Anne Steptoe and Patrick O’Shea met at Duke’s School of Business. It wasn’t long until they connected over their shared passion for service, and MedServe was born.
“I think Patrick and I are both a little crazy and that’s how this whole thing has gotten off the ground,” Steptoe said.
Steptoe attends Brown University’s school of Medicine and O’Shea is a UNC School of Medicine student – both are still students at Duke as well. Their combined interests in primary care and public health made them a perfect team to tackle North Carolina’s shortage of primary care physicians.
“When Anne first introduced her idea that would really blossom and take off, it resonated with me so much because I had lived the experience that she was thinking about creating,” O’Shea said.
O’Shea’s experience in Teach for America, and Steptoe’s small town roots, helped them understand the health care discrepancies throughout communities in North Carolina. These experiences helped them develop a first-of-it’s-kind program.
“There are 13 human beings that have entrusted us and this program with the next two years of their lives to be a bridge and support for them in their own health care education process,” Steptoe said.
Over 80 applicants applied for the 13 positions in MedServe’s first year. The program uses a three-pronged business model – match, immerse and support. The program matches the fellows with medically under-served communities where they are immersed in a two-year, full-time program. The fellows are supported by medical professionals who serve as their mentors. Just one month into the program, Steptoe said they’re already looking ahead to next year.
“We ended up with a 15 percent acceptance rate and we could have easily taken over double the number students that we have that would have been excellent matches and great community servants to practices in North Carolina. And the fact that we couldn’t accommodate them this year motivates me to have more sites and more communities that we can impact next year.”
The program blends public health with primary care education to benefit both the students and the communities. After a two-week training program at UNC Medicine, the students head out to serve migrant workers, impoverished minorities and other under-served people, seeking to close the health care gaps – something that O’Shea said is not an easy task.
“If there was an easy solution, somebody would have done it 20 years ago and we wouldn’t have disparities with our people of color across the state or with our LGBTQ population,” O’Shea said. “MedServe isn’t a silver bullet, but I think the more people that we can expose to the potential of under-served primary care, our state will be better for it and most importantly, that one patient that comes in is going to be better for it.
Steptoe said while there’s no easy solution, the program is making steps to fix the health care discrepancies it reveals.
“There’s a huge part of this that’s peeling back the curtain into communities that often are separate geographically or otherwise from the big, urban institutions where most healthcare professionals get their training,” Steptoe said.
By placing young and enthusiastic medical students in under-served communities, Steptoe said they’re providing another way for students to spend their residency and gain clinical experience.
“Our students, compared to the average med school applicant, are more likely to be from a rural community or a medically under-served community. They’re more likely to be first generation college students and have other similar life experiences that give them a heart for working with populations that have overcome challenges the way that many of our fellows have overcome challenges.”
Steptoe said that one of the main goals of MedServe is to create a strong team to raise awareness in North Carolina of the problems many rural communities face.
“We’re trying to create an army of advocates who believe in health equity in every zip code in North Carolina.”
Steptoe said they will continue expanding the program to both medical students and local clinics. Next summer, 27 new students will be welcomed to the team as MedServe continues to address the lack of primary care physicians across North Carolina.http://chapelboro.com/featured/unc-and-duke-students-team-up-to-fix-nc-shortage-of-primary-care-physicians
Health care for new mothers is always complicated and can become even more so when their children must receive intensive care.
A new research team from the UNC Center for Maternal and Infant Health, entitled Care4Moms, will delve into the world of health care for mothers of medically fragile infants, a group about which there is limited research.
The lead investigator for the project is Alison Stuebe, MD, MSc. She described medically fragile infants as infants who were in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for three or more days after they were born. The mothers of these infants often face heightened health difficulties, she said, which can be difficult to manage while caring for an ill newborn.
“Our goal is to understand how we can better support mothers whose infants are critically ill immediately after birth,” said Stuebe. “Mothers of medically fragile infants must recover from birth while at the bedside of a critically ill newborn. [The challenges they face] are compounded by the fact that data suggest these women are more likely to have birthed by C-section and experienced complications and may have underlying chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.”
Care4Moms, which has received a grant of $900,000, plans to work to identify and address the needs of mothers with fragile or hospitalized infants. The research team will analyze around 7,000 mothers of infants born at NC Women’s Hospital, comparing the health care of mothers with medically fragile infants to that of mothers with healthy infants, and interviewing both mothers and health care providers about their perceived health care needs. The study is scheduled to last three years.
The UNC School of Medicine has led the way before in researching the needs of mothers. A previous study conducted at the university, led by Sarah Verbiest, DrPH, MSW, MPH, a professor in the Department for Maternal and Child Health, found that the health care challenges of new mothers with medically fragile infants are often related to their mental adjustment to motherhood. The group observed that the main health care needs of the women were family planning, coping with anxiety and depression, and disease management. The new mothers, when offered support in conjunction with clinical care for themselves and their baby, were very receptive. The study’s outcome bodes well for future clinical care for new mothers.
Care4Moms leads the nation in research of postpartum mothers of medically fragile infants. Read more about their mission here.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-launches-research-project-into-needs-of-new-mothers
Researchers at UNC are celebrating three $50,000 grants from the University’s School of Medicine. The money is dedicated to Zika research and will help scientists and doctors better understand how the disease is spread and how it affects brain cells.
Dr. Blossom Damania is the incoming vice dean for research at UNC’s School of Medicine. Her specialties in microbiology and immunology will help to guide a team of Zika researchers with the new funding.
“We really value our researchers and this is also why we awarded these grants. We want to jump-start and boost research already being conducted at UNC to fight against the Zika outbreak.”
The grants, called Emerging Challenges in Biomedical Research, will aid the study of Zika’s newly discovered link to Microcephaly – a rare neurological condition that causes infants to be born with unusually small heads, due to abnormal brain development.
This condition is a new addition to Zika, causing researchers to believe the virus is mutating.
“This is a different strain of the virus, or there’s something else. There’s a co-factor involved in why Zika is suddenly causing Microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome.”
Guillain-Barré syndrome is the other newly discovered disease linked to Zika. A rare nervous system sickness, it attacks the immune system and damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness or even paralysis.
Damania says the threats of these diseases are pushing researchers to work even harder.
“That’s just nature telling us that we don’t know as much as we should. So that’s why we do research to understand how things change – how we think that a virus that we thought had no disease can suddenly appear in the human population.”
About 75% of people infected by Zika don’t show any symptoms, Damania says, meaning that a critical issue is diagnosis. A lab test for Zika has not yet been developed, but Damania is hopeful that this new funding will help gain new insights into how the virus functions.
“What we hope is that this will position UNC investigators to get additional extramural awards from national institutes of health like the CDC and USAID that will increase our ability to mitigate the impact Zika has on human life.”
While the grants will help advance Zika research, Damania warns that progress is still slow.
“One thing to keep in mind is that this is evolving and that research is a slow process. Even though people are working fast, it might take us a while to develop effective vaccines.”
Although scientists have known about the Zika virus since 1947, Damania says it’s an ever-changing mystery that UNC researchers are committed to solving.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-researchers-awarded-grants-for-zika-research
“Is there a doctor in the house?”
If you watch enough movies and TV shows, sooner or later, you’ll hear someone shouting that question in the midst of a crowded room. It’s not the sort of line you hear in real life.
But medical emergencies do happen in public places, far away from hospitals. And when they do – even if we don’t quote the cliche – we immediately start hoping there’s a doctor around.
And oftentimes there is one.
But how often is that doctor actually willing to step in and act?
That’s a question that hasn’t been fully answered. There are reasons why doctors might hesitate to help – not the least of which is the danger of being held liable. (Some doctors have actually been sued for neligence while trying to help in an emergency.)
Many states (including North Carolina) have enacted “Good Samaritan” laws, designed to protect health care providers from liability if they step in to assist in medical emergencies.
But do those laws make doctors more likely to step in?
Until recently, we didn’t know. But now, a new UNC study has found that doctors are indeed (slightly) more likely to intervene if they’re protected by Good Samaritan laws. More encouragingly, though, the study also found that doctors are highly likely to intervene in an emergency even when they’re not protected.
The “North Carolina Good Samaritan Study” was conducted by UNC’s School of Medicine, UNC’s Department of Family Medicine, and the Gillings School of Global Public Health. For the first large-scale analysis of Good-Samaritan behavior by physicians since the 1960s, lead author William Garneau and a team of researchers surveyed a thousand doctors across the state.
The result: 80 percent of doctors reported that they’d had the opportunity to be a “Good Samaritan” at some point in their careers – and 93 percent of those said they did indeed step in to help. (What about the other 7 percent? Most of them said they didn’t step in because someone else had already taken charge of the situtation.)
And only 50 percent of doctors reported being knowledgeable about North Carolina’s Good Samaritan law. That suggests that more needs to be done to get the word out – but it also suggests that when there is, in fact, “a doctor in the house,” you can usually count on that doctor to help, even if state law doesn’t protect them from liability suits.
William Garneau is a fourth-year medical student at UNC; he discussed the study with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.
The study, co-authored by Gillings School professor Dean Harris, was published earlier this year in the journal BMJ Open.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/are-doctors-willing-to-be-good-samaritans-unc-study-says-yes
UNC researchers have discovered that more than half of UNC’s emergency-room patients that are 65 or older suffer from poor nutrition.
“We know from other work that the emergency department is a unique environment which takes care of patients with a higher prevalence of limited access to routine care, and also financial limitations, said UNC Assistant Professor Tim Platts-Mill of the Department of Emergency Medicine. “So we thought the emergency department would be an important place to look at malnutrition.”
Platts-Mills is the senior author of a study by researchers at the University of North Carolina published online in the Annals of Emergency Medicine this past Tuesday.
It shows that more than half of 138 patients 65 or older who showed up in emergency rooms in UNC Hospitals over an eight-week period were either malnourished, or at risk for malnutrition.
Platts-Mills said that while there is no data that shows how much of a role malnutrition plays in the reasons for those emergency room visits, he said it’s likely significant.
He said it could often be a factor, for instance, when seniors get dizzy, or fall down. And it can be linked to poor bone health.
“There are lots of sort of downstream effects of not getting appropriate nutrition,” he said.
There can also be some downstream effects of chronic health problems that can prevent seniors from eating as well as they should. One of these is poor dental health, which can make eating difficult.
“Medicare does not pay for dental care,” said Platts-Mills. “So, if older adults get dental care, they have to have some sort of supplemental insurance specific to dental care in order to get it, or they have to pay out-of-pocket.”
Platts-Mills said it may help emergency physicians to explore some of the underlying factors that may be contributing to medical emergencies of seniors.
He also said he’d like to see more social-work personnel in emergency departments to identify malnourished senior patients and link them with resources that can help.
Executive Director Stacey Yusko of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Meals on Wheels said that a lot of the seniors visited by her chapter struggle with depression, isolation, and loss of appetite. Many are not able to get out to stores to buy food.
And preparing food can be another difficult task.
“They might be able to pour a bowl of cereal in the morning, and get a meal from us at lunch, and then maybe have a little something for dinner” said Yusko. “But that’s a lot of work when you get older.”
She added that some older folks with memory issues can’t remember whether they’ve skipped an essential meal on some days. That’s what makes that lunchtime visit from Meals in Wheels so important.
Yusko said she’s not surprised that the study found a high percentage of malnutrition.
“We’re delivering to about 150 clients daily,” said Yusko. “And most of them, I would say, are on the normal-to-slender side. And when you look at the national weight picture in America, it’s not slender.”
Yusko said that her chapter of Meals on Wheels received some interesting evidence from CATCH of Central North Carolina last year.
CATCH stands for Care Transition to the Community and Home. It’s a program that strives to prevent re-admissions of seniors to emergency rooms within a month or so after the initial visit.
“And they said one of the things they found was that if there were guaranteed sources of food – of they knew someone was getting a meal everyday – that supported their health well enough until they recovered that they didn’t relapse.”
Meals on Wheels is not government-funded. It relies on fundraising. Yusko said her group is now working on its first-ever strategic plan, due to the rapidly increasing number of people it serves. The number has more than doubled from 65 to 150 over the past five years.
Yusko said she could use some volunteer drivers to help deliver meals to seniors, so if you’re interested, please call 919-942-2948.http://chapelboro.com/news/health/unc-study-half-seniors-emergency-rooms-poorly-nourished
The UNC School of Medicine has worked with nations across the globe in the largest genomic study to be published on any psychiatric disorder in order to identify more than 100 locations within the human genome that could connect to the development of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder that affects about 1 of every 100 individuals around the world. It typically manifests in the teens and early 20’s, and is diagnosed by paranoia, hallucinations, and altered thought processes. With that come heavy costs on individuals as well as society, financially and for quality of life. In the United States, more than $60 billion each year is spent on the treatment of schizophrenia.
UNC Distinguished Professor and the Director of the Center Psychiatric Genomics, Patrick Sullivan, told WCHL how he and his team developed the group that would go on to conduct this project.
“We began the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium about seven years ago, and the work that was presented in the paper of Nature represents at least seven years of work by over 300 people and incorporates information from over 15,000 people,” says Sullivan. “It’s been an enormous amount of work, a labor of love by dozens and dozens of individuals.”
As this was an international study, Sullivan says that there were a significant number of sources that worked to make this analysis such a success.
“The number of authors on the paper was 302,” says Sullivan. “These individuals come from at least 30 different countries, and over 100 different institutions. It is truly a worldwide operation.”
The discoveries made by the international team can be found through the online publication, Nature, and connect to several aspects in human biology that are common in the occurrence of schizophrenia. Though there has not been significant progress in drug development for it in over 60 years, these findings could mean new ways of treating this disorder.
“The advantage of this study is that it allows us an unprecedented and detailed look under the hood,” says Sullivan. “For the first time, we are starting to be able to dial into what schizophrenia is, from a fundamental and genetic basis. We’re very hopeful that the knowledge will be the kind of thing that leads to important breakthroughs and treatment for people with schizophrenia.”
Sullivan says that UNC played a vital role in how the study was conducting, analytically and in gathering volunteers to participate in the study.
“There were 10 plus investigators who were on that paper who the hard work of actually finding individuals who could be part of the study, individuals with schizophrenia as well as without,” says Sullivan. “Other people contributed to the analysis, and that’s a huge amount of work to actually get that done. We were fortunate to have a number of great people from UNC as part of that.”
As of now, Sullivan says there are medications available on the market for schizophrenia that help, but only manage the psychosis aspect of the disorder. This is partially due to the fact that not much has been uncovered yet about what biologically affects the disorder. From their previous study, Sullivan says that their group has found several new locations within human biological makeup for schizophrenia to exist, which will make it much easier to find how the disorder develops.
“The previous study pushed the number of confirmed loci for schizophrenia to 22, and this study obviously found a lot more,” says Sullivan. “It gives us a lot more detailed ideas of what’s really going wrong with schizophrenia. These are the things that with future work I think will get us dialed firmly into fundamental biology.”
Those involved in the published study analyzed 80,000 genetic samples from patients who had schizophrenia in addition to healthy volunteers. Through this, they found 108 places in the human genome connected to what could develop schizophrenia; 83 of said places had never been linked to the disorder before.
Sullivan says that this study is much better than the last because of the number of individuals involved and who specifically worked to make it happen.
“The first is the scale; it’s the largest study in the field,” says Sullivan. “The second thing is we’ve been extremely fortunate to be involved with and attracting recruits from absolutely top-notch analysts, statisticians, and computer scientists. To handle information of this scale requires similarly scaled efforts.”
Sullivan concludes that this study has opened whole new doors in not only treating schizophrenia more intelligently, but many other mental disorders that could have connections to schizophrenia.
“One of the things that we’re finding is some unexpected connections between schizophrenia and other disorders. “We have published work suggesting that there may be not a complete overlap, but certainly an important genetic overlap for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and probably autism. Our larger study is in progress, and we’re hoping that we’ll have more clarity over the next couple years.”http://chapelboro.com/news/unc-international-study-makes-breakthrough-schizophrenia
A student at the UNC School of Medicine has created an award-winning faith-based obesity prevention program to provide exercise and diet modification to better improve the health standards of the Durham-Chapel Hill community.
As a third-year medical student, wife and mother of three, Milele Bynum created the nutrition and walking program, “Walking in Faith,” as a part of the Albert Schweitzer fellowship.
Bynum told WCHL she was inspired by the challenges of obesity in her own life to begin this project to help those in the African-American community dealing with weight and health issues.
“It’s a problem that is really in the African-American community,” Bynum said. “Obesity has so many other health consequences from diabetes to cancer and heart disease and I’ve seen so many people in my family affected by the consequences of obesity.”
Bynum will receive the Community Outreach Award from the American Academy of Family Physicians, which is granted to family medicine residents and students who serve in community roles or projects to improve health care of populations.
“Walking in Faith” was started in conjunction with First Calvary Baptist Church in Durham. Almost 30 members of the church signed up for the eight-week program, and began nutritional sessions coupled with a weekday walking program. Bynum says the project produced positive results, as almost 70 percent of the participants reached the 150 minute weekly physical activity recommendation as well as reduced BMI and blood pressures.
With all participants identifying at the program’s start as overweight or obese, they have now developed a Healthy Eating Policy through the church’s Health and Wellness Ministry. Bynum and First Calvary have plans to expand this program to other communities by creating a curriculum through the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Bynum has brought the fight against obesity into her own home, teaching her children the importance of physical activity and adequate water-intake.
“Being a mother of three, I saw the importance of getting my children involved,” Bynum said. “Sometimes they didn’t want to come (workout), but they would come and walk with us every time we went and I thought that was important because if they see you doing it as a parent, then they’ll see that it is important.”
When trying to losing weight, Bynum reminds those who dare to make the lifestyle change to “celebrate small gains as they lead to big rewards.”
“I’ve really gained that it’s not easy, it’s something I’ve been struggling with my entire life but understand you don’t have to go out and run five miles a day. Just do anything to increase physical activity 15 minutes a day whenever it can be.”http://chapelboro.com/news/health/unc-medical-student-creates-nutrition-project
Are you thinking about buying a home? Wondering how you can afford it?
Chatham Habitat for Humanity and EmPOWERment are co-hosting a two-part Home Buyer’s Education Workshop in Pittsboro, on Thursday, March 6 and Thursday, March 13 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. You’ll learn tips for shopping for homes and mortgages, how to financially prepare, and how to maintain your home after you’ve bought it.
The workshop takes place at 467 West Street in Pittsboro. It’s free and open to the public; dinner, door prizes and child care will be provided. To RSVP, contact Amanda Stancil at EmPOWERment by calling 967-8779, or Anna Schmalz Rodriguez at Chatham Habitat by calling 542-0794.
Congratulations to Casey Rimland, a medical and doctoral student in the UNC School of Medicine who was recently named as a Gates Cambridge Scholar.
Created with a donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship provides students with a three-year full scholarship to study at Cambridge University in England. Between 80 and 100 Gates Scholarships are awarded annually; Rimland is the second honoree from UNC.
Casey Rimland is originally from Charlotte and graduated from UNC-Charlotte in 2011. She’s also a thyroid cancer survivor, having been diagnosed in her first year of medical school.
To compensate for all the snow days, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board has updated the district’s class schedule for the rest of the school year.
There were three remaining days on the district’s calendar that were set aside as delayed-opening days, but all three have now been changed to regular school days. Those three days are March 13, April 10 and May 8 – all originally delayed opening, but now functioning as regular, full school days. Students should report to school at the regular time.
Congratulations to the AVID students from Smith Middle School, winners of this year’s sixth annual Black History Knowledge Bowl!
The event is sponsored every year by the Mu Omicron Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. It’s a competition between students at Culbreth, McDougle and Smith Middle Schools who participate in the AVID program (Advancement Via Individual Determination). This year’s Knowledge Bowl took place at Culbreth Middle School on February 22; Smith took first and Culbreth took second.
Results are in for the Town of Chapel Hill’s Community Survey, and the numbers indicate that—for the most part—residents are extremely happy with the town’s services.
More than 90 percent of residents who responded say they’re satisfied with the town’s fire department, library, and trash collection services; more than 80 percent say they’re satisfied with Chapel Hill’s park maintenance and police department. Those numbers are “well above regional and national benchmarks,” according to a release from the Town.
On the down side, residents said they were most concerned with traffic congestion and “how well the Town is preparing for the future,” and also said the Town could do a better job providing affordable housing and “access to quality shopping.”
You can check out the full results at TownOfChapelHill.org/survey.
It’s tax season—and if you need tax forms, the Orange County Public Library is offering select forms for free. Those forms include the 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, Schedule A, Schedule B and Schedule SE.
In addition, the Orange County Department on Aging is offering its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program—VITA for short—which provides free income tax preparation for qualifying individuals with low- to middle-incomes, regardless of age or county of residence.
For more information or to find out if you qualify, visit OrangeCountyNC.gov/aging/VITA.asp.
UNC has received a grant of more than $40 million from the National Institutes of Health, to fund a global clinical trials unit working to treat and prevent the spread of HIV.
The grant will fund five clinical research sites through the year 2021. Three of those sites are located in North Carolina; the other two are located in Africa, in Malawi and Zambia.
UNC received $430 million in external funding for HIV research between 2008 and 2012. The university is ranked as one of the top 10 programs in America for HIV/AIDS research.
ORANGE COUNTY – The Carrboro Police Department is inviting you to come have “Coffee with a Cop!”
“Coffee with a Cop” is a chance for community members to connect with police officers, ask questions and learn more about the department. It’s part of a national initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, to break down barriers between police departments and community members—“one cup of coffee at a time.”
“Coffee with a Cop” will take place on Friday, January 31, beginning at 8:00 a.m. at the Looking Glass Café on West Main Street. Everyone’s invited to attend.
St. Thomas More School is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014 with a year of festivities—beginning with a Golden Jubilee Celebration on Friday, January 31. Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford—a St. Thomas More alum—will serve as guest speaker at the event, which begins at 7:00 p.m. at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, just off Fordham Boulevard at 940 Carmichael Street.
The Orange County Department on Aging is inviting you to help them celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Central Orange Senior Center, which opened five years ago on January 29, 2009.
The free event will take place on Friday, January 31, at 10:00 a.m. at the Central Orange Senior Center, located at 103 Meadowland Drive in Hillsborough. There will be food and music, plus a special performance by the Prime Time Players senior actors group.
The Orange County Public Library is hosting a free wellness workshop called “Make It Stick!” on Wednesday, January 29. Local wellness coach Marit Weikel will talk about how to change your habits to live healthier—and how to make those changes last.
The class will run from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the main library in Hillsborough. Everyone is welcome.
The Friends of the Downtown is holding its monthly meeting on Thursday, January 30, at 9:00 a.m. on the second floor of the Franklin Hotel. It’s free and open to the public. Local architect Phil Szostak will be the featured speaker; he designed the DPAC in downtown Durham and he’s currently working on the Carrboro ArtsCenter.
The Orange County 4-H is inviting everyone to a Community Forum on Thursday, January 30. The forum is designed to identify the needs of local kids and teens, and 4-H officials will use data from the forum to develop programs for kids ranging from 5-19 years old.
The Community Forum will take place at 6:00 p.m. in the Orange County Center, located at 306 E. Revere Road in Hillsborough. Dinner will be served.
To RSVP, visit this News Around Town page on our website, Chapelboro.com.
<…call Sheronda Witter at 919-245-2057.>
A study out of the UNC School of Medicine last week is contributing to a greater understanding of schizophrenia. UNC genetics and psychiatry professor Dr. Patrick Sullivan co-authored the study, which uncovered evidence that schizophrenia arises from the combined effects of certain minute mutations distributed across many genes.
The study was published in this week’s issue of Nature.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation is providing the North Carolina Partnership for Children with a three-year, $3 million grant to expand a program called Shape NC.
Shape NC is an early childhood initiative designed to increase the number of children who start kindergarten at a healthy weight, by promoting physical activity and good eating practices. Shape NC is already being implemented in 19 child care centers across the state; the grant will enable the program to expand to another 240.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-town/anniversaries-wellness-coffee-cop
“I’ve been doing this since the very beginning,” Cohen says. “I came to Chapel Hill in 1980, and the first cases of HIV in Chapel Hill were in 1981. We had a fairly large epidemic of HIV in North Carolina that the health care providers and the University helped to manage.”
Cohen is UNC’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Global Health and director of the Center for Infectious Diseases.
The North Carolina Award is the state’s highest civilian award and was given to five other people along with Cohen. This came one day after Dean Smith was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest national civilian honor.
Cohen is an infectious disease specialist and says he works with a large group of people across the nation.
“Working to understand the transmission of the virus HIV, and, most importantly, developing strategies to prevent the transmission of HIV,” Cohen says.
Cohen says the study of HIV/AIDS has come a long way in his more than three decades of work on the disease.
“There’s no organism better studied than HIV, and there’s incredible discoveries along the way that have taken this once universally-fatal infection, and, now-a-days, this infection is detected early and (if) people receive the proper treatment, they live a normal, healthy lifespan,” Cohen says. “So it’s a quite remarkable journey over 33 years.”
Cohen was presented the North Carolina Award by Governor Pat McCrory Thursday in Durham. The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources administers the awards.
Cohen received the award in the science division. He was joined this year by Asheville’s John E. Cram in fine arts, Davidson College graduate John M. H. Hart, Jr. in literature, and legislator Phillip J. Kirk Jr., education administrator John Harding Lucas, and internationally acclaimed linguist Walt Wolfram in public service.http://chapelboro.com/news/health/unc-professor-awarded-highest-state-civillian-honor