Forum addresses hypertension

American Heart Association volunteer Tiffany King shares nutrition information with forum attendees. (Photo by Gretchen Baugh)

American Heart Association volunteer Tiffany King shares nutrition information with forum attendees. (Photo by Gretchen Baugh)

By Marla Vacek Broadfoot
Freelance science writer, NC TraCS

Hypertension – and the need to take action to prevent, treat, and control it, especially among those most vulnerable – was the subject of a day-long event held at the East Carolina Heart Institute at East Carolina University Dec. 12. The Evidence Academy on Hypertension brought together over 100 researchers, health professionals and community leaders to discuss ways to address the number one risk factor for premature death worldwide.

Throughout the day, clinicians, practitioners, researchers, community leaders and local officials discussed a broad set of evidence-based approaches to the issue, always with an eye on their possible impacts on local communities. The schedule included a series of large-group and smaller breakout scientific presentations in policy, treatment and practice tracks, with extended opportunities for participants to discuss research findings and model programs.

Following the Evidence Academy, a small group of 8 to 12 individuals known as the Action Learning Cohort will take what was gained from the meeting and collectively identify and develop ways to engage in action to address hypertension from policy, practice and research perspectives. The effort will be led by Lori Carter-Edwards, principal investigator of the Evidence Academy on Hypertension. The ALC group will meet for approximately six months, with the end goal of producing a product such as updated policy recommendations or a new pilot grant, which can then be shared with the wider community.

“My hope is that we can use the synergy and momentum from the Evidence Academy to promote efforts that help improve hypertension prevention and management in Eastern North Carolina,” said Carter-Edwards, who is also evaluator for the Public Health Leadership Program and a research associate professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

The event was sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, and the NC Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute. Additional support came from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Mid-Atlantic Affiliate, and Vidant Health. Partners included the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, Eastern Area Health Education Center (EAHEC), the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

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Medical students assist with Belhaven health clinic

Several students from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University spent a recent Saturday providing free health screenings and services to Beaufort County residents.

First year medical student Ismail Kassim works with a patient at the Belhaven health clinic. (Contributed photos)

First year medical student Ismail Kassim works with a patient at the Belhaven health clinic. (Contributed photos)

Dr. Ari Mwachofi, a professor in the Department of Public Health, coordinated their involvement in the Belhaven Community Health Fair, which took place Oct. 25.

“I am a strong believer in experiential learning,” Mwachofi said. “The students will understand health issues of poor, underserved communities better by getting involved in such communities. I am meeting with the students to do a debriefing about their experience, perceptions and what they learned.”

The students assisted by assessing blood pressure, measuring blood glucose, administering rapid HIV testing, cholesterol screening, giving flu vaccines, and distributing literature on various health topics.

The students also interpreted for Spanish-speaking patients and translated health brochures into Spanish.

Mwachofi hopes the involvement of Brody medical students in this health fair will become an annual occurrence.

The participating first-year medical students were (pictured below, left to right) Mary Ashleigh Craver, Lily Trout and Daiysha Smith, and Zachary Sutton, Alexander Almeida Larrea, Wooten Jones and Ismail Kassim. Austin Rice, a candidate for a master’s in public health from Brody, also assisted with the event.

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ECU hosts statewide research conference

Paul DeVita, a faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology, speaks with a fellow researcher(s) at the North Carolina Cartilage & Arthritis Research Alliance conference, held Oct. 3 at ECU. (Photo by Gretchen Baugh)

Paul DeVita, a faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology, speaks with a fellow researcher(s) at the North Carolina Cartilage & Arthritis Research Alliance conference, held Oct. 3 at ECU. (Photo by Gretchen Baugh)

 

The North Carolina Cartilage & Arthritis Research Alliance held a conference Oct. 3 at East Carolina University.

“It is a gathering to enhance our regional discussion of current research advances in basic and clinical sciences with a variety of experimental approaches/techniques, give young investigators the opportunity to present, and to hear established researchers from North Carolina speak,” said Dr. Cheryl B. Knudson, chair of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Brody School of Medicine.

Knudson chaired the event organizing team, which included Warren Knudson and Emily Askew – also faculty in Anatomy and Cell Biology – and Paul DeVita and Zac Domire, both of the Department of Kinesiology.

The approximately 100 attendees represented Duke University, Wake Forest University, N.C. State University, UNC Chapel Hill and ECU. In addition, more than 25 academic posters were presented. Topics covered included different scaffolds (including silk) for drug delivery and osteochondral implants, how the forces generated by walking are transmitted to the nucleus of cells, epigenetic changes in adipose stem cells from mice on high fat diets, chondrocyte signaling, pain, animal models and clinical trials for osteoarthritis management.

“These have been great meetings with excellent science and good networking opportunities,” Knudson said of past NC-CARA events.

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ECU leaders helping to reshape American medical education

On Sept. 22 and 23, leaders from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University are joining leaders from 10 other top medical schools at Vanderbilt University to discuss next steps in preparing medical students for the changing health care landscape.

The 11 medical schools were awarded $1 million each by the American Medical Association last fall to participate in their Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative to reshape the way medical students are educated in this country.

“There has been a universal call to shift the focus of medical education toward real-world practice and competency assessment,” said Robert M. Wah, M.D., president of the AMA, the national organization dedicated to empowering the nation’s physicians to continually provide safer, higher quality, and more efficient care to patients and communities.

“The AMA is proud to be leading the charge to answer this call,” Wah said. “Over the last year, we have made significant progress in transforming curriculum at these medical schools that will help close the gaps that currently exist between how medical students are trained and the way health care is delivered in this country now and in the future.”

Wah said the Brody School of Medicine was selected for the grant based on their bold and innovative ideas, including their new comprehensive Longitudinal Core Curriculum in patient safety, which was implemented in fall 2014 for all medical students. The project aims to foster inter-pro­fessional skills and prepare students to successfully lead multidisciplinary health care teams.

Brody also established a new academy to provide faculty development in patient safety, quality improvement and team-based care. And beginning in spring 2015, they will enroll 10 medical students per year in advanced course work and experiential activities that will earn them a Certificate in Healthcare Transformation and Leadership along with their M.D. degrees.

“More and more in medical education and higher education, it’s not about lecture-based education; it’s how do you design a more meaningful learning experience,” said Libby Baxley, M.D., senior associate dean for academic affairs at Brody.

Over the next four years, the AMA will continue to track the progress of the 11 medical schools’ collective work in order to identify and disseminate the best models for transformative educational change.

Other schools’ projects include a curriculum that gives students with prior health care experience an opportunity to progress through medical school based on individual competency, and courses that ensure medical students are trained on the use of electronic health records. Each school’s grant project can be tracked at http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/about-ama/strategic-focus/accelerating-change-in-medical-education.page.

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Golden Living Center donates to Brody School of Medicine

Hal Garland, executive director of the Golden Living Center, presents a check for $123,000 to Dr. Chelley Alexander, chair of the Department of Family Medicine at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, to support the medical school’s Teaching Nursing Home Project. Pictured (from left) are Dr. Kenneth Steinweg, director of the geriatric division for the Department of Family Medicine; Garland; Alexander; Maria Knupp, family nurse practitioner with the project; and Dr. Renee Banaszak, the project’s director. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Hal Garland, executive director of the Golden Living Center, presents a check for $123,000 to Dr. Chelley Alexander, chair of the Department of Family Medicine at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, to support the medical school’s Teaching Nursing Home Project. Pictured (from left) are Dr. Kenneth Steinweg, director of the geriatric division for the Department of Family Medicine; Garland; Alexander; Maria Knupp, family nurse practitioner with the project; and Dr. Renee Banaszak, the project’s director. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Golden Living Center has donated  $123,000 to the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University to support a nursing home teaching project.

Brody’s Department of Family Medicine provides primary medical care for the residents of the local Golden Living Center on MacGregor Downs Road. The 72,000-square-foot facility houses 152 residents.

Hal Garland, executive director of the local Golden Living Center, presented the donation to Dr. Chelley Alexander, chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Brody; Dr. Kenneth Steinweg, director of the geriatrics division for the Department of Family Medicine; Maria Knupp, family nurse practitioner with the project; and Dr. Renee Banaszak, the project’s director.

The money will be used to support the instruction of resident physicians and geriatric fellows, faculty salaries and teaching materials. Medical, pharmacy and physician assistant students also go to Golden Living Center for clinical learning.

This year is the 33rd the center has supported the teaching project with cumulative support totaling more than $2.5 million.

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