Allied Health professor inducted into National Academy of Inventors

By Kelly Dilda
For ECU News Services

Stuttering treatment pioneer Dr. Joseph S. Kalinowski of East Carolina University’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders is among 168 individuals to be named this year as fellows of the National Academy of Inventors.

Election to the academy’s fellow status recognizes academic inventors who, according to their peers, have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that impact quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.

Kalinowski mug.jpgKalinowski holds seven U.S. and 18 international patents, three of which have been licensed to start-up companies. His most notable patents relate to treatments for stuttering and other fluency disorders. Janus Development Group, a North Carolina coproration that specializes in assistive living devices, has licensed these patents for developing products and services.

In addition, one patent is the subject of new computer applications to assist a subset of stutterers who struggle with silent block – caused when vocal muscle contractions are so severe a person is unable to make any sound when trying to speak. Another has been licensed to start-up company Reading Comprehension Solutions for development of products and services that improve reading comprehension of students and adults.

Kalinowski’s passion for helping people with communication disorders grew out of his own childhood experiences.

“I was a severe stutterer as a child but noticed that I was totally and immediately fluent when reciting the ‘Pledge of Allegiance,’ or during unison prayer in church,” said Kalinowski. “It seemed strange to me that something that was so debilitating and despairing could be eliminated when others said the same material at the same time. Choral or unison speech are rare events in our daily lives but those respites from severe stuttering were cherished.”

During the five years Kalinowski attended the University of Connecticut as an undergraduate student, he never spoke in class. He was also excused from group presentations, and job interviews were “immensely painful.”

He was drawn to graduate school to learn more about stuttering and earned a Ph.D. in Speech Pathology. After landing his first job with Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, he learned of a colleague’s interest in Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF).

Developed in the 1950s, DAF technology extended the time between the user’s speech and their auditory perception that speech. The user spoke into a device with a microphone and then heard his voice in headphones a fraction of a second later. The delay resulted in slower speech, which was thought to reduce stuttering.

Kalinowski worked on refining that technology to make speech sounds easier to manipulate. “I tried it on myself and our group had a ‘eureka’ moment,” he said. “I could speak as fast as I wanted and still be fluent.”

Then Kalinowski came to ECU in 1995 and began collaborating with colleagues Drs. Andrew Stuart and Michael Rastatter, which resulted in the development of SpeechEasy, a popular DAF device that fits inconspicuously inside the ear.

“We weren’t even thinking about building a device when we started collaborating,” said Stuart, noting that it was a natural progression from the powerful effects of altered feedback and participant demand to have something they could take away from the lab.

“With the work of Dr. Kalinowski, a new method of treating fluency disorders – such as stuttering – brings the best and brightest students to the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders so they can be at the cutting edge of new technology and transform the care for future patients,” said Marti Van Scott, director of ECU’s Office of Technology Transfer.

Kalinowski said the team continues its work on applications to help stutterers and others with communication disorders. “There is much more to be done,” he said. “Some will be done by us but most will be done by our students until stuttering no longer exists.

“People in stuttering are passionate about their work,” he added. “We may differ in our scientific opinions but we are working so children and adults can live full lives.”

“Many things are coming together that have ECU on the verge of an innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem explosion that will not only benefit the institution and its students, but also the region,” said Van Scott.  “Dr. Kalinowski and his co-inventors are excellent examples of faculty who push the limits of innovation and discovery to benefit the people of eastern North Carolina and beyond.”

Founded in 2010, the National Academy of Inventors is a non-profit member organization comprised of U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutions, with over 3,000 individual inventor members and fellows spanning more than 200 institutions.

ECU professor elected to lead N.C. Public Health Association

An associate professor in East Carolina University¹s Department of Public Health has been elected president of the North Carolina Public Health Association (NCPHA).

Lea

Lea

Dr. Suzanne Lea, who also serves as the vice-chair of the Brody School of Medicine Women Faculty Committee, began leading the state affiliate of the American Public Health Association in September.

The NCPHA, which was founded over 105 years ago, is a professional association of both individuals and organizations that work together in order to improve the public¹s health through political advocacy, public awareness, professional development, and the interface between research and practice.

“Traditionally, NCPHA membership has been comprised of dedicated professionals working in the state and local health departments providing preventive and public health services,” said Lea, in her first memo as president. “As the role of public health has expanded in recent decades, NCPHA has a goal to broaden our reach to proactively engage all individuals who embrace their role within public health systems in our state.”

As president, Lea intends to boost the engagement of young professionals through leadership training and to develop collaborations with other professional associations in North Carolina that promote health improvement.

Lea, whose professional experience spans over 20 years in the field of applied epidemiology and public health practice, joined the Brody faculty in 2008. Prior to that, she served as a research epidemiologist at Triangle Institute International in Research Triangle Park. She has also worked as a communicable disease epidemiologist for the Department of Health and Human Services in San Rafael, California; as the chief epidemiology officer for the Arkansas Department of Health in Little Rock, Arkansas; and as a communicable disease epidemiologist for the Department of Public Health in San Francisco, California.

She holds a master¹s in public health from Yale University and a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. She has authored numerous research articles, papers and textbook chapters focused on cancer, public health practice and health disparities.

– Amy Ellis

PA Studies professor advances urgent care research

By Alyssa Gutierrez
For ECU News Services

An East Carolina University faculty member in Physician Assistant Studies is prompting emergency department clinicians to thoroughly analyze urinalysis results for the possible diagnosis of serious illnesses.

Natalie Smith

Natalie Smith

Natalie Smith, a clinical assistant professor and practicing physician assistant in emergency medicine, was published in the Journal of Urgent Care Medicine after she determined that routine urinalysis results can show an underlying presence of potentially life-threatening diseases. In her article, “Hyperbilirubinemia – An Urgent Care Approach,” Smith describes how she was able to link the presence of bilirubin in urine to a serious diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Bilirubin is a waste product of the normal breakdown of red blood cells and is responsible for the typical brown appearance of feces and yellow appearance of urine. It is most known for causing medical issues when it gets into the blood stream, usually resulting in jaundice, or yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes.

It was while working in the emergency department that Smith came across a case that demonstrated the importance of thoroughly reviewing urinalysis results. The patient, a 65-year-old woman, reported symptoms of dark urine as well as discomfort and a burning sensation while urinating. The patient, along with her family, viewed those symptoms as the result of a urinary tract infection and requested antibiotics that would address what she considered to be a UTI.

Smith ordered a urinalysis and all of the results were consistent with a UTI, with the exception of the presence of bilirubin. Bilirubin led Smith to believe there was a hepatobiliary system issue, which can affect the liver, pancreas, bile ducts, and gall bladder. Additional tests and procedures determined the patient did indeed have a serious health concern and she was eventually diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Smith, who is the first professor in the PA Studies department to be published, believes this case and discovery serves as a reminder to her students that they should consider the worst possible outcome, even when the patient’s presentation of symptoms seems to be routine.

“As the instructor, it is my responsibility to enable our students to think critically to understand the clinical significance of the diagnostic tests they will be ordering and interpreting,” said Smith. “On the surface, [this case] seems routine and uncomplicated, but upon more meticulous investigation actually revealed a diagnostic wolf (pancreatic cancer) disguised in seemingly benign UTI clothing.”

College of Nursing receives 10 years of accreditation

The East Carolina University College of Nursing has received 10 years of accreditation, the maximum granted by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The accreditation follows an extensive self-study and fall 2014 site visit, and applies to ECU’s baccalaureate, master’s and post-master’s certificate, and doctor of nursing practice programs.

nursingThe DNP program, established in 2013, received the maximum five years allowed for programs undergoing initial accreditation. All of the ECU programs assessed met CCNE’s four accreditation standards and with no recommendations for changes.

“We are pleased to receive such a strong endorsement of the outstanding ongoing work of our faculty, staff and students,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the College of Nursing. “The accreditation process itself was a team effort by every member of the college, both faculty and staff. We owe a special thanks to our taskforce for their extensive work in coordinating and collecting information for the self-study.”

The College of Nursing, which has been accredited since 1964, has more than 8,500 alumni and prepares the most new nurses of any institution in the state. It provides three pathways for nurses to earn their bachelor of science in nursing: the traditional BSN program, an accelerated second-degree option for students who already have a baccalaureate degree in another major, and the RN to BSN option for students who already have their two-year nursing degree and want to earn their BSN.

The college offers seven options in the master’s of science nursing program: adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist, neonatal clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthesia, neonatal nurse practitioner, nursing education, nursing leadership and nurse midwifery. The midwifery program, which is the only program of its kind in North Carolina, undergoes accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. The nurse anesthesia also undergoes a process with a specialized accrediting body, with the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs.

The doctor of nursing practice program offers a BSN to DNP option for students with an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner or family nurse practitioner focus. It also provides a post-master’s DNP option for advanced practice registered nurses. The college’s doctor of philosophy in nursing program prepares nurse scientists, with entry points for students who have their BSN, MSN or DNP.

A report provided by CCNE following the site-visit noted that testimonials from both students and community partners demonstrated the excellent quality of the college’s faculty. The accreditors also praised college staff, including the business and administrative affairs office, technology support, concept integration labs, student development and counseling, student services and marketing offices.

“The feedback we received from the accreditation team was stellar and the dedication of our faculty and staff was clearly evident,” Brown explained. “It takes a village to create such a positive learning environment for our students.”

The ECU College of Nursing is also designated as a National League for Nursing Center of Excellence in Nursing Education, an honor bestowed on just 35 schools nationwide for outstanding achievements in student learning and professional development.

– Elizabeth Willy

Laupus to host new book discussion series

Laupus Library will launch a new series April 16 titled “Speaking Volumes: A Book Discussion Series Focusing on the Health Sciences.”

The inaugural program will showcase a recently published book, Global Health Nursing: Narratives from the Field, and will be held at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16 in the Evelyn Fike Laupus Gallery, located on the 4th floor of Laupus Library. The event is free open to the public.

Chapter contributor Dr. Kim L. Larson from ECU’s College of Nursing will be joined by book editor Christina A. Harlan (UNC Chapel Hill School of Nursing), and chapter contributors Marie Collins Donahue (UNC Children’s Hospital), Christina Martinez Kim (Duke University Health Systems), and Ruth-Ann McLendon (Johns Hopkins Medical Center).

Introductory remarks will be followed by chapter readings from all four contributing authors. Each will share their own perspectives and experiences as nurses serving as front-line providers in global health. The authors will recount their personal experiences with the Ebola epidemic, treating patients with AIDS, and the challenges and rewards of confronting vast health disparities and providing health care in other languages and different cultural contexts.

The series will serves as an opportunity for others to learn more about the culture of the Division of Health Sciences and the work done by East Carolina University scholars and researchers.

“Speaking Volumes” also complements Laupus Library’s Health Sciences Author Recognition Awards program, which honors Health Sciences faculty and staff each fall for their published research and scholarly contributions to their area of study.

For more information, contact Kelly Rogers Dilda at rogerske@ecu.edu.

Retired ECU dean honored for service

Dr. Stephen Thomas, dean emeritus of the College of Allied Health Sciences at East Carolina University, pictured with his wife Melodie, recently received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award. Dr. Johnny Williams (far right), is president of the Old North State Medical Society, which nominated Thomas for the honor.

Dr. Stephen Thomas, dean emeritus of the College of Allied Health Sciences at East Carolina University, pictured with his wife Melodie, recently received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award. Dr. Johnny Williams (far right), is president of the Old North State Medical Society, which nominated Thomas for the honor.

The dean emeritus of the College of Allied Health Sciences at East Carolina University was recently honored with one of North Carolina’s most prestigious civilian awards for his outstanding service to the state in the area of health equity.

Dr. Stephen Thomas, who retired in October, was presented the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award Feb. 6 during the 11th annual Jean Mills Symposium, an event aimed at generating awareness and solutions for health problems that plague North Carolinians and especially minorities. Thomas has been instrumental in organizing the event over the past decade.

Although the honor was conferred by the governor, the surprise presentation was made by Dr. Johnny Williams, president of the Old North State Medical Society; Amos T. Mills, founder of the Mills Symposium; Dr. Don Ensley, professor emeritus of health services and information management; and Dr. Julius Mallette, president of the Andrew A. Best Medical Society.

Thomas served the university for 34 years. He joined ECU in 1980 as a faculty member in the rehabilitation studies department, tasked to start and direct the vocational evaluation master’s degree program. He was named chair of the department in 1998 and interim dean of the former School of Allied Health Sciences in April 2001.

After his promotion to dean in 2003, Thomas led the school through several new endeavors including a move from its former location in the Belk Building to the new Health Sciences Building in 2006, and a name change from the School of Allied Health Sciences to the College of Allied Health Sciences in 2007.

Mills Symposium set for Feb. 6

The 11th Jean Elaine Mills Annual Health Symposium, which focuses on health concerns and health equity issues plaguing minorities in eastern North Carolina, is set for Feb. 6 at the East Carolina Heart Institute at East Carolina University.

This year’s event will address new models for empowering personal and community health and will feature a presentation by Dr. L. Allen Dobson Jr., 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.

The day-long symposium will also include sessions on creating community partnerships focused on the behavioral causes of obesity, improving outcomes among African- American women with Type 2 diabetes, innovative approaches to mental health issues for minority adolescents, community partnerships as portals to access, improving health through community engaged dental education and new models for empowering community and minority health.

Mills was an ECU alumna who died of breast cancer in 2000. Her brother, Amos T. Mills III, created the annual event to keep her spirit of discovery and community outreach alive.

The symposium is presented by the College of Allied Health Sciences in collaboration with the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation, Inc. Health care providers, community leaders and representatives from faith-based organizations, as well as interested students, faculty and community residents are all invited to attend. To register visit http://go.ecu.edu/cb13b252.

 

Allied Health alumnus receives governor’s award

East Carolina University alumnus Joe Finley (third from left), is pictured with N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos (second from left) and two of Finley’s DHHS colleagues following the 2014 Governor’s Award for Excellence ceremony in Raleigh. (Contributed photo)

East Carolina University alumnus Joe Finley (third from left), is pictured with N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos (second from left) and two of Finley’s DHHS colleagues following the 2014 Governor’s Award for Excellence ceremony in Raleigh. (Contributed photo)

 

An alumnus of the College of Allied Health Sciences at East Carolina University was among the 38 state employees honored with a 2014 Governor’s Award for Excellence.

Joe Finley, a dysphagia specialist who works at the O’Berry Neuro-Medical Treatment Center in Goldsboro, was one of three N.C. Department of Health and Human Services workers cited for providing excellent customer service.

“Each of you may have felt you were just doing your job, but it’s the way you do your job that distinguishes you,” Governor Pat McCrory said to the honorees prior to the awards ceremony.

Finley works to find ways for program residents with extreme developmental disabilities to continue enjoying solid foods and to delay their need for liquefied diets. He developed and taught therapeutic exercises to help residents maintain or regain the ability to chew and swallow.

Finley earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication sciences and disorders from ECU in 2004 and 2006.

The Governor’s Award for Excellence is the highest award for service given to state employees. The program was created in 1982 to honor state employees for outstanding achievements.

“Each of these outstanding employees goes beyond simply performing their responsibilities to provide patient-focused care and make a difference in the lives of the people they so selflessly serve,” said DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos. “We can all be proud of our employees’ commitment to our patients and others and willingness to serve from their hearts.”

Finley’s wife Stacy holds identical degrees from the ECU College of Allied Health Sciences and is employed by Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro.

Dean Stephen W. Thomas honored with retirement reception

Retiring dean Dr. Stephen Thomas and his wife Melody stand beside the portrait unveiled at a retirement ceremony. (Photo by Gretchen Baugh)

Retiring dean Dr. Stephen Thomas and his wife Melody stand beside the portrait unveiled at a retirement ceremony. (Photo by Gretchen Baugh)

By Lauren Edmondson
College of Allied Health Sciences

Faculty and staff from across East Carolina University gathered at the East Carolina Heart Institute on Oct. 13 to honor Dr. Stephen Thomas, who will retire as the dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences this month after 34 years with the college.

Thomas came to ECU in 1980 as a faculty member in the rehabilitation studies department, tasked to start and direct the vocational evaluation master’s degree program. He was named chair of the department in 1998 then later named interim dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences in April 2001.

After his promotion to dean in 2003, Thomas led the college through several new endeavors including the move from its former location in the Belk Building to the new Health Sciences Building in 2006, and a name change to the College of Allied Health Sciences from its original name, the School of Allied Health Sciences.

The retirement reception included food and fellowship, and several gifts and honors were presented to Thomas in thanks for his service and dedication to the field. Along with a certificate of appreciation for his work with the annual Jean Mills Health Symposium, Thomas received the honor of being named Dean Emeritus and a gold stole signifying that new role.

Following the presentations, words of gratitude and praise reflected the dean’s loyalty and passion for the allied health sciences, along with quips about Thomas’ notoriously messy office. Speakers included Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences Dr. Phyllis Horns; deans from across the health sciences campus; his daughter, Dr. Darby Thomas; and chairs of the eight allied health departments.

Thomas then took the podium to thank those in attendance for their continued commitment to the college. He recognized his chairs, faculty, staff and fellow administrators, and then thanked his wife Melody for her unwavering support during his years as dean, interim dean, chair and faculty member at the college.

The evening closed with the unveiling of a portrait of Thomas painted by artist Irene Bailey to be displayed in the Health Sciences Building.

Prior to joining ECU, Thomas held academic, research and administrative positions with the University of Arizona in Tucson, the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie and the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Thomas earned his doctorate of education and his master’s degree in rehabilitation studies from the University of Arizona and his bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

Thomas said that he bases his leadership philosophy on a quote by mariner and author John Rousmaniere that states, “The goal is not to sail the boat, but rather to help the boat sail herself.”