ECU doctoral student receives travel scholarship to conference in South Africa

An ECU doctoral student is one of only five students nationwide who will represent the United States this summer at an international conference on pharmacology in South Africa.

lak2Lalage Katunga, of the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, is the recipient of a Graduate Student Travel Award from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, which will send her to present research at the 17th World Congress of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology in Cape Town from July 13-18.

Katunga joined the laboratory of Dr. Ethan Anderson, assistant professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology, in 2011 to investigate the role that lipid peroxide-end products aldehydes play in cardiac remodeling in the setting of insulin resistance/pre-diabetes. Her primary interest is in nutrition and metabolism, which began while she was working as a research assistant at the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute in Kannapolis. There, she investigated the health impact of nutritional transition to a more western diet in Inuvialuit women in the Northwest Territories in Canada.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the rates of heart disease are two- to four-times greater among individuals with diabetes. This is an area of active research as these complications are expensive to treat and carry a much worse prognosis for the patient. Katunga will present the findings of her research on a novel drug carnosinol, designed to mitigate the harmful effects of diabetes, in Cape Town.

Katunga is originally from Harare, Zimbabwe. She would like to continue a career in research to understand the factors that predispose certain subsets of the population to disease, and how this knowledge can be used to improve patient responses to drugs.

“She is outstanding and I know she will be an excellent representative of ECU, and the American Society of Pharmacology at this meeting in South Africa,” said Anderson.


ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation names new board members



The East Carolina University Medical & Health Sciences Foundation recently named five new board members. They are David Brody of Kinston; Dasha Little of Chesapeake, Va.; Dennis Young of Wallace; Kathy Walker and Lamont Wooten, both of Greenville.

A former chair of the ECU Board of Trustees, Brody is the managing partner with Brody Associates. He also serves the university as a member of the Brody Foundation Board of Directors.

A 1981 graduate of ECU, Little is president/owner of Apogee Solutions. She is a member of the Women’s Roundtable at ECU and was recognized in 2013 as one of 10 “Incredible ECU Women.”

Walker established the Walker Distinguished Professorship in Clinical Oncology as well as the Leo Jenkins Canter Center Coach Roggeman Cancer Research Fund. She is married to Dr. Paul Walker, director of Thoracic Oncology at Leo Jenkins Cancer Center and is an active community volunteer.

An orthopedic surgeon, Wooten is an emeritus member of Orthopedics East and Sports Medicine Center Inc. He serves on the advisory board for the Harriet and John Wooten Laboratory for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Research at the Brody School of Medicine.

Young retired from ECU in 2012. In 2006, he became the associate athletic director focusing on major gifts and served as executive director of the Pirate Club from 1991-2006.

The East Carolina University Medical & Health Sciences Foundation serves the College of Allied Health Sciences, Brody School of Medicine, College of Nursing, Laupus Library, Leo Jenkins Cancer Center, East Carolina Heart Institute, School of Dental Medicine, East Carolina Diabetes & Obesity Institute and the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute with financial support, scholarships, education and research.



East Carolina Endoscopy Center achieves AAAHC reaccreditation

The East Carolina Endoscopy Center has achieved reaccreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC).  Accreditation distinguishes this endoscopy center by recognizing high quality of care provided to its patients as determined by an independent, external process of evaluation.

Status as an accredited organization means the East Carolina Endoscopy Center has met nationally-recognized standards for the provision of quality health care set by AAAHC.  More than 5,000 ambulatory health care organizations across the United States are accredited by AAAHC. Not all ambulatory health care organizations seek accreditation; not all that undergo the rigorous on-site survey process are granted accreditation.

“We believe our patients deserve the best,” said Ginger Edwards, administrator of the East Carolina Endoscopy Center. “When you see our certificate of accreditation, you will know that AAAHC, an independent, not-for-profit organization, has closely examined our facility and procedures.  It means that our organization cares enough about our patients to strive for the highest level of care possible.”

Ambulatory health care organizations seeking accreditation by AAAHC undergo an extensive self-assessment and on-site survey by AAAHC expert surveyors – physicians, nurses, and administrators who are actively involved in ambulatory health care.  The survey is consultative and educational, presenting best practices to help an organization improve its care and services.

The East Carolina Endoscopy Center, founded in 2009, is a joint venture between the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and Vidant Medical Center. It is located at 521 Moye Boulevard.  To schedule an appointment, call 252-744-8400.


Heart teams vital for patient care success

Dr. Michael J. Mack

Dr. Michael J. Mack

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

One of the nation’s leading heart surgeons says cardiologists and surgeons should work together as teams to provide the best options and care for patients with cardiovascular disease – an approach that’s already in use at East Carolina University.

Dr. Michael J. Mack, medical director of cardiovascular surgery at Baylor Scott & White Health and chairman of The Heart Hospital at the Baylor Plano Research Center, both in Dallas, spoke Wednesday at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU.

Mack emphasized the need for hospitals to align economically with practitioners and the need for transparency in payment systems, since payment models will be based on the best clinical outcomes. He also noted the need for new ways of teaching younger medical professionals to ensure mastery of surgical techniques.

Mack was speaking at the 12th annual Will Camp Sealy Lecture in Cardiothoracic Surgery. Approximately 250 health care professionals and students attended.


ECU sonographer receives national award

Diana McCormick Strickland, a sonographer at East Carolina University, has received the



2014 Distinguished Sonographer Award from the American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine.

She is a registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer and a registered diagnostic medical sonographer. She works in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Brody School of Medicine, where she is a clinical assistant professor and co-director of ultrasound in the division of maternal-fetal medicine.

Strickland specializes in high-risk obstetric ultrasound and fetal echocardiography.

Strickland has an associate degree from Caldwell Community College, a bachelor’s degree from ECU and a certificate in advanced radiologic technology from Duke University.

Sonographers operate ultrasonic imaging devices to produce diagnostic images, scans, videos or 3-D volumes of data.

The award will be presented at the 2104 AIUM annual convention March 29-April 2 in Las Vegas.