“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/
CHAPEL HILL – Lungs have the ability to live longer than other organs after a person dies. If the lungs are recovered from an organ donor in time, it may lead to transplant operations that could save thousands of lives.
With a $4.2 million National Institutes of Health grant, the UNC School of Medicine is breaking ground with a clinical trial that tests an innovative method of recovering healthy lungs from donors who suffer sudden death outside a hospital.
Dr. Thomas Egan, professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the UNC of Medicine, is leading the trial. Through research, he found the lungs’ unique ability to stay alive.
“The reason the lung lives for hours after people die is because the lung has a supply of oxygen in all of the tiny little air sacs in the airwaves,” Egan says. “The cell in those airwaves and air sacs live off oxygen in the lungs, and they don’t rely on blood flow in order to get oxygen.”
Other organs require oxygen to be present through blood circulation.
Only 1,800 lungs a year are transplanted from conventional, brain dead organ donors who have died in a hospital. And many of that number, only 25 percent are found to be suitable for transplant.
“There maybe upwards of 40,000 patients that might be candidates for lung transplants to help them breathe better and live longer in frankly a much more improved quality of life if there were enough lungs to transplant.”
Egan says there is a great need for healthy lungs.
“Lung disease is now the third-leading cause of deaths in the United States,” he says. “While it is far behind cancer and cardiovascular disease, there are close to 200,000 deaths every year from in-stage lung disease.”
The trial has two crucial parts. The first step is retrieving the lungs, departing from the normal donation process.
Currently, the organs of registered donors who die outside of hospitals are not used. This is where Egan says the difference can be made.
There is a one to two hour window for the lungs to be recovered after the donor has died.
If emergency workers determine that the patient cannot be resuscitated, the local organ recovery agency will step in to contact the next-of-kin for permission to participate in the clinical trial.
Once permission is granted, emergency workers will then pump a small amount of air into the lungs to preserve them during the transport to a hospital.
Part two of the trial begins once the lungs arrive at the hospital.
Inside a dome-shaped machine, Egan’s lab perfuses and ventilates the lungs with a special solution to determine suitability for transplantation. The liquid is met to flow like blood would inside the lungs.
When the lungs are found to be healthy, the organs will be transplanted to patients who have consented under FDA- and IRB-approved standards and practices.
The trial pools together the cooperation of organizations such as the emergency rooms of UNC and Duke Hospitals; Wake County EMS; and Carolina Donor Services, the regional organ procurement organization.
If the trial proves successful, Egan believes it could lead to revolutionizing the organ donation process in the United States.
“Other organs might be salvaged down the road if we can change the whole paradigm of what happens to individuals after death if they have indicated a desire to be an organ donor.”
Egan was recruited by the UNC School of Medicine to start the lung transplant program in 1989.http://chapelboro.com/news/health/lungs-unique-viability-unc-transplant-procedure-seeks-save-lives/
CHAPEL HILL – UNC Provost Jim Dean says University leaders are in the process of putting the final touches on this year’s budget.
“We’re on a fiscal year budget of July through June, but we can’t really do our budgeting until the legislature does their budgeting, and then the General Administration does their budget,” Dean says. “We’re downstream from that, so we’re getting close to the end of the budgeting.”
At its Aug. 9 meeting, the UNC System’s Board of Governors made it’s allocations for the 16 campuses, based on the North Carolina General Assembly’s two-year budget plan.
The legislature’s spending plan, which was approved in July, called for substantial cuts to the UNC System. The spending plan designated $115 million in permanent funding reductions to the System’s base operating budget.
State budget cuts also called for the elimination of all funding for the UNC School of Medicine. Five years ago, appropriations for the School of Medicine were about $46 million.
“We did better than we might have done but not quite so well as we would have hoped in certain areas,” Dean says. “We did end up with some budget cuts again. They are not so bad as we feared at one point.”
During four consecutive years of state budget cuts since the economic downturn, UNC campuses including Chapel Hill have faced significant reductions in state funding. Carolina has taken approximately $235 million in total state cuts since 2008, according to UNC’s website.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-budget-close-to-completion/