UNC’s Jaycee Burn Center Awarded FEMA Research Grant

The North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center is receiving a federal grant.

The burn center in the UNC School of Medicine’s Surgery Department has been awarded the $295,298 Fire Prevention and Safety Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The grant was announced Wednesday by North Carolina’s Fourth District United States Congressman David Price, who is the former chairman and current senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Subcommittee.

Price released a statement after announcing the award.

“I am thrilled that the Jaycee Burn Center has received this funding, which will help prevent dangerous house fires and ensure that first responders have the resources and training they need to effectively treat burn victims. The research conducted by the Jaycee Center – especially their work with low-income and other vulnerable populations – provides a great public health service to our state’s residents and can save lives.”

Chair of the UNC Medical Center’s Department of Surgery Dr. Melina Kibbe said the school was honored to receive the award.

“As Chair of a leading public academic department of surgery, I could not be more proud of the work of our people in the Burn Center. Burn prevention and education remains a critically important issue for our state and the nation and so I am very grateful and appreciative for this recognition and grant award from FEMA.”

The burn center is described as “the nation’s leading center for burn research,” in a release announcing the grant. The federal funding will go toward “identifying at-risk populations who could benefit from fire safety education and early warning devices and conducting first responder trainings to improve pre-hospital treatment of burn victims.”

Burn center medical director Dr. Bruce Cairs, who is also chair of the faculty at UNC, and burn outreach director Earnest Grant will direct that research.


UNC Pharmacy Dean Receives National Award

Dean of UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Robert Blouin received high honor for his work within the field.

Blouin was named the 2016 Parker Medalist presented as the College’s Paul F. Parker Medal for Distinguished Service to the Profession of Pharmacy.

Under Blouin’s leadership, the school has been recognized as the number one-rated pharmacy school in the country and as an international leader of clinical pharmacy practice, education and research.

The Parker Medal has recognized many professionals for their outstanding contributions to improve patient outcomes, advance innovative practices and much more.

Blouin has received many awards in addition to the Parker Medal, including the UNC General Alumni Association Faculty Service Award and the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy Hall of Distinguished Alumni Award, just to name a few.

Blouin will be presented the award during the Opening General Session at the 2016 ACCP Annual Meeting in Hollywood, Florida on October 23.


Failed UNC Leadership and the ANOA

The UNC response to the amended notice of allegations by the NCAA is, sadly, a missed opportunity to demonstrate leadership against the corrupt quagmire of Big Time intercollegiate sports. In announcing the release of its response, the university unconvincingly and patronizingly claimed that “the question is whether the matters raised by the allegations meet the jurisdictional, procedural and substantive requirements of the NCAA constitution and bylaws—rules that govern athletics, not academic quality and oversight.”

The UNC mission is “to serve as a center for scholarship, research, and creativity.” As UNC’s numerous investigations and initiatives attest, Big Time sports undermines that mission. Instead of questioning the legitimacy of the NCAA to concern itself with academic quality and oversight, here’s what I hope UNC would say to the NCAA about athletics.

“Twenty years of fraudulent classes involving 3,000 students, disproportionately athletes, struck at the heart of our mission.  We have undertaken wide-ranging investigations, implemented reforms, and held a few individuals accountable.  Due to all of the compromises inherent in Big Time sports, we doubt, however, that the NCAA is capable of administering the appropriate penalties. Because athletics is ultimately about wins and losses, UNC will impose on itself the only meaningful penalty. We will forfeit all games involving any athlete who was enrolled in any of these fraudulent classes.  In order to be perfectly clear that academic cheating in the sports enterprise is unacceptable, we are using the definitive sports measure–wins and losses—not only to hold ourselves accountable, but to model—or teach, if you will—the appropriate action that the NCAA and other universities should take.”


— Lew Margolis.



UNC Researchers Attempt to Tackle Peanut Allergy

Peanut and tree nut allergies affect approximately three million people in the United States, but UNC School of Medicine researchers might have discovered a way to cure those allergies.

A new study found that nearly 80 percent of peanut-allergic preschool children were successfully treated with peanut oral immunotherapy or OIT.

This study is the first to specifically target children younger than three years old. Previous research suggested that younger children may react better to OIT than older peanut-allergic people.

“The results of this trial are really the first evidence that seem to suggest that, in fact, that’s true that the best outcome for this type of treatment is to start it right after a patient is diagnosed, typically in the preschool years,” said Brian P. Vickery, lead investigator of the trial and clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Vickery considers the findings to be a big step forward. He says that finding young children to participate was an initial concern of his when the study first began in 2008, but that the community showed overwhelming support for the research to the point that they even had to stop recruitment and turn some families away.

“The families that support our research are just amazing. They come from all over the state and are really the true pioneers in getting this done,” Vickery said.

The initial allergic reaction to peanuts commonly occurs within the first year or two of life, and the condition persists – and sometimes worsens – in 80 percent of affected patients, placing them at life-long risk of anaphylaxis.

Vickery and his team enrolled 40 peanut-allergic children aged nine months to 36 months to participate in OIT.

“We take individuals who are allergic to a food and we deliberately expose them to very small amounts of the food to eat,” said Vickery.

“Starting with, in this case for peanuts, a small fraction of one peanut and then gradually increasing the dose over time.”

After receiving OIT for about 29 months, the study participants stopped receiving it for four weeks before the “final peanut challenge,” where participants ingested a small amount of peanut in a controlled setting.

If participants showed no allergic response to peanut, doctors then reintroduced a normal portion of peanuts, such as in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“We gradually exposed the person, it changed their immune response to, in this case peanuts, and caused a shift in their clinical reactivity.”

The phase two clinical trial results, published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, show that nearly 80 percent of the children consumed peanuts with no allergic response and continued to have no allergic response after the four weeks.

Vickery says that while the results are promising, he estimates the time span to be three to five years before this type of treatment is available clinically.

“We would like to bring about the day where people have access to safe and effective treatments that are FDA approved. To do that, just like any medication that gets FDA approved, it has to be studied in thousands of people and rigorously characterized.”

Despite the exciting potential, Vickery wants to remind families that the treatment is still considered an experimental research procedure.

“I think it’s important for your [audience] to know that this is not something that should be attempted outside of a research setting. We’re still trying to really understand how it works and who it’s best for.”
The trial was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and a collaboration between the UNC School of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Vickery led the study with assistance from executive dean for the UNC School of Medicine, Wesley Burks.


UNC Announces New Dean for School of Social Work

UNC has announced the selection of Gary L. Bowen as the new dean for the School of Social Work.

Bowen, who is currently Kenan Distinguished Professor in the School, will begin his new position on September first.

“Gary Bowen is a longtime faculty member, who along with former Dean John B. Turner, worked to develop the school’s doctoral program from 1988-92. Over the years, that program has grown and is now one of the reasons the school is nationally recognized and consistently earns a top ranking in U.S. News and World Report,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost James W. Dean Jr.

“Chancellor Carol L. Folt and I are confident that under his leadership, the school will continue to develop innovative research that enhances social work practice and education.”

Currently, Bowen co-directs the School Success Profile project at Carolina, an assessment tool used to determine the strength of connections middle and high school students have with neighbors, their school, families and peer groups and determines services and support needed to increase the probability of the students’ success at school.

More than 100,000 students in nearly 1,500 schools around the nation have used the assessment tool. It has been translated into five languages for use in other countries.

Previously, Bowen worked with all branches of the United States military on many different mental health and social services issues and consults regularly with military policymakers, researchers and practitioners.

“I am honored to serve the school, and I find inspiration from the three leaders whose names are on the building, John A. Tate Jr., John B. Turner and Charles Kuralt,” said Bowen.

“I am confident that we can continue to find solutions to the challenges of poverty, mental illness, violence and substance abuse and prepare social workers to make a difference, not only in our state but around the nation and the world.”

In 2016, Bowen received three awards in the School of Social Work: an Excellence in Doctoral Student Mentoring Award, the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Dean’s Recognition Award for Outstanding Leadership, Impact and Contribution to the Mission of Teaching, Research and Service.

Bowen is a Fellow in the National Council on Family Relations, a Fellow in the Society for Social Work and Research and he was listed as one of 40 “high impact” social work scholars in a recent study published in the journal Research on Social Work Practice.

Bowen received a doctorate in family relations and child development from the School of Human Environmental Sciences at UNC-Greensboro, a master’s degree in social work from UNC and a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology and social work from UNC-Greensboro.

Bowen will succeed Dr. Jack Richman, who has served as dean for 14 years.


Good Neighbor Initiative Readies for Year No. 13

The University of North Carolina and Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership have collaborated again to create The Good Neighbor Initiative for the 13th year in a row.

The Good Neighbor Initiative is an event filled with volunteers who go door to door in select neighborhoods to educate those residents on rules and regulations in their area.

Meg McGurk from the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership has been a part of this event for several years now and said they will visit around 1,000 houses on August 22.

“It can be everything from noise ordinances, where to take your trash cans and to bring them in at the end of the night, don’t park on the lawn, and also we are having this great block party later in September,” McGurk said. “We invite all the neighbors, both the students and the year-round residents to come together, share a meal and entertainment and activities, and really celebrate their own community.”

This initiative started to bring together students and year-round residents of the neighborhoods and encourage them to get to know one another and respect their shared community.

Director of Greek Life and Community Involvement for UNC Aaron Bachenheimer said they have expanded to some neighborhoods in Carrboro and want to continue to expand this program in the future.

“The expansion typically is driven by feedback from the neighborhoods so several years ago we started to see more and more calls, some noise concerns, some trash concerns, and the number of formally single-family homes that are now rentals may be in need of the Good Neighbor Initiative, shall we say,” Bachenheimer said.

The Good Neighbor Initiative door-to-door event will be held on the first day of classes on August, 22. The block party will be held on September 13 from five until nine o’clock in the evening at the Hargraves Community Center.

The organizers are still looking for more volunteers for both events. If you are interested in being involved, visit the UNC Campus Involvement page to sign up.


‘WonderSphere’ Brings Nature into UNC Children’s Hospital

In a fifth floor room of the UNC Children’s Hospital, a rectangular tray with a large dome was cleaned and ready to go.

“The top of it is clear so that the kids can see what they’re doing, and it has built in gloves so that they can actually touch things,” said Katie Stoudemire. “We can open it and put things in it, but once we seal it, there’s no air going in or out.”

Stoudemire described the WonderSphere – her latest invention to connect hospital patients with nature.

The Wonder Sphere. Photo via Erin Wygant.

The WonderSphere. Photo via Erin Wygant.

“Kids who have compromised immune systems can’t be around plants and natural objects because, while they wouldn’t make me sick, they would make kids with compromised immune systems sick.”

Stoudemire is the program manager for Wonder Connection, a program of the North Carolina Botanical Garden that provides nature and science activities for kids in the hospital. She noticed that children undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments that weaken the immune system must stay in controlled environments – children like 13-year-old Rachel Rivera Nunez.

“She’s not able to be around plants at all and I wanted a way to bring plants in safely for children like her,” Stoudemire said.

The WonderSphere was her solution. Designed by the Bressler Group, the inspiration for the air-tight dome came from neo-natal ICU beds, complete with sealed rubber gloves. This design helps patients safely pursue their passions and explore new activities – like making flower arrangements.

“Rachel is a kid that I’ve worked with before and she really loves crafts,” Stoudemire said. “She was telling me that she really loves to make things, so I asked her if she wanted to make an arrangement and she told me she wanted to make one for her mom.”

Stoudemire placed a bouquet of flowers and a few vases under the dome, sealed it tight and wheeled it into Nunez’s room.

Nunez and Stoudemire working to construct a bouquet of flowers inside the Wonder Sphere. Photo via Erin Wygant.

Nunez and Stoudemire working to construct a bouquet of flowers inside the WonderSphere. Photo via Erin Wygant.

“That is a marigold,” Stoudemire explained to Nunez. “Have you heard of that? And all these flowers came from a farm in Hillsborough and we went over yesterday to pick up these flowers for you.”

Nunez was quiet as she slipped her hands into the protective green gloves and began arranging the flowers into a vase for her mother. She smiled softly as Stoudemire introduced her to two small insects inside the sphere.

“In here, in this corner, we have two caterpillars. You see them? Oh no, caterpillars overboard!”

After she arranged the flowers just right, Nunez used an iPad to photograph her work. Since she can’t keep the actual bouquets in her room, she said she’ll keep the pictures instead.

“I love this activity because it gives so many option and choices to kids or anybody in the hospital who don’t get a lot of choices when they’re here,” Stoudemire said. “Giving back just a tiny sense of control can be really empowering for kids.”

As Nunez edited the photos she took, Stoudemire commented on the activity’s success.

Nunez used an iPad app to save a picture of her flowers. Photo via Erin Wygant.

Nunez used an iPad app to save a picture of her flowers. Photo via Erin Wygant.

“It’s really great that we were able to bring actual, live plants that were grown locally into her room and let her interact with them and make choices with them.”

Wonder Connection and the WonderSphere are supported by science education grants and other donations that help the program incorporate as many types of outdoor education as possible.

“I think of us as facilitators and mentors rather than a lecturer,” Stoudemire said. “We’re there to help kids reconnect with nature and get excited about nature.”

But outdoor education doesn’t just end with the WonderSphere. Stoudemire’s next project will bring a working replica of a North Carolina stream into the hospital. Movable river rocks, water bugs and highly filtered water will make the experience safe for patients, Stoudemire said, and help them remember the days when they weren’t in a hospital bed.

“If we can help them reconnect to that positive memory, then they’re having a positive experience during this tough time and they can take away a positive experience.”

Stoudemire said that positive experience was summed up by one child.

“My favorite Wonder Sphere quote from a child was, ‘This is better than an iPad!’”


Former UNC Head Coach Bill Dooley Passes Away

Former UNC football coach Bill Dooley passed away on Tuesday morning at the age of 82.

UNC officials confirmed the news on Tuesday after WRAL was first to report.

Dooley’s family released a statement after his passing:

“Coach Bill Dooley passed away this morning. He will be missed by his family and friends and will be remembered by all of us whose lives he has touched so deeply.”

Dooley led the Tar Heel football program from 1967-1977, the longest tenure of any head football coach in UNC history.

Don McCauley was the ACC Player of the Year twice under Bill Dooley. McCauley spoke with WCHL’s Blake Hodge about his former coach.


UNC went 69-53-2 with Dooley as the head coach, setting the school record at the time for career wins.

Current UNC head football coach Larry Fedora released the following statement through UNC:

“Coach Dooley was a great coach and an even better man who made a lasting impact on this university and on college football as a whole. He touched the lives of the young men who played for him in a profound and special way. He proved that Carolina was a program that could produce a winning tradition and his legacy is something we strive to uphold each and every day. Our thoughts are with Marie and the entire Dooley family in this very difficult

Lee Pace has covered UNC football for many years. Pace spoke with WCHL’s Blake Hodge about the former UNC coach.


Dooley is the only UNC football coach to win multiple Atlantic Coast Conference Championships with titles in 1971, 1972 and 1977. The 1972 Tar Heels set a school record for wins after an 11-1 season; that 11-win record was matched by the 2015 team.

UNC senior associate athletic director Steve Kirschner shared his memories of Dooley with Aaron Keck on WCHL.


UNC went to six bowl games under Dooley – the Peach Bowl in 1970 and 1976, Gator Bowl in 1971, Sun Bowl in 1972 and 1974 and the 1977 Liberty Bowl.

UNC finished in the Associated Press top 20 in 1972 and 1977 under Dooley.

WCHL’s Art Chansky discussed Dooley’s legacy with Aaron Keck on WCHL.


Dooley went onto become head coach and athletics director of Virginia Tech in 1978 and coached in Blacksburg until 1986. Dooley then coached Wake Forest from 1987 through 1992.

John Bunting coached UNC football from 2001 – 2006. He released the following statement on Dooley’s passing:

“Coach Dooley helped change the course of college football. He reversed the trend at UNC where he built a winner. The ACC, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest all benefitted from his great leadership. But most importantly, he mentored character development to thousands of young men.”

Longtime voice of the Tar Heels Woody Durham released a statement on Tuesday:

“Along with Coach Smith and Athletic Director Homer Rice, Coach Bill Dooley was instrumental in bringing me home to Carolina in 1971 to broadcast the games. He was an outstanding football coach at UNC and helped the Tar Heels to great success in the 1970s. I will miss his everlasting friendship and continued support of football and amateur sports in our state.”

Former UNC head coach Mack Brown issued the following statement:

“If the mark of a coach is to make a difference at his school and in the lives of his players, then Bill Dooley touched us all. He put North Carolina football back on the map. He won a lot of games and ACC championships and led the Tar Heels into post season bowl games. He understood kids, and valued the game. He knew the fine line between a ‘come here’ hug and a ‘sic ’em’ attitude. He never hesitated to share his knowledge and insight with those of us who followed. Most of all, he was my good friend, and I will miss him a lot.”

1969 and 1970 ACC Player of the Year Don McCauley:

“I was recruited by Coach Bill Dooley out of Garden City High School in New York. The main reason I chose UNC was my belief in Coach Dooley and the fact that he and his staff had dedicated themselves to putting UNC on the football map. Coach Dooley brought the SEC mentality to the ACC.

I credit Coach Dooley with teaching us that the harder you work, the harder it is to surrender; that winning is an attitude; and the invaluable lesson of discipline, both on and off the field.

These lessons helped me survive 11 years in the NFL. I thank Coach Dooley for giving my incredible teammates and me the opportunity to succeed. He certainly had a great impact on all of our lives.”

ACC Commissioner and UNC quarterback under Bill Dooley John Swofford:

“Bill Dooley had a profound impact on so many of us who played for him.  He was, pure and simple, a football coach in the truest sense.  He leaves a lasting legacy on the players he coached, the schools he represented, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the sport of college football.  I was fortunate to have him as a part of my life for over four decades – as a coach,  colleague and friend.  Our thoughts and prayers will remain with Marie and the entire Dooley family.”


Brayden Schnur Leaving UNC for Professional Tennis

Brayden Schnur will forego his senior season playing tennis at UNC to pursue a professional tennis career.

Schnur made the announcement on Twitter and on Monday the university sent a release calling Schnur “one of the greatest players in North Carolina men’s tennis history.”

The Ontario native was the 2014 ITA National Rookie of the Year and Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year. That season Schnur also became the first Tar Heel freshman to earn All-America honors in more than 20 years. Schnur went on to be named All-America and All-ACC during his sophomore and junior campaigns as well.

Schnur won the USTA/ITA National Indoor Collegiate Championship as a sophomore.

UNC men’s tennis coach Sam Paul released a statement regarding Schnur’s choice to leave UNC early.

“We support Brayden 100 percent in his decision. He is unquestionably one of the greatest players in program history. It was an honor to coach him and we look forward to following his career. Brayden had unprecedented success in his time at UNC. No other player I’ve coached in 27 years at Carolina had as many accolades.”

Schnur is scheduled to play this week in the National Bank Challenger Gatineau.

Schnur is the second UNC tennis star to leave school early in as many years. After winning the 2015 women’s singles title as a sophomoore, Jamie Loeb opted to turn her attention to a professional tennis career.


UNC Research Project Care4Moms to Investigate Needs of New Mothers

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.