University of North Carolina System names A. Wesley Burks, M.D. CEO of UNC Health Care and UNC-Chapel Hill Medical School Dean

        

 

News Release

Media contacts:
Audrey Smith, (919) 962-8596                                      Phil Bridges, (984) 974-1152
audrey.smith@unc.edu                                              phil.bridges@unchealth.unc.edu

 

University of North Carolina System names A. Wesley Burks, M.D.  CEO of UNC Health Care and

UNC-Chapel Hill Medical School Dean


Dr. Burks tapped to lead growth efforts in education, research, and clinical care

for North Carolina’s health system

 

(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.  – Dec. 14, 2018) ­– Dr. A. Wesley Burks, who has served as executive dean for the UNC School of Medicine and as a member of UNC Health Care’s senior leadership team, has been named CEO of UNC Health Care, Dean of the UNC School of Medicine, and Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs at UNC-Chapel Hill.

 

Burks succeeds Dr. Bill Roper who announced his retirement last May and was appointed in October to serve as interim president of the UNC System beginning in mid-January. He will begin his new role on Jan. 15.

Burks’ name was presented by President Margaret Spellings to the Board of Governors for a vote following unanimous votes by the UNC Health Care Board of Directors and the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees.

 

“Dr. Burks is the right person to lead UNC Health Care and UNC School of Medicine at a time of tremendous and unprecedented change in the health care industry,” said Spellings. “Having served as executive dean and member of UNC Health Care’s senior leadership team, he is uniquely positioned to immediately develop and execute a strategy that leads our health care system and School of Medicine into the future.”

 

“It is the highest honor to serve these amazing institutions as CEO and Dean,” said Burks. “I look forward to working with many people, especially our talented team, to develop and communicate a strategic vision and long-term goals for the institution, while strengthening our national and international standing. I am humbled and appreciative of the confidence placed in me by the Board of Governors, Board of Trustees and UNC Health Care Board of Directors.”

 

“No greater service can be rendered to the citizens of North Carolina than having the opportunity to receive quality, accessible and affordable health care. It is also our responsibility to teach the next generation of health care professionals while we continue our research that is changing the future of medicine. That is a huge responsibility, and having worked closely with Wesley for years I know he will lead the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health Care forward.” said UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “A world-renowned researcher who has dedicated his professional life to finding new cures for the most deadly diseases, Wesley embraces compassionate care outcomes that change the lives of patients and their families. Thanks to his focus on education, there are thousands of caring physicians and clinicians providing the best, affordable care across our state, nation and world.”

 

Dr. Burks has spent over 30 years taking care of patients, conducting research, helping to educate trainees, and leading institutions. He joined UNC in 2011 as physician-in-chief of the North Carolina Children’s Hospital and was named chair of the department of pediatrics in 2012. In 2015, he was named executive dean of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Prior to serving at UNC, Burks worked at Duke University Medical Center and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. He is a well-published and renowned researcher in the field of pediatric allergy and immunology.  Burks led a research team that was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine for the world’s first treatment for potentially fatal peanut allergies.

 

“I could not be more pleased at the appointment of Dr. Burks to lead our health care system and school of medicine,” stated Charlie Owen, chair of UNC Health Care Board of Directors. “Wesley is a tremendous leader and visionary with the perfect combination of business acumen, researcher and educator to advance our institutions.

 

Burks resides in Chapel Hill with his wife, Jan. They have three children and four grandchildren.

 

Photo of Burks:  http://news.unchealthcare.org/photo-library/leadership/wesley-burks/view

 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 74 bachelor’s, 104 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools including the College of Arts & Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s nearly 330,000 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, US Territories and 162 countries. Almost 178,000 live in North Carolina.

 

About UNC Health Care

UNC Health Care is an integrated health care system comprised of UNC Hospitals and its provider network, UNC Faculty Physicians, UNC Physicians Network, and the clinical patient care programs of the UNC School of Medicine. Additional hospital entities and health care systems include UNC REX Healthcare, Chatham Hospital, Johnston Health, Pardee Hospital, Caldwell UNC Memorial, Nash UNC Health Care, Wayne UNC Memorial, UNC Lenoir Health Care and UNC Rockingham Health Care.

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UNC-Chapel Hill experts available to discuss 2018-2019 flu topics

UNC-Chapel Hill experts available to discuss 2018-2019 flu topics

 

Last year’s influenza season was the worst in nearly a decade and it’s too soon to say how severe the 2018-2019 season will be. UNC-Chapel Hill infectious disease researchers are available to discuss a wide range of topics, including infection rates in North Carolina and the United States, tips for preventing the flu, at-risk populations, facts and myths about the flu vaccine, the need for a universal flu vaccine, and pediatric flu concerns.

 

If you’d like to speak with an expert, call (919) 445-8555 or email mediarelations@unc.edu.

 

 

Flu Basics

 

Dr. Emily Ciccone is an infectious diseases fellow in the UNC School of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases and a former pediatrics resident. She can discuss symptoms of the flu in children and adults as well as diagnostic testing for the flu and other viral respiratory illnesses.

 

 

 

Dr. Claire Farel is an assistant professor of medicine in the UNC School of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases and the medical director of the Infectious Diseases Clinic at N.C. Memorial Hospital. She can discuss symptoms of the flu in adults and ways to prevent the flu, including vaccination and proper hand hygiene.

 

 

 

Dr. David Weber is a professor of epidemiology in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and a professor of pediatrics and medicine in the UNC School of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases and Department of Pediatrics. He can discuss various clinical aspects and epidemiology of the flu, such as complications arising from infections, current rates of infection in North Carolina and the United States, and which age populations are at high risk of getting the flu and becoming severely ill.

 

 

Pediatric Flu

 

Dr. Martha Perry is a professor of pediatrics in the UNC School of Medicine. She can discuss pediatric flu concerns, including why children get sick more often than adults, why children who are sick with the flu may take longer than adults to recover and the importance of vaccinating children against the flu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flu Prevention and Behaviors

 

Dr. Allison Aiello is a professor of epidemiology and leads the social epidemiology program in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Aiello is currently a member of a working group of leading experts for The World Health Organization to help develop guidance on nonpharmaceutical public health measures for mitigating the impact of pandemic influenza. She can discuss methods for preventing the flu through behavior change and non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as hand washing, isolation, quarantine and school closings. She can also discuss technologies for tracking flu in the community setting and outbreaks.

 

 

Vaccination

 

Dr. Noel Brewer is a professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. He is a decision scientist whose research focuses on how people make risky health decisions. He can discuss the reasons why people don’t get vaccinated and interventions that effectively increase uptake.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Macary Marciniak is a clinical associate professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. She is an immunizing pharmacist and a national trainer for student pharmacists and pharmacists regarding vaccine administration. She can discuss myths and facts about flu vaccine, and flu vaccine provision in pharmacy settings. She can also discuss tips to prevent the flu.

 

 

 

Dr. Tim Sheahan is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health where he focuses on the development of therapeutics for emerging viruses like influenza, SARS and Middle East respiratory syndrome. He can discuss flu vaccine development and effectiveness. He can also discuss the need for a universal vaccine and antiviral drugs, and the current status of these drugs, including the new antiviral Xofluza.

 

 

 

P: (919) 445-8555  |  E: mediarelations@unc.edu

Blue Cross NC, UNC-Chapel Hill Collaborate to Expand Rural Primary Care

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Cross NC, UNC-Chapel Hill Collaborate to Expand Rural Primary Care

 

 Blue Cross NC to invest $800,000 in new UNC-Chapel Hill program that improves access to care, education and employment opportunities throughout Rockingham County  

 

(Durham, N.C. – Nov. 8, 2018) — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill today announced the UNC School of Medicine’s new Primary Care Rural Advancement Program to address a need for better access to healthcare in Rockingham County. Made possible by an $800,000 investment from Blue Cross NC, the program will increase patient-centered primary care and recruit more residents to enter health care professions in the county and the neighboring area.

 

Along with UNC Health Care’s purchase of the former Morehead Memorial Hospital (now UNC Rockingham Health Care) in Rockingham County last year, the program will help prepare the region to expand its ability to provide health care in the rural community.

 

“We want people to have access to high-quality primary care no matter where in North Carolina they call home,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, President and CEO of Blue Cross NC. “This investment will help make sure primary care physicians get the resources, education, and training they need to practice in rural communities.”

 

The North Carolina General Assembly is supporting the program with additional funding to augment Blue Cross NC’s investment. The 2016 Rockingham County Community Health Assessment Report states that the county has the lowest rate of primary care physicians per 10,000 residents at 4.7, compared to neighboring counties and to the state average of 7.6.[1] It can be challenging to work as a health care provider in rural communities, largely because of limited access to resources like specialized medical and social services. The Primary Care Rural Advancement Program will incorporate multidisciplinary opportunities for students pursuing medicine, nursing, pharmacy and other health professions to better prepare them for practicing in rural communities. The program will also support current Rockingham County providers as they strengthen primary care access, implementing care models that include both behavioral and physical health.

 

“Thanks to this generous gift from Blue Cross North Carolina, and support from the General Assembly, we will be able to enhance patient-centered primary care services in Rockingham County,” said Cristy Page, MD, MPH, Chair of UNC Family Medicine. “The funding will help us work with the community to better understand its health care needs, while developing a collaborative approach to meeting those needs with our local community partners. We aim to build a training pipeline for primary care and to work with practices to improve quality of care, through initiatives like making tele-behavioral health available in the community through the UNC Physician’s Network. We will continue to meet with key stakeholders in the design and implementation of these next steps, and we appreciate the opportunity to make a difference in Rockingham County.”

 

In January, the former Morehead Memorial Hospital was renamed UNC Rockingham Health Care, following its purchase by UNC Health Care. Since then, the hospital has expanded services such as oncology, added new medical providers and continues to look at ways to better serve residents of the county and surrounding area.

 

“I would like to thank Blue Cross North Carolina and UNC-Chapel Hill for joining the General Assembly in this significant investment in Rockingham County,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger. “Access to high-quality healthcare in our rural communities is a constant struggle, and this program will not only increase that access, but will also train and prepare future generations of healthcare workers, ensuring that access continues.”

 

The investment is part of Blue Cross NC’s larger commitment to contribute $50 million toward community health initiatives in 2018 and is partially funded through $40 million in tax savings generated through the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. At UNC-Chapel Hill, Blue Cross NC’s investment will support For All Kind: the Campaign for Carolina, the university’s historic $4.25 billion fundraising campaign. It is inspired by the Blueprint for Next, Carolina’s overall strategic framework built on two core strategies: “of the public, for the public,” and “innovation made fundamental.”

                                                           

About Blue Cross NC

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina improves the health and well-being of our customers and communities by providing innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.89 million members, including approximately 1 million served on behalf of other Blue Plans. Since 1933, we have worked to make North Carolina a better place to live through our support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. We have been recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute every year since 2012. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit Blue Cross online at bluecrossnc.com. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.

 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 74 bachelor’s, 104 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools including the College of Arts & Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s nearly 330,000 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, US Territories and 162 countries. Almost 178,000 live in North Carolina.

 

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University Communications: Carly Miller, (919) 445-8555, mediarelations@unc.edu

Office of University Development: Kim Elenez, (919) 962-1628, kelenez@email.unc.edu

 

[1] Rockingham County Community Health Assessment

Former patient donates $10 million to further blood cancer research at UNC Lineberger

Former patient donates $10 million to further blood cancer research at UNC Lineberger

 

The donor’s gift advances research of deadly leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma cancers

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C.— Oct. 29, 2018) – A former patient of the North Carolina Cancer Hospital and a two-time alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is showing his gratitude to the center that helped him heal. A $10 million gift from Etteinne “ET” and W. G. Champion “Champ” Mitchell of New Bern, North Carolina, will create a new fund supporting ground-breaking research in blood cancer at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, including lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma research.

 

“The Mitchells’ amazing generosity accelerates UNC Lineberger’s research to help thousands afflicted by blood cancer,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “Lineberger is working on a range of laboratory and clinical trials – which are already showing great promise – to break the code into a complex cancer that is challenging to cure. Inspired by Champ’s life-saving personal experience with our medical team, their support advances investigations into the underlying cellular mechanisms of blood cancer that can benefit thousands of people.”

 

Nearly every three minutes, one person in the United States is diagnosed with blood cancer. In 2015, Champ Mitchell was one of those individuals. Mitchell was treated for stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at North Carolina Cancer Hospital, the clinical home of UNC Lineberger. Dr. Thomas C. Shea, the John William Pope Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research, led a team of clinicians that developed a treatment approach that put Mitchell’s lymphoma into remission. The care he received at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital inspired the Mitchells to create the Champ and ET Mitchell Fund for Blood Cancer Research. This fund will accelerate research, ultimately improving the lives of future patients.

 

“Every day, 151 fellow North Carolinians learn they’re facing a daunting battle against a deadly disease. And I know from personal experience, it’s not a fight you can or should do alone,” said Champ Mitchell. “Between the support of my family and an innovative, caring team of physicians and researchers led by Dr. Shea at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital and UNC Lineberger, we fought my battle together. Today, my battle is won, but so many others need partners to fight with them. ET and I believe our gift can help the UNC Lineberger team bring all of us closer to a cure than ever before.”

 

The American Cancer Society estimates that blood cancers will cause more than 58,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2018 alone. The Mitchells’ gift will further current and future research conducted by Dr. Shea and other UNC Lineberger faculty and teams that translate fundamental knowledge into new avenues of therapy for one of the deadliest forms of cancer. For example, as co-director of UNC Lineberger’s Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program, Dr. Shea leads a research team that is studying how to reduce the risk of cancer relapse in patients following a bone or stem cell transplant.

 

UNC Lineberger is one of only a select few academic medical centers in the U.S. with the facilities, technology and personnel to develop, produce and deliver cellular immunotherapy. Cellular immunotherapy is a highly promising field of cancer research and care that involves genetically engineering a patient’s immune cells to recognize and fight the patient’s cancer.

 

Others on the UNC Lineberger team have already developed a robust portfolio of clinical trials focused on advancing cellular and other forms of immunotherapy for Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, acute lymphoblastic leukemias and multiple myeloma.

 

“This is an exceptionally generous and visionary gift from Champ and ET,” said Bill Roper, dean of the UNC School of Medicine and CEO of UNC Health Care. “Every day researchers across UNC are working together to make strides in developing new treatment options for patients fighting cancer. Thanks to the Mitchells’ leadership we will continue to accelerate our efforts to end cancers of the blood and ensure that North Carolinians have access to the most promising therapies available.”

 

“Champ and ET Mitchell have made an investment that will greatly advance our ability to conduct laboratory and clinical investigations into the underlying mechanisms that make blood cancers so challenging to cure,” said Dr. H. Shelton Earp, director of UNC Lineberger. “Our cellular immunotherapy studies have had notable success in treating some blood cancers, but these are a complex group of cancers that likely will require a number of treatment options – many of which have not yet been discovered. This gift will jump-start innovation and discovery.”

 

Champ Mitchell earned undergraduate and law degrees at UNC-Chapel Hill and is now a retired lawyer and business executive whose career included serving as CEO of Network Solutions. ET Mitchell, also retired, graduated from the University of the South and served two decades as a military intelligence officer.

 

The Mitchells’ gift supports For All Kind: the Campaign for Carolina. The University’s historic $4.25 billion fundraising campaign is inspired by the Blueprint for Next, Carolina’s overall strategic framework built on two core strategies: “of the public, for the public,” and “innovation made fundamental.”

 

-Carolina-

 

 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 74 bachelor’s, 104 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools including the College of Arts & Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s nearly 330,000 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, US Territories and 162 countries. Almost 178,000 live in North Carolina.

 

About the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

The University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill holds the distinction of being one of only 49 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the country, and it is the only public comprehensive cancer center in North Carolina. UNC Lineberger faculty conduct research that spans the spectrum from the laboratory to the bedside to the community with the goal of understanding the causes of cancer at the genetic and environmental levels, identifying approaches to improve the prevention and early detection of cancer, and translating scientific findings into pioneering and innovative treatments.

 

 

University Communications: Audrey Smith, (919) 445-8555, mediarelations@unc.edu

 

 

UNC-Chapel Hill and Deerfield Management announce the creation of Pinnacle Hill to accelerate the discovery of new medicines

              

 

 

UNC-Chapel Hill and Deerfield Management announce the creation of Pinnacle Hill to accelerate the discovery of new medicines

 

Deerfield Management commits up to $65 million to support the development of novel therapeutics at UNC-Chapel Hill

 

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C. and New York, N.Y. – October 22, 2018) – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Deerfield Management have entered into a partnership to create Pinnacle Hill, LLC., a company seeking to discover new medicines to address the significant unmet medical needs of our times. Deerfield has committed $65 million of targeted funding and to provide drug development expertise in support of promising new drug research across a wide range of therapeutic areas.

 

The partnership will be formally launched at an event hosted by the University and Deerfield Management on October 30 at 3:30 pm at the Carolina Club on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. (Event details are at the bottom of the release.)

 

“This is a very exciting new partnership between UNC-Chapel Hill and Deerfield Management. In creating a new company, Pinnacle Hill, we are bringing together the best of academia and industry to accelerate innovative drug research,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “By investing in our faculty’s early stage research, this partnership advances our commitment to improving the health and well-being of people around the world.”

 

Research and development conducted at Pinnacle Hill will be supported by funding, expert drug development guidance, experienced project management oversight, and business strategy.  These efforts will serve to improve and accelerate the product development process and allow founding scientists to concentrate on their research.

 

Pinnacle Hill will focus on drug research projects that are approved and directed by a joint steering committee comprised of members from UNC-Chapel Hill and Deerfield leadership teams. Each selected project has the potential to receive funding to support investigational new drug enabling studies. The inaugural UNC members of the joint committee will be:

– Terry Magnuson, UNC-Chapel Hill’s vice chancellor for research and the Sarah Graham Kenan professor of genetics

– Dr. Dhiren Thakker, distinguished professor and interim dean of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and interim director of the Eshelman Institute for Innovation

– Dr. Blossom Damania, the Boshamer Distinguished professor of microbiology and immunology and vice dean for research in the UNC School of Medicine

 

“UNC-Chapel Hill’s world-class scientists, research centers and institutes, including the Eshelman Institute for Innovation, have enabled a culture of innovation with a focus on the patient and novel discoveries. This will play a critical role in our collaboration to help solve problems, discover new technologies and hopefully save lives,” stated James Flynn, managing partner of Deerfield Management.

 

Projects selected for support through Pinnacle Hill will receive a complete development plan with funding to support further research across the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. UNC-Chapel Hill’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy and School of Medicine, as well as institutes like the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Eshelman Institute for Innovation have drug discovery teams and core resources to support the development of new therapies to treat a wide variety of unmet medical needs. Deerfield may make additional capital investments in successful projects. Profits from successful projects, if any, will be shared by Deerfield and UNC-Chapel Hill.

 

“UNC-Chapel Hill is home to some of the world’s most innovative and life-changing research,” said Robert Blouin, executive vice chancellor and provost of UNC-Chapel Hill. “The new partnership between UNC-Chapel Hill and Deerfield Management gives us an exciting opportunity to accelerate drug discovery research at the University and advance new therapies that have the potential to improve health in North Carolina and beyond.”

 

Oct. 12, 2018 marked the 225th anniversary of the University’s founding. Carolina has a rich tradition as a public research university, conducts more than $1 billion in research activity annually and is the eleventh largest U.S. university in research volume and annual expenditures. The collaboration between the University and Deerfield will provide crucial support to accelerate early-stage research that could improve human health worldwide.

 

Pinnacle Hill launch event

  • Begins at 3:30 p.m. on October 30 at The Carolina Club
  • 150 Stadium Drive, Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • Dignitaries and guest speakers at the ceremony will include:
    • Carol L. Folt, chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill
    • Robert Blouin, executive vice chancellor and provost of UNC-Chapel Hill
    • James Flynn, managing partner of Deerfield Management
    • Peter Steelman, partner of Deerfield Management
  • Remarks will be followed by a reception.

 

On-site contact: Audrey Smith: (919) 801-1936

 

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About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 74 bachelor’s, 104 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools including the College of Arts & Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s nearly 330,000 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, US Territories and 162 countries. Almost 178,000 live in North Carolina.

 

About Deerfield
Deerfield is an investment management firm committed to advancing healthcare through investment, information and philanthropy.

For more information, please visit www.deerfield.com

 

University Communications: Audrey Smith, (919) 445-8555, audrey.smith@unc.edu

Deerfield Management Company Communications: Karen Heidelberger, (212) 551-1600, karenh@deerfield.com

 

 

MAHEC, UNC-Chapel Hill Celebrate New Interprofessional Academic Health Center

 

 

 

 

 

MAHEC, UNC-Chapel Hill Celebrate New Interprofessional Academic Health Center  

 

UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC expands health science education in Western North Carolina

 

 

(Asheville, N.C. ­– October 17, 2018) — The Mountain Area Health Education Center and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will celebrate the construction of a new academic health center building on MAHEC’s Biltmore campus with a special ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 5:30 p.m. (see further details at the bottom).

 

UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC seeks to address health care worker shortages and improve education across a number of health science fields in Western North Carolina. The UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC building supports an innovative educational partnership between UNC-Chapel Hill and MAHEC and will house UNC School of Medicine’s Asheville campus; a Master of Public Health program led by UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health; MAHEC’s psychiatry residency program and psychiatry outpatient care; and health care research, education and community engagement initiatives at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

 

UNC-Chapel Hill and MAHEC have a shared commitment to address health care workforce shortages in North Carolina. All 16 Western North Carolina counties are considered primary care health professional shortage areas, or areas with too few providers to meet the health care needs of the population. By training health care professionals in Western North Carolina, and placing students in long-term internships across the region, UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC encourages more health providers to practice in Western North Carolina, an initiative that stands to make a significant impact on the region’s economy and access to health care.

 

“Our students and faculty are eager to address North Carolina’s health care needs, and the new programs based at MAHEC will be a significant step forward for improving access to quality interprofessional health care in Western North Carolina,” said Robert Blouin, executive vice chancellor and provost of UNC-Chapel Hill. “We are very appreciative of the generous support from the people of North Carolina that has made UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC a reality.”

 

The establishment of UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC was made possible by the people of North Carolina through 2015 and 2016 state appropriations totaling $8 million in nonrecurring funds for building construction and $18.6 million in recurring funds to support the development of UNC-Chapel Hill’s academic programs to train and expand the health care workforce in medically underserved Western North Carolina.

 

The three-story 37,000-square-foot building will be completed in spring 2019 and includes classrooms and incubator spaces that will bring together family medicine clinicians, pharmacists, public health professionals, researchers, residents, students, UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, and community health partners.

 

“The UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC building will be the hub for the regional campuses of the school of medicine and school of public health,” explained Jeff Heck, chief executive officer of MAHEC. “This academic health center and our strong regional partnerships will serve as a national model for rural health care transformation.”

 

UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC Special Ceremony

  • Begins at 5:30 p.m. on October 23 at the MAHEC Biltmore campus
  • 121 Hendersonville Road, Asheville, N.C. 28803
  • Dignitaries and guest speakers at the ceremony will include:
    • Robert Blouin, executive vice chancellor and provost of UNC-Chapel Hill
    • William Roper, dean of the UNC School of Medicine, vice chancellor for medical affairs and chief executive officer of UNC Health Care
    • Jeff Heck, chief executive officer of MAHEC
    • William Hathaway, MAHEC board member and senior vice president and chief medical officer of Mission Hospital
    • Stephen Kimmel, a Western North Carolinian and graduate of the UNC School of Medicine’s Asheville campus and MAHEC family medicine residency program who is now practicing in North Carolina’s Yancey and Mitchell counties
  • Remarks will be followed by guided tours of the recently completed MAHEC Simulation Center, a state-of-the-art medical and surgical training facility that supports health science education and health care professionals from across Western North Carolina

 

On-site contacts:

  • Michelle Morgan, MAHEC, 828-257-4442 or 828-777-5149
  • Jennifer Maurer, MAHEC, 828-257-4445 or 828-782-0142

 

 

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About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

UNC-Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 111 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties.

 

About the Mountain Area Health Education Center

MAHEC was established in 1974 and is a leader in healthcare, education and innovation. Located in Asheville, MAHEC serves a 16-county region in Western North Carolina. It is the largest Area Health Education Center in North Carolina, which evolved to address national and state concerns with the supply, retention and quality of health professionals. MAHEC’s mission is to train the next generation of healthcare professionals for Western North Carolina through quality healthcare, innovative education, and best practice models that can be replicated nationally.

 

UNC-Chapel Hill university communications: Audrey Smith, 919-445-8555, audrey.smith@unc.edu

MAHEC communications: Jennifer Maurer, 828-257-4445, jennifer.maurer@mahec.net

 

New study finds link between teenage drinking and high-grade prostate cancer later in life

New study finds link between teenage drinking and high-grade prostate cancer later in life

 

Study participants who drank heavily early in life were three times more likely

 to be diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C.— August 23, 2018) – A new study out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found a link between early-life alcohol consumption and aggressive, high-grade prostate cancer. The study also found that heavy cumulative alcohol consumption over the course of a man’s life had a similar association with this type of prostate cancer.

 

The research was published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research on August 23.

 

“There’s been relatively little progress in identifying risk factors for prostate cancer,” said Emma Allott, senior author for the study. “Other hormonally regulated cancers, like breast cancer, already have a known association with alcohol use. But the role that alcohol consumption may have in the development of prostate cancer, especially over the life course, isn’t as well understood, so it remains an important area of study.”

 

Allott led the research, along with her collaborators, while she was an assistant professor of nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill. Allott has since joined Queen’s University Belfast as a lecturer in molecular cancer epidemiology at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology.

 

The team of researchers evaluated survey data obtained from 650 men at the time of prostate biopsy. Men who reported consuming more than seven alcoholic drinks weekly as teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 were three times more likely to be diagnosed with high-grade prostate cancer compared with men who reported no alcohol use during these years. Men who had seven or more alcoholic beverages a week throughout each decade of life were also three times more likely to be diagnosed with high-grade prostate cancer at the time of biopsy.

 

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in U.S. men and the second leading cause of male cancer deaths. The prostate develops rapidly during puberty and, as a result, scientists have hypothesized that boys may be more susceptible to cancer-causing substances during their adolescent years.

 

“We think that prostate cancer develops over the course of many years or even decades, so studies like ours are working toward a clearer understanding not only of what the specific risk factors are, but how they may affect prostate biology at different stages of life,” said Allott.

 

Not all prostate cancers are high-grade, or the clinically significant, aggressive form of prostate cancer that grows quickly and can potentially lead to death. The researchers sought to investigate the potential relationship between early-life alcohol consumption and high-grade, prostate cancer, believing that it’s most important to identify risk factors for the aggressive form of the cancer. The researchers did not find an association between alcohol use and other less aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

 

Allott and her team evaluated survey data from a group of racially diverse men, ages 49-89 years, undergoing prostate biopsy at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center between 2007 and 2018. Men completed a survey to assess the average number of alcoholic beverages consumed weekly during each decade of life, categorizing this as zero, one to six, or seven or more drinks each week to determine age-specific and cumulative lifetime alcohol intake.

 

The research was limited by its reliance on men’s recall of their historic alcohol intake. This could have resulted in biased responses, although the majority of men reported their alcohol intake prior to knowing their biopsy results. Additional research is needed to determine the risk factors for prostate cancer.

 

Allott’s research collaborators included Jamie Michael, Amanda De Hoedt and Charlotte Bailey of Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Lauren Howard of Duke Cancer Institute, Sarah Markt and Lorelei Mucci of Harvard University, and Stephen Freedland of Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

 

The research was funded by the American Institute for Cancer Research, the Irish Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health.

 

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About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 111 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s nearly 330,000 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 149 countries. More than 169,000 live in North Carolina.

 

University Communications: Audrey Smith, (919) 445-8555, audrey.smith@unc.edu

 

UNC-Chapel Hill researchers fight against current Ebola outbreak

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UNC-Chapel Hill researchers fight against the current Ebola outbreak

 

New drugs needed to fight the current Ebola outbreak and other emerging diseases

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C. – July 5, 2018) – Research conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is aiding the fight against the deadly Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has been declared “largely contained” by the World Health Organization. Carolina researchers are providing on-the-ground care to Ebola patients, continuing to monitor Ebola survivors from the 2014 outbreak to learn more about the virus, and tested the experimental drug remdesivir that has been provided to the government of Congo for emergency treatment of patients infected with Ebola.

 

Ebola virus’ fatality rate for humans is around 50 percent. The world’s population is now highly mobile and the threat of diseases like Ebola quickly spreading across the globe is a major public health concern. A better understanding of emerging viruses and effective new antiviral drugs are both urgently needed to rapidly respond to Ebola outbreaks and other emerging pandemic threats.

 

Drs. William Fischer II and David Wohl of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine have been studying Ebola survivors in Liberia since 2014, establishing a cohort to learn more about treatment of acute infection, lingering clinical complications and viral persistence. Fischer is also the co-lead and Wohl is an investigator for an ongoing National Institutes of Health-funded study of remdesivir, a new experimental antiviral drug, in men who have evidence of Ebola virus in their semen.

 

Additionally, Carolina researchers were involved in testing remdesivir. Remdesivir is an investigative new drug created by Gilead Sciences Inc. and tested in the lab of Ralph Baric, professor of epidemiology in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill. It is thought to work by blocking a key enzyme that viruses need for replication. As part of a clinical development program, remdesivir has been given to more than 100 people to date.

 

Baric is a world-renowned coronavirus expert who has pioneered rapid response approaches for the study of emerging viruses and the development of therapeutics. Baric’s team provided its vast biological knowledge and specialized state-of-the-art Biosafety Level 3 laboratories required for testing remdesivir against highly pathogenic emerging coronaviruses, which Gilead needed to prepare this drug for clinical trial. Baric and his team discovered that remdesivir works in the lab against severe acute respiratory syndrome, Middle East respiratory syndrome and all coronaviruses they have tested against to date.

 

“Our collaboration with Gilead represents a new paradigm for developing robust rapid response solutions to control newly emerging diseases, like Ebola, MERS and other highly pathogenic viruses,” said Baric.

 

Remdesivir has not been proven safe or effective and is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration or any other regulatory body worldwide for commercial use. The FDA has approved it for compassionate use – treatment of seriously ill patients when no approved treatments are available. In May 2018, remdesivir was cleared by the health ministry of the Democratic Republic of Congo for use during the current Ebola outbreak in the country and Gilead provided 360 doses of the drug.

 

Carolina physicians have also provided on-the-ground patient care during Ebola outbreaks. Fischer has been involved in the response to each Ebola outbreak since 2014 and has been in Congo since mid-May, providing direct care to Ebola patients.

 

-Carolina-

 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 111 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 323,000 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 149 countries. More than 169,000 live in North Carolina.

 

University Communications: Audrey Smith, (919) 445-8555, mediarelations@unc.edu

 

UNC Health Care CEO, Medical School Dean Bill Roper Plans to Step Down in 2019

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UNC Health Care CEO, Medical School Dean Bill Roper Plans to Step Down in 2019


Dr. Roper led expansion efforts in education, research, and clinical care that improved health for all North Carolinians

 

 

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.  – May 31, 2018 ­– Dr. William L. Roper, who has helped transform UNC Health Care and the UNC School of Medicine into one of the nation’s top academic medical institutions, plans to step down as CEO and dean in May 2019.

 

“It has been a high honor to serve with so many talented and committed people. I know that our team is well equipped to continue taking on the challenges of a rapidly evolving medical and health care landscape,” Roper said. “Our mission, our patients and our providers are in good hands.”

 

Roper joined UNC-Chapel Hill as dean of the School of Public Health in 1997. In 2004, he became CEO of UNC Health Care, dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor for medical affairs. In those roles, he has expanded the reach of the health care system and medical school and helped improve the health of all North Carolinians. He’s also been a passionate advocate for health issues that affect residents of North Carolina at the state and federal levels.

 

“Dr. Roper has championed a broad range of innovative teaching, treatment and patient-care initiatives that have expanded and rippled across our state to provide patients with quality, accessible and affordable health care,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “Bill has provided a remarkable record of leadership, always with the people of North Carolina in his heart and on his mind.”

 

Under Roper’s leadership, UNC Health Care has expanded into a statewide system with more than a dozen hospitals, more than 30,000 employees and nearly $5 billion in annual revenue. His commitment to teaching and training the next generation of physicians has improved access across the state, especially in rural areas.

 

“Without question, Dr. Roper has a proven track record of service to our state, our people and to our future health,” said Dale Jenkins, chair of the UNC Health Care Board of Directors. “Throughout a long career of public service, he has made an impact on health care nationally, but most importantly, he has elevated health care to new levels here in North Carolina.”

 

At the UNC School of Medicine, total research funding has increased more than 50 percent since 2004 to $441 million last year, making it one of the preeminent medical research programs in the country. Roper has spearheaded efforts to expand its footprint across the state. He has cultivated relationships with other medical leaders and opened doors for medical students to train in Asheville, Charlotte and Wilmington. Today, the medical school trains more than 2,400 inter-professional health care providers and medical students annually, including many who choose to practice in our state after their education. Roper also has helped expand and add numerous medical, teaching and research facilities at UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC Health Care.

 

“Since Dr. Roper arrived at UNC, he has leveraged his expertise, experience and political acumen to guide this institution’s medical program and the state’s health care system into the 21st century,” said UNC System President Margaret Spellings. “His robust vision has ensured that we will be ready to meet the needs of our state’s aging and growing population.”

 

Roper, who turns 70 this summer, plans to step down on May 15, 2019. The University and UNC Health Care soon will begin a national search for his successor.

 

Photo of Roper: https://tinyurl.com/roper-william

 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 111 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 323,000 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 149 countries. More than 169,000 live in North Carolina.

 

About UNC Health Care

UNC Health Care is an integrated health care system comprised of UNC Hospitals and its provider network, UNC Faculty Physicians, UNC Physicians Network, the clinical patient care programs of the UNC School of Medicine. Additional hospital entities and health care systems include UNC REX Healthcare, Chatham Hospital, Johnston Health, Pardee Hospital, High Point Regional Health, Caldwell Memorial, Nash Health Care, Wayne Memorial, UNC Lenoir Health Care and UNC Rockingham Health Care.

 

University Communications contact: Audrey Smith, (919) 445-8555, audrey.smith@unc.edu

UNC Health Care contact: Alan Wolf, (919) 218-7103, alan.wolf@unchealth.unc.edu

 

UNC-Chapel Hill experts available to discuss hurricane season

UNC-Chapel Hill experts available to discuss hurricane season

 

Hurricane season officially began on June 1 and is now hitting peak period as Tropical Storm Gordon approaches the central U.S. Gulf Coast. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers and faculty are available to provide insight on storm surge and flooding, water quality, beach erosion and other storm-related issues.

 

Carolina experts are also available to discuss recovery-related research in the wake of hurricanes.

 

 

If you’d like to speak with an expert, call (919) 445-8555 or email mediarelations@unc.edu.

 

Norma Houston is a lecturer in public law and government at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government. Houston is an expert on the laws and authorities related to emergency management, including state of emergency declarations, and is often on the front lines with North Carolina public officials during hurricanes. She works closely with the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management year-round to help local governments prepare for natural disasters and she curates an emergency management website for North Carolina public officials. Houston is also an expert in local government law and procurement and, in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, has been helping local governments navigate federal procurement regulations around FEMA reimbursements. She can discuss what local governments are authorized to do during disasters, how they should prepare for scenarios like evacuations and debris removal, and federal regulations like FEMA contract requirements.

 

 

Rick Luettich is the director of UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City, North Carolina and the lead investigator of the Department of Homeland Security’s Coastal Resilience Center. He is a leading global expert on storm surge and is on the front lines when it comes to predicting a storm’s potential impact, as co-developer of ADCIRC, a system of computer programs used to predict storm surge and flooding. These prediction models are updated every few hours – the most recent model can be found here. Agencies and organizations including Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard and the emergency operations centers in several coastal states use Luettich’s model to assess risk, for design protection and to make decisions during storm events. He can discuss coastal risk, protection and forecasting storms.

 

Luettich’s research and ADCIRC model has also been used to design protection systems around New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and around New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy. Most recently ADCIRC provided extensive storm surge and flooding predictions for the major landfalling hurricanes during the 2017 hurricane season.

 

 

Rachel Noble is a distinguished professor at the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences. Her research focuses on public health issues surrounding water quality, including stormwater, drinking water and extreme conditions like those following a tropical storm or hurricane event. Her current work highlights the use of rapid tests to protect public health from waterborne diseases. She can discuss how to protect human health by better understanding pathogens and the risk they pose to the public, particularly after storm events.

 

Noble’s research and rapid method tests have been used on both coasts and the Great Lakes to protect public health. She is currently working with the Environmental Protection Agency on the implementation of methods to rapidly test E. coli at beaches. She is actively working with municipal wastewater agencies in California, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland on improved approaches to protect the public from contamination events in a more timely manner.

 

 

Hans Paerl is a distinguished professor of marine and environmental sciences at the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences. He is a water quality expert, focused on the harmful effects of toxic algae for both people and aquatic ecosystems. He can discuss the long-term impact of these blooms, including excessive nutrient inputs leading to algal blooms and their detrimental effects, including low oxygen (hypoxia), fish kills and toxicity of blooms, including digestive, liver and neurological impacts on human health.

 

Paerl’s recent study demonstrates that over the past 2 decades, tropical cyclones around the globe are increasing in both frequency and intensity. This has led to greater impacts to coastal watersheds including more fish kills, larger algal blooms, and larger low oxygen “dead zones.”

 

 

Carter Smith is a doctoral student at the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences. She studies the benefits of living shorelines, an alternative to seawalls, as a solution to combat erosion and property loss during storms. Living shorelines are both more cost effective than seawalls in the long-term and are ecologically more sustainable. She can discuss how homeowners and property managers can better protect coastal properties from hurricanes.

 

 

 

 

Gavin Smith is director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Coastal Resilience Center and a research professor in the department of city and regional planning at UNC-Chapel Hill. He leads the Hurricane Matthew Disaster Recovery and Resilience Initiative, working with federal, state and local leaders on addressing community needs after the 2016 storm. Following Hurricane Katrina, he worked in the Mississippi Office of the Governor and provided policy change recommendations to improve the delivery of post-disaster recovery and reconstruction activities. He also previously served as the assistant director for hazard mitigation for the state of North Carolina. He can discuss the disaster recovery and hazard mitigation process, particularly the role of states.

 

 

P: (919) 445-8555  |  E: mediarelations@unc.edu