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

UNC-Chapel Hill announces $21M gift to support media and journalism, medicine and athletics

For immediate use

 

UNC-Chapel Hill announces $21M gift to support media and journalism, medicine and athletics

 

Largest-ever gift to School of Media and Journalism will fund new Curtis Media Center

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C. – Nov. 2, 2018) – Today the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced a $21.275 million gift from the Curtis Foundation, thanks to the generosity of Barbara and Don Curtis. The donation includes $10 million for the largest gift ever made to the UNC School of Media and Journalism, in part to build a new state-of-the-art media center to bring the forefront of the media world to Carolina students. Additional funding will create immersive extracurricular learning opportunities for students, and support the pursuit of service and excellence in both medicine and athletics.

 

“From his first days at Carolina, Don Curtis has dedicated his life to pioneering work in broadcast journalism,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “With the largest gift in the School of Media and Journalism’s history, the Curtis family is passing on his legacy to the next generation of journalists, creating spaces for innovation and collaboration among our students and faculty. Their generosity and commitment to Carolina, from athletics fields to the hospital and classrooms, is remarkable. This gift will keep us at the cutting edge.”

 

The gift to the School of Media and Journalism will support efforts to help students gain a foothold in a rapidly changing industry. Eight million dollars will fund the construction of the Curtis Media Center, a flexible space that brings together students and faculty in a collaborative environment around emerging technology. By eliminating both literal and figurative barriers in a state-of-the-art environment, the Curtis Media Center will challenge students to learn and practice their craft while working in teams. The adaptable teaching and production facilities will prepare students to lead the industry into a new era by immersing them in experiences to develop critical thinking, creativity and collaborative skills with the latest technology at their fingertips. The center will serve students and faculty from across campus as well as those in the School of Media and Journalism. Plans for the building will require approval from the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees prior to construction. The building is expected be completed within the next four years at a site yet to be finalized.

 

The remaining $2 million to the School of Media and Journalism expands the existing Don and Barbara Curtis Excellence Fund for Extracurricular Activities and establishes a new fund to support programs within the school. The Curtises started the extracurricular fund in 2003 to encourage and support learning experiences outside of the classroom without the worry of cost. In the 2017-18 academic year alone, the fund allowed 43 students to gain real-world, hands-on experience critical to thriving in their chosen industry.

 

“These gifts are as much for the state of North Carolina as for the University,” said Don Curtis. “For all my life, the University of North Carolina has been the primary driver of progress and change. As a result, North Carolina can hold its head high as a national leader. I can think of no better investment than in medical research and the media to ensure that this progress continues and to see that North Carolina can provide the proper leadership for the future.”

 

“The Curtis family’s long-running generosity and dedication to our school has created life-changing experiences for countless students by funding immersive learning activities outside of the classroom,” said Susan King, dean of the School of Media and Journalism. “This gift is visionary and transformational for our school and this campus. It speaks to our values of collaboration, innovation and transparency as a public institution with a responsibility to engage with issues and inform citizens.”

 

Three million dollars will support the ongoing work of the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Hospitals to improve the health and well-being of North Carolinians through patient care, education and research. The UNC Athletics department will also receive $3 million to support ventures to be determined at a later date. As part of the Curtis Foundation’s $21.275 million gift, $5.275 million will fund future endeavors to be determined at a later time.

 

“The Curtis Family is a generous and engaged partner of UNC Medicine, sharing our commitment to excellent clinical care, leading-edge research and training physicians who will serve in North Carolina and beyond,” said Dr. Bill Roper, dean of the UNC School of Medicine and CEO of the UNC Health Care System. “For many years, the Curtises have funded important initiatives at the UNC Children’s Hospital, the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and in cardiovascular medicine. Thank you, Don, Barbara and Donna. We are honored by your new investment in UNC medicine.”

 

“The Curtises have long been dedicated champions of Carolina Athletics – cheering on our students during competitions while also supporting them behind the scenes,’’ said UNC director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham. “Barbara, Don and Donna believe wholeheartedly in our mission to educate and inspire through athletics, and they, in turn, have inspired us with their generosity and commitment to our University. We appreciate their gift and their investment in the future of our broad-based program and our students.”

 

The Curtis Foundation’s gift supports the most ambitious university fundraising campaign in the Southeast and in Carolina history, For All Kind: the Campaign for Carolina. On Oct. 6, 2017, Carolina announced its goal to raise $4.25 billion by Dec. 31, 2022. The Campaign for Carolina secured $2.23 billion by the end of fiscal year 2018, exceeding half of its dollar goal ahead of schedule. The Campaign for Carolina is inspired by the Blueprint for Next, the University’s overall strategic plan built on two core strategies: “of the public, for the public,” and “innovation made fundamental.”

 

A record-breaking fiscal year 2018 raised $617 million in commitments, marking the first time Carolina has ever topped $600 million in commitments. The University exceeded fiscal year 2017’s $543.3 million by 14 percent.

 

Don Curtis of Raleigh, North Carolina, established The Curtis Foundation in 1979. A 1963 UNC alumnus and chairman and CEO of the Curtis Media Group, Don Curtis is a former member of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees and a 2005 recipient of the William Richardson Davie Award—the board’s highest honor recognizing extraordinary service to the University or society. Don also served as chair of the UNC General Alumni Association from 2011-2012. Together Don and Barbara Curtis are former members of the UNC Lineberger Board of Visitors and founded the UNC Children’s Hospital Radio-thon which has raised tens of millions of dollars since 1998. In 2006 Carolina renamed the auditorium in Memorial Hall as the Beasley-Curtis Auditorium to honor the Curtis’ contribution in renovating the dedicated space for the arts on campus.

 

Barbara Curtis is a member of The Medical Foundation of North Carolina Inc. board and the UNC Cardiovascular Board of Advisors. Barbara and daughter Donna McClatchey also serve as foundation trustees. Donna Curtis graduated from Carolina in 1993 from the School of Media and Journalism. She also serves on the Carolina Women’s Leadership Council.

 

– 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.

 

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

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

 

 

UNC-Chapel Hill researchers fight against current Ebola outbreak

For immediate use

 

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-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

 

 

New study finds climate change threatens marine protected areas

For immediate release

 

New study finds climate change threatens marine protected areas

 

Expected levels of ocean warming will transform marine ecosystems worldwide, beginning as early as 2050

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C.— May 7, 2018) – New research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and collaborators found that most marine life in marine protected areas will not be able to tolerate warming ocean temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Marine protected areas have been established as a haven to protect threatened marine life, like polar bears, penguins and coral reefs, from the effects of fishing and other activities like mineral and oil extraction. The study found that with continued “business-as-usual” emissions, the protections currently in place won’t matter, because by 2100, warming and reduced oxygen concentration will make marine protected areas uninhabitable by most species currently residing in those areas.

 

The study, published today in Nature Climate Change, predicts that under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 emissions scenario, better known as the “business as usual scenario,” marine protected areas will warm by 2.8 degrees Celsius (or 5 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100.

 

The study concludes that such rapid and extreme warming would devastate the species and ecosystems currently located in marine protected areas. This could lead to extinctions of some of the world’s most unique animals, loss of biodiversity, and changes in ocean food-webs. It could also have considerable negative impacts on the productivity of fisheries and on tourism revenue. Many of these marine species exist as small populations with low genetic diversity that are vulnerable to environmental change and unlikely to adapt to ocean warming.

 

The study also estimated the year in which marine protected areas in different ecoregions would cross critical thresholds beyond which most species wouldn’t be able to tolerate the change. For many areas in the tropics, this will happen as soon as the mid-21st century.

 

“With warming of this magnitude, we expect to lose many, if not most, animal species from marine protected areas by the turn of the century,” said John Bruno, lead author, marine ecologist, and biology professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill. “To avoid the worst outcomes, we need to immediately adopt an emission reduction scenario in which emissions peak within the next two decades and then decrease very significantly, replacing fossil fuels with cleaner energy sources like solar and wind.”

 

Key takeaways include:

 

  • There are 8,236 marine protected areas around the world, although they only cover about 4 percent of the surface of the ocean.
  • The projected warming of 2.8 degrees Celsius (or 5 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 would fundamentally disrupt the ecosystems currently located in marine protected areas.
  • Mean sea-surface temperatures within marine protected areas are projected to increase 0.034 degrees Celsius (or 0.061 degrees Fahrenheit) per year.
  • Marine protected areas in the Arctic and Antarctic are projected to warm especially quickly, threatening numerous marine mammals like polar bears and penguins.
  • The marine protected areas at the greatest risk include those in the Arctic and Antarctic, in the northwest Atlantic, and the newly designated no-take reserves off the northern Galápagos islands Darwin and Wolf.

 

“There has been a lot of talk about establishing marine reserves to buy time while we figure out how to confront climate change,” said Rich Aronson, ocean scientist at Florida Institute of Technology and a researcher on the study. “We’re out of time, and the fact is we already know what to do: We have to control greenhouse gas emissions.”

 

The research was conducted in collaboration with researchers at Florida Institute of Technology, Polar Bears International, University of Southampton, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Marine Conservation Institute, NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, University of Miami and the National Oceanography Centre.

 

Bruno is available for interviews. Please let us know if you’d like to arrange a time to learn more.

 

The photo below shows the projected warming per year (indicated by the color-coded bar on the right) of the world’s marine protected areas (indicated by the black dots).

 

 

-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 322,000 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 165 countries. More than 175,000 live in North Carolina.

 

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

UNC-Chapel Hill experts available to discuss vaping and new tobacco products

UNC-Chapel Hill experts available to discuss vaping and new tobacco products

 

A host of new tobacco products, including e-cigarettes like JUULs, have entered the market in recent years, bringing new public health concerns with them. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are studying the health and societal impacts of emerging tobacco products. UNC-Chapel Hill experts are available to discuss topics including e-cigarettes’ health impacts, their failure as smoking cessation tools, the differences in how smoking and vaping affect the body, and e-cigarette explosions and the resulting chemical burn injuries.

 

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

 

 

Dr. M. Bradley Drummond is an associate professor of medicine at UNC School of Medicine and the director of the Obstructive Lung Diseases Clinical and Translational Research Center. He can discuss the health consequences of these new tobacco products and how they vary from traditional cigarettes. He can also discuss how these products exacerbate other conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and other chronic lung diseases.

 

 

 

Dr. Adam Goldstein is a professor in the UNC department of family medicine, the director of tobacco intervention programs at UNC School of Medicine, and a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. He can discuss the potential drawbacks versus any potential benefit of using these products as smoking cessation tools and can share evidence-based strategies to stop smoking. He can also speak to trends in teen tobacco use.

 

 

 

 

Kurt Ribisl is a professor and chair of the department of health behavior at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and the program leader for Cancer Prevention and Control at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Ribisl specializes in tobacco policy and regulation and can speak to taxation, advertising and marketing of new tobacco products and recommendations for preventing youth access.   

 

 

 

 

Robert Tarran is an associate professor of cell biology and physiology at UNC School of Medicine and a member of UNC Marsico Lung Institute. He can discuss the science of vaping, including how e-cigarettes impact a person’s lungs, including their genes and what happens to the lung’s immune system. He can also speak to the varying toxic effects of different e-cigarette flavors. 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Felicia Williams is an assistant professor of surgery at UNC School of Medicine and her specialties include trauma and burn surgery. She can discuss e-cigarette explosions and resulting injuries, including the need for trauma centers to know about the unique chemical burns that result from e-cigarette explosions.

 

 

 

 

 

Rebecca Williams is a research associate at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is a leading expert on internet tobacco sales, age verification, technology and emerging tobacco products, including the wide variety of vaping devices available today. Her research has shown that online e-cigarette vendors routinely sold to minors, a finding that underscores the need for regulations requiring and enforcing age verification for the online sale of e-cigarettes. She can discuss the sales and marketing practices of websites that sell emerging tobacco products, and underage access to these online products.

 

 

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

UNC-Chapel Hill expert available to discuss E. coli romaine lettuce outbreak

UNC-Chapel Hill expert available to discuss E. coli romaine lettuce outbreak

 

Rachel Noble is a nationally renowned environmental microbiologist from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is available to discuss the current E. coli outbreak. She is a leading researcher in the development of rapid methods for testing E. coli in leafy green produce. She has a patented test that is currently being used by produce packers on the West Coast and it takes less than two hours to yield results (compared to most of the conventional tests that take at least 24 hours to yield results). She can discuss why speed in testing is essential to preventing contaminated produce from reaching consumers, while maintaining economic benefit. She can also discuss causes and pathogens associated with an E. coli outbreak, why people are at risk, and the changing regulatory frameworks for E. coli monitoring in produce.

 

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

 

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

UNC-Chapel Hill study finds genetic evidence that magnetic navigation guides loggerhead sea turtles home

UNC-Chapel Hill study finds genetic evidence that magnetic navigation guides loggerhead sea turtles home

 

Loggerhead sea turtles that nest on beaches with similar magnetic fields are genetically similar

 

New research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides valuable insight into the navigation and nesting behaviors of loggerhead sea turtles that could inform future conservation efforts. Loggerhead sea turtles that nest on beaches with similar magnetic fields are genetically similar to one another, according to a new study by UNC-Chapel Hill biologists Kenneth J. Lohmann and J. Roger Brothers. The study was published today in the journal Current Biology.

 

Key takeaways include:

 

  • Magnetic fields are the strongest predictor of genetic similarity among nesting loggerhead sea turtles, regardless of the geographic proximity or environmental traits of nesting beaches.
  • The findings support previous research from Lohmann and Brothers, which indicated that adult loggerhead sea turtles use magnetic fields to find their way back to the beach where they themselves hatched. The new research implies that sometimes the turtles mistakenly nest at a different beach with a similar magnetic field, even if that beach is geographically far away from the beach on which they hatched – like on the opposite coast of Florida.
  • Conservation efforts should consider the importance of a beach’s magnetic field for attracting loggerhead sea turtles. Sea walls, power lines and large beachfront buildings may alter the magnetic fields that turtles encounter.

 

“Loggerhead sea turtles are fascinating creatures that begin their lives by migrating alone across the Atlantic Ocean and back. Eventually they return to nest on the beach where they hatched – or else, as it turns out, on a beach with a very similar magnetic field,” said Kenneth Lohmann, professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill. “This is an important new insight into how sea turtles navigate during their long-distance migrations. It might have important applications for the conservation of sea turtles, as well as other migratory animals such as salmon, sharks and certain birds.”

 

Lohmann and Brothers are available for interviews. Please let us know if you’d like to arrange a time to learn more. The video below, raw b-roll footage and accompanying artwork are all available upon request.

 

To watch a video with more information on the study, view below or visit https://youtu.be/l-mxrQE3zuw.

 

 

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 322,000 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 165 countries. More than 175,000 live in North Carolina.

 

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

 

North Carolina Policy Collaboratory grants will support GenX research and other emerging environmental contaminants in North Carolina

For immediate use

North Carolina Policy Collaboratory grants will support GenX research and other emerging environmental contaminants in North Carolina

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C. – April 9, 2018) — The North Carolina Policy Collaboratory today announced $430,000 in grants for three research projects to address emerging contaminants in North Carolina, including GenX, a potentially toxic industrial compound that has been detected in the Cape Fear River.

 

“GenX was identified last summer as a potential dangerous contaminant in our state’s drinking water, and these projects will help us to better understand the scope of this issue and how it might be addressed,” said Al Segars, chair of the NC Policy Collaboratory Advisory Board and PNC Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and faculty director of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. “By funding research that addresses these kinds of timely environmental quality concerns, the Collaboratory is fulfilling its mission of connecting university research to policy in service to North Carolina citizens.”

 

The grants will support the following projects:

  • $300,000 to evaluate emerging contaminants in private wells in North Carolina. The grant will build on an existing study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and led by Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson, associate professor of environmental sciences and engineering at UNC Gillings School of Public Health. Researchers will test the performance of household water filters in removing lead, microbial contaminants, GenX and other perfluoroalkyl compounds. Gibson’s team will also conduct a cost-benefit analysis of interventions for private wells contaminated with lead, GenX and other contaminants.
  • $50,000 for a project led by Matthew Lockett, assistant professor of chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Marcey Waters, Glen H. Elder Jr. Distinguished Professor, to develop an easy-to-read, qualitative paper test that would indicate if GenX might be present in the water and if additional analysis is necessary. This project is a partnership between the Collaboratory and the UNC Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility.
  • $80,000 to prioritize research and identify ways to address data and monitoring needs for detection of contaminants across the state. The work will be carried out by a state-wide consortium of university researchers organized by the Collaboratory who are working to identify completed, ongoing and planned research projects on emerging contaminants, including GenX, in North Carolina. The Collaboratory research team will be co-led by Gibson and Detlef Knappe, professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at North Carolina State University, and is comprised of faculty members from East Carolina University, North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington and Duke University.

-Carolina-

About the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory

The Collaboratory was established in the summer of 2016 by the North Carolina General Assembly for the purposes of facilitating the dissemination of the policy and research expertise of the University of North Carolina for practical use by state and local government. The Collaboratory facilitates and funds research related to the environmental and economic components of the management of the natural resources within North Carolina and of new technologies for habitat, environmental, and water quality improvement. To date the Collaboratory has brought nearly $4 million in research dollars to the UNC System. More information about the Collaboratory can be found at:  https://collaboratory.unc.edu/

 

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 322,000 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 165 countries. More than 175,000 live in North Carolina.