Category Archives: Brody

Social determinants of obesity, diabetes addressed at ECU symposium

Does where you live or your level of education make you more prone to obesity and diabetes?

These and other social determinants of obesity and diabetes, which are disproportionally affecting eastern North Carolina, were addressed during the 14th annual Jean Mills Health Symposium at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU on Friday.

ECU student discusses her project

ECU senior kinesiology student Mackenzie Brown discusses her project during the 14th annual Jean Mills Health Symposium at ECU on Feb. 2. (Photos by Rob Spahr)

During the event, local, regional and national experts in obesity and diabetes, as well as community leaders and ECU faculty, staff and students, were challenged to address the social causes of the diseases.

The social factors discussed included cultural beliefs, gender roles, access to health care and patient-provider communications, economic stability, community infrastructure, educational attainment and role models.

Dr. Leandris Liburd speaks

Dr. Leandris Liburd, associate director for the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks during the symposium.

This year’s featured speaker was Dr. Leandris Liburd, associate director for the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Liburd is an expert on the social determinants of health and has been successful in identifying intervention strategies to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities.

“Our health is our greatest resource, it affects everything. … (But) it’s something that I think we typically take for granted until we don’t have it anymore. And then we get up and say ‘OK, now I need to pay attention,’” Liburd said. “In public health, we try to get to people in the front end of that. And while we can’t prevent everything, there are things that we can delay and that we can minimize.”

Liburd said physicians come with high levels of authority and respect, which they can lend to help sway public policies and make significant positive impacts in leveling out some of the social health discrepancies.

“We don’t expect that doctors will go out and take on all of these issues. But we do think that it’s reasonable, as a beginning, that they will lend their influence to the efforts that others are trying to put forth to help make them successful,” Liburd said. “We have to find our place in this and where we can contribute the most.”

The symposia are presented by the ECU College of Allied Health Sciences in collaboration with ECU’s Department of Public Health, the Brody School of Medicine and the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation.

“Over the past decade and a half, the Mills symposium has invited distinguished national and international experts to address the health and health care issues that affect minority populations, especially our communities right here in eastern North Carolina,” said Robert Orlikoff, dean of ECU’s College of Allied Health Sciences.

“This is not an academic seminar and this is not a town meeting,” Orlikoff added. “It’s a rare opportunity for us to come together, educate ourselves and work together to reach real and long-standing solutions.”

Jean Mills, who died from breast cancer in October 2000, was an ECU alumna with a passion for community health and health equity. Her brother, Amos T. Mills III, established the symposium in her honor.

 

-by Rob Spahr, University Communications

Health care quality improvement projects showcased at symposium

More than 150 people filled the auditorium of the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU on Wednesday to discuss, and reward, projects aimed at improving health care practices in eastern North Carolina and beyond.

The 2nd Annual Unified Quality Improvement Symposium – co-hosted by the Brody School of Medicine REACH Initiative and the Vidant Health Quality Office – featured more than 40 presenters. Their topics ranged from reducing rates of newborn hypothermia and improving HIV treatment adherence, to improving discharge processes in inpatient rehabilitation centers and limiting physician sleep interruptions.

Student presents project

Second-year ECU Brody School of Medicine student Noopur Doshi discusses her project during the 2nd Annual Unified Quality Improvement Symposium, which was held in the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU on Jan. 31, 2018. (Photos by Rob Spahr)

Second-year medical students Rebecca Jones and Reena Patel worked as nurses in neonatal intensive care and labor and delivery, respectively, prior to medical school.

For their symposium presentation, they discussed how they were working with a local OB-GYN to address the high infant mortality rate and maternal health disparities in Pitt County.

Students discuss their project

Omar Taha and Dr. Ahmed Hamed, left, discuss their project.

“We have a longitudinal program for mothers looking at having healthier pregnancies, reducing smoking, increasing breastfeeding and then also infant safety and CPR,” Jones said.

Patel said the program resulted in an overall decrease in anxiety for the mothers-to-be, as well as increased confidence in breastfeeding, CPR and choking rescue.

“We also compared longitudinal lifestyle changes and found that a number of people made significant beneficial lifestyle changes throughout the program,” Patel said. “As a result, we are implementing a portion of the program, the infant CPR portion, into Vidant hospital’s perinatal educational curriculum, as a medical student-run program.”

Student discusses his project

Second-year ECU Brody School of Medicine student Bennett Mack discusses his project.

This year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Julie Freischlag, chief executive officer of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, stressed the importance of health care professionals having integrity and being brave.

“Igniting success as health care providers, you need to be compassionate, you need to be innovative and bold,” Freischlag said. “Seize opportunities, take chances, be brave. You be the one to start the momentum, even if it’s controversial or uncomfortable.”

The following participants earned awards for podium presentations:

  • 1st Place: Diana Layne, a Vidant Medical Center nurse, for a presentation on a collaborative approach to reducing central line associated blood stream infections.
  • 2nd Place: Pooja Sarin, a third-year medical student, for a presentation on reducing the rates of newborn hypothermia by maintaining delivery temperatures of 77 F during cesarean sections.
  • 3rd Place: Kate Gitzinger, a Vidant Medical Center nurse, for the presentation “Interprofessional Education: A Powerful Tool for Improving Delivery Room Care and Competency.”

These participants received awards for their poster presentations, which were displayed in the ECHI lobby throughout the event:

  • 1st Place: Meera Patel, a second-year medical student, for a presentation on reducing the rate of contaminated blood draws coming from the ED to the microbiology laboratory at Vidant Medical Center.
  • 2nd Place: Taj Nasser, a fourth-year medical student, for the presentation “From Bits to Bytes to Reality: Reduction in Patients who Leave Without Treatment in the Emergency Department by using Computer Simulation to Redesign Nurse Staffing.”
  • 3rd Place: Sujitha Nandi, a clinical assistant professor of internal medicine at Brody, for a presentation on a challenge to discharge ECU general internal medicine inpatients before noon.

For more information about the REACH program visit http://www.ecu.edu/reach.

 

-by Rob Spahr, University Communications

ECU medical faculty member honored with international educator award

Dr. Jill Sutton

Dr. Jill Sutton

An ECU Brody School of Medicine OB-GYN professor has been recognized by an international organization for her outstanding performance as an educator.

Dr. Jill Sutton was recently awarded the 2018 William N.P. Herbert, MD, Promising Educator Award by the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics (APGO).

Herbert, a former APGO president, created this award in 2007 to recognize promising junior faculty who have demonstrated accomplishments in women’s health education.

“I am incredibly honored to have received this award,” said Sutton. “Teaching medical students how to care for women is work I absolutely love to do.”

Sutton earned her undergraduate degree in biology from Wake Forest University. She completed her medical degree and residency training at Brody before joining the faculty as a clinical assistant professor in 2010. Sutton has served as Brody’s clerkship director since 2014, overseeing the clinical education of students during their third and fourth years of medical school.

“Jill’s impact as an educator is locally noted by the awards she has received from her students,” said Dr. Elizabeth Baxley, senior associate dean for academic affairs. “She was recognized in May of 2017 by the third-year class with the Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. She is routinely sought out by students for teaching, mentoring, sharing stories from her life in medicine, and even to help recruit future Brody students.”

Sutton was also a recipient of Brody’s Clinical Teaching Faculty of the Year award in 2015, the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Class of 2016, and the Dr. Katherine Bray-Strickland Young Alumni Award in 2016 for her dedication to medical student education.

“Dr. Sutton’s passion and energy for educating medical students and other learners about women’s health is infectious,” said Dr. Cal Hayslip, chairman of Brody’s OB-GYN department. “She always comes to work with a bubbly positive attitude, and any time you are around her, she makes you smile. This award is well deserved.”

“Despite her hectic schedule, Dr. Sutton agreed to serve as my Albert Schweitzer Fellowship academic mentor,” said Rebecca Jones, a second-year medical student. “She has provided invaluable insight, constant encouragement and unwavering support. When our project has faced obstacles, she has always offered patient and thoughtful assistance despite her numerous obligations. Her concern for the community and commitment to service is evident in the sacrifices she makes to assist others.”

“Dr. Sutton is one of the most inspiring educators I have encountered in my time at Brody,” said Reena Patel, another second-year medical student. “She has a unique passion for sharing her knowledge, while also effectively supporting, motivating and communicating with her students. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to call her a mentor and educator.”

APGO represents academic OB-GYNs throughout the United States and Canada. It provides contemporary teaching tools to physician-educators and learning mechanisms for faculty, students and residents, with the ultimate goal of providing optimum health care to women. Sutton graduated from APGO’s Academic Scholars and Leaders Program in 2017.

 

-Angela Todd, University Communications

Student-designed brochure outlines dangers of e-cigs

Second-year Brody School of Medicine students Whitney Green and Radhika Kothadia have designed a brochure to educate middle and high school students about e-cigarettes.

The effort comes on the heels of new 2017 data from Monitoring the Future, funded by the National Institutes of Health, said Dr. Vivek Anand, clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at East Carolina University.Front of e-cigarette brochure

“During the past year, 19 percent of 12th grade, 16 percent of 10th grade and 8 percent of eighth-grade students, respectively, reported vaping nicotine,” Anand said. “These numbers can be higher for tobacco-growing areas like eastern North Carolina.”

Public health and tobacco control advocates are concerned about teen use of e-cigarettes because studies have shown that it goes hand in hand with the use of cigarettes and other drugs, he said. “And we still really don’t know how e-cigarettes affect the developing lungs and other organ systems.”

For several years, Anand has conducted research aimed at pinpointing the mechanisms behind smoking behavior.

Kothadia said she has become increasingly interested in patient education and preventative health care, and her interest in the effects of tobacco products began in high school when she volunteered with Tobacco Reality Unfiltered, an initiative of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Our goal was to educate people of all ages about the harmful effects of tobacco,” she said.

Kothadia and Green helped format and edit the educational brochure and are working with J.H. Rose High School to arrange presentations in health classes about e-cigarettes. At least 25,000 brochures will be printed and distributed through the ECU Psychiatry Outpatient Center, ECU Family Medicine Center, ECU pediatrics clinics, Vidant, RHA and PORT health clinics in New Bern, and other community clinics throughout February.

“I grew up with pretty powerful advertising from anti-tobacco campaigns in the early 2000s that targeted young people and revealed the truth about the harmful effects of cigarette smoke,” Green said. “Now the trend has shifted over to vaping, and I don’t think enough information is out there to show teenagers the association between vaping and tobacco or how it all affects their health.”

With as many as one in five high school students reporting the use of e-cigarettes, Anand said continued research and educational efforts about their effects are critical.

 

-by Jules Norwood, ECU News Services

Brody dean launches staff initiative

Brody School of Medicine Dean Mark Stacy. (contributed photo)

Brody School of Medicine Dean Mark Stacy. (contributed photo)

The dean of ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, Dr. Mark Stacy, is seeking suggestions from Brody employees about how to “build a better Brody,” and he’s setting aside $100,000 to put their best ideas into practice.

The Brody Staff Leadership Initiative seeks to tap into the knowledge, experience and creativity of the medical school’s employees to improve office efficiency, morale, the work environment and the overall culture at Brody, Stacy said.

“Those employees who are closest to a process, who work in a certain area on a daily basis, are the ones who can best identify how to make things work better,” said Stacy. “I want to empower those people to influence positive change. This is their chance to make a difference.”

All Brody SHRA and CSS staff are eligible to submit a proposal. While employees are encouraged to work in groups to strengthen their requests, proposals from individuals will also be considered.

The deadline for entries is Dec. 15, 2017.

All submissions will be reviewed by a representative group of Brody staff and the Dean’s Administrative Leadership Team. Winners will be announced at a ceremony and celebration event Jan. 10.

All requests – and any questions – should be submitted to Gary Vanderpool, executive associate vice chancellor for health sciences administration and finance, at vanderpoolg@ecu.edu.

For the proposal guidelines and template, visit www.ecu.edu/med/better.

 

-by Amy Ellis, University Communications

ECU Neurology confirmed as leader in MS care

ECU Physicians Neurology, a leading provider of care for people living with multiple sclerosis in eastern North Carolina, has been recognized as an official Partner in MS Care by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

This formal designation honors the practice’s commitment to providing exceptional MS care, and to working closely with the society to address the challenges of people affected by the disease. ECU first received the Partner in MS Care designation in 2013, and the renewal reflects the practice’s continued efforts to provide the highest quality care.

“This renewal of Partner in MS Care really is an extraordinary demonstration of the partnership that ECU has had with the National MS Society,” said Kristina Fransel, president of the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “We renew it to make sure you’re dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s, but also that we’re fulfilling our end of the bargain as a partner to you in delivering the best quality health care to people with multiple sclerosis, which is the highest priority for the National MS Society.”

ECU Physicians Neurology received a renewal of its Partner in MS Care designation from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Pictured from left are Kristina Fransel, president of the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society; Dr. Robert Frere, clinical associate professor, ECU Physicians Neurology; Lovie Powers, RN; and Paige Dalton, development and programs coordinator, Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

ECU Physicians Neurology received a renewal of its Partner in MS Care designation from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Pictured from left are Kristina Fransel, president of the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society; Dr. Robert Frere, clinical associate professor, ECU Physicians Neurology; Lovie Powers, RN; and Paige Dalton, development and programs coordinator, Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

Fransel recognized Dr. Robert Frere, medical director for ECU Physicians Neurology, for his efforts, which have resulted in doubling the number of patients with multiple sclerosis served by the practice. In addition to providing top-notch clinical care, she said, the Partner in MS Care designation recognizes the practice’s work in fundraising and advocacy for MS patients.

Joseph Hodges, clinical administrative manager for ECU Physicians Neurology, said the practice is committed to providing services across the continuum of care for patients with MS, having a medical director (Frere) with certification in treating patients with MS, and coordinating patient services with other providers including hospital services, urology and psychology.

MS is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system in which the body’s immune system incorrectly attacks healthy tissue in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves, disrupting the flow of information between the brain, spinal cord and other parts of the body.

Symptoms can range from relatively benign to disabling and include blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, memory and concentration problems, paralysis and blindness. It is estimated that more than 2.3 million people worldwide are affected by MS.

ECU Physicians Neurology is the largest and most comprehensive neurological medical practice in eastern North Carolina. Frere, who is board-certified in neurology and psychiatry, holds a specialty certification in neurophysiology.

The practice provides MS diagnosis, neuropsychological or cognitive evaluation and treatment, ongoing MS medical and symptom management, pain management, and patient and family education. The clinic also participates in MS clinical trials and research.

ECU Physicians Neurology is located at 2280 Hemby Lane in Greenville. For an appointment, call (252) 744-9400, or toll-free 1-800-775-4840. For more information about the practice visit ecu.edu/ecuphysicians.

 

-by Jules Norwood, ECU News Services

ECU Physicians enrolling patients in breast cancer treatment study

ECU Physicians, the clinical practice of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University (ECU), is enrolling patients in a nationwide clinical study designed to evaluate a potential new treatment option for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.

Called HER2CLIMB, the study will evaluate the medication tucatinib in combination with standard treatments for patients with locally advanced or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer, with or without brain metastases. Tucatinib is an oral medication that can be taken at home.

HER2-positive breast cancer is a type of breast cancer that tests positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). HER2 promotes the aggressive spread of cancer cells. The American Cancer Society estimates that 20 to 25 percent of the approximately 234,000 annual breast cancer diagnoses in the U.S. are HER2-positive.

ECU oncologist Dr. Mahvish Muzaffar (contributed photo)

ECU oncologist Dr. Mahvish Muzaffar (contributed photo)

“Patients who have been diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer and whose cancer has metastasized may benefit from treatment with HER2-targeted therapies,” said Eric P. Winer, M.D., chair of the HER2CLIMB International Steering Committee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Breast Oncology Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

“This investigational medication is designed to inhibit the activity of HER2 and is being evaluated in combination with other approved therapies. The HER2CLIMB trial will enroll patients with HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread to the brain, a patient population that is often excluded from clinical trials,” Winer added.

Historically, HER2-positive disease has been associated with shorter survival times as well as a higher risk of recurrence and brain metastases. Over the past two decades, the approvals of four other targeted treatments have led to slower progression of the disease and improved survival rates for HER2-positive patients.

Yet the need for new therapies remains, according to ECU oncologist Dr. Mahvish Muzaffar.

“Brody is dedicated to advancing new treatment options for advanced HER2-positive breast cancer through studies like HER2CLIMB,” Muzaffar said. “Despite treatment advances, there is still a significant need for new therapies that can impact the lives of patients with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer – including cancer that has spread to the brain – and that can be tolerated for long periods of time.”

The safety and effectiveness of tucatinib has not yet been established. As with other anti-cancer treatments, this investigational treatment may or may not provide benefit and may cause side effects.

To be eligible for this study, patients must have locally advanced or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer. In addition, patients must have already been treated with four common breast cancer therapies – taxane (Taxotereâ or Taxolâ), trastuzumab (Herceptinâ), pertuzumab (Perjetaâ), and T-DM1 (Kadcylaâ).

Enrolled participants will receive standard, approved treatments. In addition, they may also receive the investigational medication tucatinib.

To learn more about the HER2CLIMB study, including eligibility criteria, visit HER2CLIMB.com or call the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center at 252-744-1888.

ECU welcomes new physicians to Family Medicine Center

ECU Physicians has welcomed seven new physicians to their Family Medicine Center – four who are practicing comprehensive care, and three specializing in sports medicine.

In the area of comprehensive care, Drs. Kelley Haven and Audy Whitman are graduates of the Brody School of Medicine, and both completed residencies with ECU and Vidant Medical Center – Haven in obstetrics and gynecology and Whitman in family medicine.

Dr. Melissa Prado, a graduate of Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, completed her residency in family medicine at Lancaster General Health in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Uma Shah earned her medical degree at the American University of the Caribbean in St. Maarten before completing a family medicine residency at ECU and Vidant Medical Center.

From left, Drs. Uma Shah, Kelley Haven, Melissa Prado and Audy Whitman

From left, Drs. Uma Shah, Kelley Haven, Melissa Prado and Audy Whitman. (Contributed photos)

Haven, who is board-eligible in OB-GYN, is focused on comprehensive women’s care. Her clinical interests include contraception, adolescent health, ultrasound, birth centers and the midwifery model of care, complementary and alternative medicine.

As board-certified physicians in family medicine, Whitman, Prado and Shah are trained to treat patients of all ages and an array of common diseases, including asthma, allergy, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, depression and anxiety. Their services include immunizations, well-child exams, routine physicals and Medicare wellness exams.

Whitman is especially interested in holistic medicine, obesity, family planning, OB-GYN, office-based procedures and aesthetic medicine.

Prado’s clinical interests include group medical visits, OB-GYN, LGBT care, opiate addiction treatment and office-based procedures, while Shah’s focus is on preventive medicine and patient education.

All four physicians are accepting patients at ECU’s Family Medicine Center, 101 Heart Dr., Greenville. Appointments are available by calling 252-744-4611.

 

Sports medicine

Three new physicians have joined Dr. Justin Lee in the Family Medicine Center’s Sports Medicine Clinic.

Dr. Megan Ferderber comes to ECU from Pennsylvania State College of Medicine. She completed a family medicine residency and sports medicine fellowship at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center. Her clinical interests include concussion management and preventive medicine.

From left, Drs. Megan Ferderber, Justin Lee, Evan Lutz and Christopher Urbanek.

From left, Drs. Megan Ferderber, Justin Lee, Evan Lutz and Christopher Urbanek.

Dr. Evan Lutz is a graduate of the Brody School of Medicine who completed his family medicine residency and sports medicine fellowship at ECU and Vidant Medical Center. He has special interest in acute and overuse injuries in athletes, custom orthotics and ultrasound-guided injections.

Dr. Christoper Urbanek earned his osteopathic medical degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine before fulfilling a family medicine residency and sports medicine fellowship at University of Pittsburg Medical Center. Diagnostic and interventional ultrasonography and regenerative medicine are among his clinical interests.

As board-certified physicians in the field of sports medicine, Ferderber, Lutz and Urbanek are trained to meet the specialized performance needs of athletes, treat knee and shoulder injuries, tendonitis, stress fractures, concussions and low-back pain. Additionally, all are qualified to help patients who have illnesses such as asthma, arthritis, hypertension or diabetes meet their health and fitness goals.

The ECU Physicians sports medicine team also offers counseling on injury prevention, nutrition and supplements, increasing physical activity and improving fitness.

The sports medicine team is accepting patients at ECU’s Family Medicine Center, 101 Heart Dr., Greenville. Appointments are available by calling 252-744-4611.

 

Contact: Amy A. Ellis, Director of ECU Health Sciences Communication, ellisa14@ecu.edu

Brody students help transform medical education

Faculty at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine have made national news in recent months because of their contributions toward transforming medical education around high quality, team-based, patient-centered care. Brody’s innovative curriculum is what led the American Medical Association in 2013 to award the school $1 million to help lead their national Accelerating Change in Medical Education (ACME) initiative.

Now Brody students are getting noticed for doing their part too. Several recently traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to attend the AMA’s student-led ACME consortium, which brought together medical students from across the country to address key challenges in medical education.

Brody students presented several posters on topics ranging from second-year curriculum optimization to student-led implementation of tablet use in the clinical education setting.

Students attend the AMA conference. (Contributed photo)

Students attend the AMA conference. (Contributed photo)

“As one of the smaller schools represented at the conference, the imprint our students had on the conference was quite impressive,” said Dr. Jill Sutton, a clinical Ob/Gyn professor at ECU and the group’s faculty representative at the event.

Third-year student Zach Frabitore gave an oral presentation about developing and implementing interdisciplinary mock disaster exercises like the ones Brody students held the past two years. Frabitore said his presentation resonated with other students, and many approached him throughout the day to discuss it further.

“I think we left the conference having made a very clear and loud statement about our student body at Brody,” said Frabitore. “We were able to articulate the commitment to student leadership and intimate faculty-student relationships that encourage innovation at our home institution.

“Many students were [surprised] when we spoke about how we could pick up the phone and make personal calls to our faculty to discuss project ideas and receive advice from mentors who knew us on a personal level.”

“The school’s commitment to student participation in curricular governance and feedback that informs future decisions is a high value for Brody,” said Dr. Elizabeth Baxley, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. “The enhanced opportunities we have had in recent years to invest more substantially in student leadership development and to more formalize their contributions to educational and clinical scholarship are already paying off – for the students and the institution. Additionally, it has increased Brody’s national reputation and brought attention to the great work that has been happening here for many years. Everyone wins in that scenario!”

For more information about Brody’s involvement in the AMA initiative to transform medical education visit ecu.edu/cs-dhs/medicaleducation/reach/.

 

-by Angela Todd, University Communication

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