Summer medical education program deadline nears

College students and recent graduates aiming for a career as a physician have until March 4 to apply to ECU’s Summer Program for Future Doctors.

The eight-week summer program at the Brody School of Medicine, which begins May 16, is an intensive program that lets participants experience the demands of a medical school curriculum.

The only requirement is that students be North Carolina residents. Preference is given to minorities, disadvantaged and non-traditional students, but all students are encouraged to apply.

Students should have satisfactorily completed one year of biology, chemistry and physics. Organic chemistry is strongly encouraged. The program is tuition-free, though participants are responsible for living expenses. Eligible students will receive stipends.

Applications and more information are online at http://www.ecu.edu/ascc/SPFD.cfm.

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Family Medicine Center

By Doug Boyd

Patient Robert Fulghum, left, and Dr. Robert Newman talk in the ECU Family Medicine Center. The center recently received national recognition as a patient-centered medical home. (Photo by Doug Boyd)

The Family Medicine Center at ECU has gained recognition as a “patient-centered medical home” from a national organization.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance has identified the center as a medical practice where each patient has an ongoing relationship with a doctor who leads a team that takes responsibility for patient care and, when needed, arranges referrals for care with other doctors.

ECU achieved level III recognition, the highest possible.

“NCQA certification is a formal recognition that we have created a patient-centered medical home that allows for easy access for our patients, continuity with the same medical provider, (and) comprehensive care including hospital care and obstetrical care,” said Dr. Robert Newman, vice chair for clinical services for the ECU Department of Family Medicine. “We have also started to measure our clinical performance and patient-satisfaction scores against nationally established benchmarks.”

Patient Robert Fulghum, a retired microbiology faculty member at ECU and a patient of Newman’s, said he has recommended the Family Medicine Center to several people who wanted to establish care at a medical practice.

“They don’t just examine you and say, ‘Here, take these pills,’ and send you off,” said Fulghum, 81. “They allow you to participate in the decisions that are made.”

When referrals to specialists are needed, Family Medicine Center staff members assist with that and follow up. “However, I haven’t really felt the need to go to a specialist,” Fulghum said.

Faculty and staff members began working on the certification in February 2009 and submitted an application in April.

Numerous physician groups contributed to the nine standards for measuring patient-centered medical homes, such as access, communication, care management and referral tracking.

“The patient-centered medical home promises to improve health and health care,” said NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane. “The active, ongoing relationship between a patient and a physician in medical homes fosters an all-too-rare goal in care: staying healthy and preventing illness in the first place.”

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Cancer drug trials

A potential treatment for many ovarian, breast, cervical and other cancers has entered clinical testing.

The treatment, a collaboration between ImmunoGen and Sanofi-aventis, uses an antibody created by Dr. Anne Kellogg, an associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the Brody School of Medicine.

The antibody seeks out and attaches to cancer cells and serves as a delivery vehicle for ImmunoGen’s Targeted Antibody Payload technology to attack the cancer cells with a potent cell-killing agent. Once inside, the cell-killing agent activates and kills the tumor cell as it divides. The technology allows the use of precise amounts of powerful cancer-killing drugs while minimizing side effects.

Kellogg said she was happy the drug has made it this far.

“You always hope some of the work you do in your research lab will have some positive benefit for people,” Kellogg said. “There’s still a lot of years in terms of testing in patients.”

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