getting prepared should any further action be needed.
  • The ECU Communicable Disease Outbreak Planning Committee has been convening for the past several months, focused on identifying potential needs and action steps for various emergency scenarios, including influenza and Ebola.
  • The committee is comprised of ECU experts as well as members of the local health care community, including Vidant, Pitt County Health Department and Pitt County Emergency Management, to ensure collaboration and sharing of resources.
  • A section of the ECU Alert website has been dedicated to the aggregation of campus-wide resources for Ebola.
  • Ebola awareness has been promoted to students and faculty who potentially traveled to West Africa; a handout illustrates what steps should be taken if travel has occurred.
  • An “Ebola: the facts, not the hype” blog post was shared by Student Health Services to clarify truths about the virus.
  • The Anthropology Student Organization and the ECU Chapter of Project Tumara hosted an Ebola Awareness Week. Events included an informational booth on Oct. 7 and a bake sale benefitting relief in Sierra Leone on Oct. 8.

Cousteau calls attention to ocean resources

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Underwater explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau visited with East Carolina University students Oct. 1 before delivering the premier lecture for the Voyages of Discovery lecture series on campus. Cousteau urged better management of the Earth's oceans, which make up 75 percent of the planet. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Underwater explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau visited with East Carolina University students Oct. 1 before delivering the premier lecture for the Voyages of Discovery lecture series on campus. Cousteau urged better management of the Earth’s oceans, which make up 75 percent of the planet. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Lacey Gray
For ECU News Services

Renowned underwater explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau urged action to protect endangered ocean resources in a presentation Oct. 1 at East Carolina University.

“Marine debris is a global problem with a global solution,” he said. “Every one of us can change this problem.”

Cousteau presented “The Great Ocean Adventure” to an audience of approximately 1,500 in Wright Auditorium, as part of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Voyages of Discovery lecture series.

Students listen attentively to underwater explorer, film producer and environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau. Students from a variety of disciplines including biology, coastal resources management, maritime studies, anthropology and the Honors College were selected for the opportunity to meet with Cousteau.

Students listen attentively to underwater explorer, film producer and environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau. Students from a variety of disciplines including biology, coastal resources management, maritime studies, anthropology and the Honors College were selected for the opportunity to meet with Cousteau.

He said that all individuals are connected to the oceans, that without water there is no life, and that decisions made about how those resources are managed have tremendous impact. The chemicals in the products produced by industry and discarded trash all make it into the water systems that ultimately flow into the oceans, affecting marine life, he added.

Cousteau introduced a video showing thousands of bits of plastic, bottles, bags and trash that littered the water and shores of Necker Island, 1,200 miles north of Hawaii. “We were shocked to see what was out there in the middle of the ocean,” he said. “What people think is, out of sight – out of mind.”

Cousteau’s work continues a mission initiated by his father, Jacques Cousteau, to preserve the oceans and the life within them. He asked the audience to consider how they might make a positive impact on the environment, especially critical water resources. “I know we will make a difference, but we have a lot to do,” he said.

Cosponsors of the Cousteau lecture included ECU’s Chancellor’s Office, Office of the Provost, Division of Research and Graduate Studies, Division of Student Affairs and Division of Health Sciences. The Voyages of Discovery Lecture Series is made possible through contributions from Harriot College’s Dean’s Advancement Council, various university organizations and many friends and supporters. To contribute, contact Major Gifts Officer Jennifer Tripp at 252-737-4201 or trippj@ecu.edu.

For additional information about the Voyages series and upcoming speakers, visit www.ecu.edu/voyages.

Paul published in Science magazine

Joseph Paul

An East Carolina University EC Scholar and biology major concluded a summer research experience at Stanford University with an article published in Science magazine.

Joseph Paul

Joseph Paul

Joseph W. Paul III helped his mentor at Stanford review two original manuscripts on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The fatal neurodegenerative disease has received national attention recently because of the popular ice bucket challenge to raise funds for ALS research.

Paul’s work resulted in the paper “Clogging information flow in ALS,” co-authored by Aaron D. Gitler, associate professor of genetics at Stanford. The article appears in the Sept. 5 edition of Science. The article explores the implications of new research into the largest genetic cause of ALS and another disease, frontotemporal dementia. It can be found at: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/345/6201/1118.full.pdf?sid=a4c42bbf-cc94-4681-b1bf-40eb2a373dc4.

Paul is the son of West Paul, ’92 MD and PhD ECU Brody School of Medicine, and Sheri Paul of Raleigh.

The EC Scholars is the university’s most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship program. The four-year merit scholarship recognizes outstanding academic performance, commitment to community engagement and strong leadership skills. Recipients also receive a stipend for study abroad.

Event encourages innovation in medicine

Hosts of TEDMEDLive at ECU David Holder, left, and Dylan Suttle talk during the event.
ECU Honors College student and EC Scholar Tori Chapman, a nutrition science major, writes on a board designed to stimulate thought and discussion at the TEDMEDLive at ECU event Sept. 13. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

ECU Honors College student and EC Scholar Tori Chapman, a nutrition science major, writes on a board designed to stimulate thought and discussion at the TEDMEDLive at ECU event Sept. 13. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

How much can be said about the state of health care in 18 minutes or less? You might be surprised. The nonprofit TED organization has devoted itself to spreading ideas in the form of short, powerful talks since the mid-1980s. TEDMED applies that concept to health care and medicine.

But more important than the talks are the discussions those brief presentations prompt, according to a group of students and faculty who replicated the live TEDMED environment at East Carolina University for the first time Sept. 13.

Hosts of TEDMEDLive at ECU David Holder, left, and Dylan Suttle talk during the event.

Hosts of TEDMEDLive at ECU David Holder, left, and Dylan Suttle talk during the event.

Dylan Suttle, a fourth-year medical student and president of the 2015 Brody School of Medicine class, first proposed the idea for TEDMEDLive at ECU. He attended a national TEDMED event in Washington, D.C., last fall and was inspired by the experience.

“The talks are the sideshow at the real event, (compared to) the collaboration, idea sharing and meeting people outside the talks themselves. I wanted to replicate that here,” he said.

“So much is going on here at ECU but no one has the chance to talk about it. We talk with the faculty, the physicians, but there’s always a wall there. This event breaks all those down.”

He sought help from fellow students, faculty and staff from Brody – and funding from regional partner Vidant Health – and the 150-seat event sold out within the first few weeks of registration.

“The spirit is fun collaboration and inspiration,” said Dr. David Holder, clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Brody and emcee for the Saturday event. “We want conversations.”

A series of eight talks streamed from national TEDMED events in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco provided enough fodder to get people started. Topics ranged from the relationship between drug addiction and neuroscience, to the need for transparency in how doctors are paid, to how intentional usage of light and sound can improve health care environments and healing.

Tori Chapman, a nutrition science major and sophomore in ECU’s Honors College, was particularly struck by one patient’s tale about how a cocktail of multiple prescription drugs created a psychosis that was not present when she first went to the doctor.

“The power of her story makes you think differently,” Chapman said. “And that’s what TED is for. It’s encouraging to see there are people trying to change health care for the good.”

The most unique component of the ECU event was the inclusion of four “homegrown” speakers – men and women from ECU who want to start dialogues about topics of their own choosing. Suttle said organizers considered many impressive applicants, but only four were chosen.

Dr. Daniel Goldberg, assistant professor in the Department of Bioethics and Interdisciplinary Studies, spoke about moving beyond “sick care” to implement social medicine and improve population health.

Dr. Krista McCoy, assistant professor in the Department of Biology, shared frightening statistics about how environmental chemical exposure leads to endocrine disruption and childhood disease.

Dr. Sam Sears, professor in the departments of psychology and cardiovascular sciences, explained that technology is enabling people to live longer, but asked whether they can be happy and feel secure in their health as they cope with chronic disease.

Julie Barrett, a fourth-year medical student, urged the audience and physicians to stop blaming patients who are obese, examine the underlying science and partner with them instead of judging.

Suttle hopes the true impact of this event can be measured through future collaborations and innovations.

“I want to hear about research or some great development where someone says ‘this all started when we met at TEDMED.’”

For more information about the event, visit http://tedmedliveecu.org/.

Attorney General Cooper visits ECU

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper presented advice for student financial health during a visit to East Carolina University Sept. 18. The visit was part of a statewide College Cash & Credit Tour. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper presented advice for student financial health during a visit to East Carolina University Sept. 18. The visit was part of a statewide College Cash & Credit Tour. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper presented advice for student financial health during a visit to East Carolina University Sept. 18. The visit was part of a statewide College Cash & Credit Tour. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Kelly Setzer
ECU News Services

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper visited East Carolina University Sept. 18 as part of an initiative to educate college consumers on making wise financial choices.

Cooper hosted approximately 35 ECU students and guests in Mendenhall Student Center for the College Cash & Credit Tour. The event featured presentations from experts in his Consumer Protection Division on student loans, credit and debit cards and the risks of identity theft.

ECU junior Ashley Griffith, center, said she appreciated the opportunity to learn about resources available for financial wellbeing.

ECU junior Ashley Griffith, center, said she appreciated the opportunity to learn about resources available for financial wellbeing.

“We want to offer tips today to make your lives easier and to help you avoid financial problems in the future,” Cooper told students in attendance. “It’s also really important that you know where to go to find the resources you may need.”

Ashley Griffith, a junior in business management and marketing at ECU, said the identity theft recommendations were especially useful to her. “And it’s nice to know that I have a governmental support team (in the Attorney General’s office) behind me if some kind of fraud does happen.”

Assistant Attorney General Matt Liles indicated in his presentation that 59% of college students in North Carolina graduate with some form of student debt. He said at ECU, specifically, that number was 65% in 2012. “It works out to be approximately $24,000 per person right off the bat when you graduate.”

ECU’s Director of Financial Aid Julie Poorman provides guidance and support to students and their families during the financial aid process. She offered some additional advice to students in the crowd.

“We often encourage students to keep an eye on their student loans with the National Student Loan Data System,” Poorman said. “When they go to do loan consolidation or check their credit reports later on, those student loans should match what’s on their NSLDS account.”

In addition to ECU, Cooper’s tour included stops at five other North Carolina college campuses: High Point University, Queens University in Charlotte, Shaw University in Raleigh, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington.

Resources from the event, such as a student checklist and videos of the presentations, are available online at ncdoj.gov.

Grant furthers telepsychiatry program

Saeed

ECU News Services

A $1.5 million grant from The Duke Endowment will fund further expansion of the Statewide Telepsychiatry Program (NC-STeP), based out of East Carolina University.

Saeed

Saeed

The grant was awarded to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Rural Health and Community Care. ECU’s Center for Telepsychiatry began coordinating NC-STeP services in fall 2013.

By using secure, real-time interactive audio and video technology at the bedside, telepsychiatry enables mental health providers to diagnose and treat people needing care at any remote referring site.

“The statewide telepsychiatry program is about providing the best evidence-based care to our patients regardless of where they may be located – large cities or small towns in NC,” said Dr. Sy Saeed, principal investigator on the Duke Endowment grant, director of NC-STeP and chair of the Department of Psychiatric Medicine at ECU. “The expansion of the program through this funding will facilitate enhancing community capacity for caring for people with mental illness,” Saeed said.

The Duke Endowment grant will be disbursed in two installments – $800,000 in 2014 and $700,000 in 2015 – and will be used to build upon the initial success of the telepsychiatry program. Success of this expansion project will result in improved care for patients and cost savings to participating patients, local hospitals, local law enforcement and state hospitals.

Chris Collins, the director of the Office of Rural Health and Community Care, expressed gratitude for this ongoing public and private partnership.

“The additional resources will complement state funding, allowing the telepsychiatry program to expand statewide,” Collins said. “This initiative addresses critical health professional shortages and creates unprecedented community access for individuals in rural and underserved areas to receive treatment for a mental health emergency.”

Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $3 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.

100th sustainable-practice business named

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The ECU Center for Sustainability is a partner in the NC GreenTravel Initiative, which has named the Uptown Greenville Umbrella Market its 100th North Carolina business to be recognized for use of sustainable practices that save energy and protect the environment. The Umbrella Market is a Greenville farmer’s market that features locally-grown food and a free shuttle providing transportation.

Pat Long, director of the ECU Center for Sustainability, is pictured with the travel care code, which encourage travelers to take a pledge to travel responsibly. The code was developed at ECU.

Pat Long, director of the ECU Center for Sustainability, is pictured with the ECU-developed travel care code, which encourages travelers to take a pledge to travel responsibly.

The GreenTravel Initiative helps tourists locate lodging, restaurants and activities that will enable them to visit an area while making a positive impact on the environment, society and economy. The program began in 2011 as a joint effort between the ECU center, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, N.C. Department of Commerce and the Waste Reduction Partners.

Tourism-focused businesses apply for the program and are selected through a grading system that measures environmentally friendly practices used to conserve energy and water, reduce waste, recycle and protect the environment.

More than 50 million tourists visited North Carolina in 2013, according to the state Department of Commerce. Among those visitors, more and more are seeking out businesses that maintain sustainable practices. The NC GreenTravel Initiative helps by identifying those businesses.

“We know our tourism economy depends upon the protection of our nationally recognized travel offerings,” said Pat Long, director of the ECU Center for Sustainability.

“It will only be enhanced by sending a clear message that North Carolina tourism providers are working hard to limit energy and water use, reduce waste generation, and still provide the quality vacation and business travel experience travelers have become accustomed to.”

For additional information on NC GreenTravel, visit http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/deao/ncgreentravel

For more information on the ECU Center for Sustainability, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-tecs/sustainabletourism/index.cfm.

For information on the Travel Care Code developed by the center, visit http://www.ecu.edu/news/travelcarecode.cfm.

 

ECU research highlighted in NatGeo

twomey
Twomey

Twomey

Research from the ECU Department of Biology on Peruvian glassfrogs was highlighted in National Geographic.

Graduate student Evan Twomey, quoted in the piece, has teamed with former grad student Jesse Delia in the research.

According to the article, the research has identified four new species of the see-through frogs, some with green bones. The species is known for gaudy coloring including yellow circles around the eyes.

Read the article in National Geographic…

tglassfrog

 

Jorgensen tapped on financial literacy

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Jorgensen

Jorgensen

ECU professor Dr. Bryce Jorgensen was featured on Bankrate.com, Foxbusiness.com and NASDAQ.com in an article about teaching children about money.

Jorgensen said that teaching children financial literacy at an early age is critical. “Money influences…marriage, children, where we work, how much we pay in interest, whether we can get a loan, how much debt we are in, a comfortable retirement,” he said.

Read the bankrate.com article. Read the Fox article. Read the NASDAQ article.

Saeed interviewed on NPR

saeed
Dr. Sy Saeed

Dr. Sy Saeed

Dr. Sy Saeed, chairman of the Department of Psychiatric Medicine at the Brody School of Medicine, was interviewed on NPR’s “All Things Considered” May 7 regarding the effectiveness of telepsychiatry in bringing much needed mental health care to underserved regions.

Saeed shared with NPR’s Robert Siegel that patients have found the experience of interacting via telepsychiatry to be much like a face-to-face interaction. He said that a few minutes into the two-way video hookup, many patients “forget they are talking to the doctor via this monitor.”

According to the NPR program, telepsychiatry is addressing a significant challenge for the state – the lack of mental health care providers in rural areas.

ECU is part of a statewide telepsychiatry program that links hospital emergency departments to mental health professionals who can initiate treatment for emergency department patients in mental health or substance abuse crisis.

Read more and listen to the interview at http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/05/07/308749287/telepsychiatry-brings-emergency-mental-health-care-to-rural-areas

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