ECU professor Dr. Sam Sears, pictured above in the classroom, will host "Health Discoveries," an ECU-TV production focused on university research, teaching and service addressing health challenges faced in eastern North Carolina. The first episode airs at 6 p.m. Aug. 31. (Photo by Jay Clark)


Series highlights ECU work addressing regional health

Aug. 29, 2014

By Spaine Stephens
For ECU News Services

“Health Discoveries,” a production of ECU-TV, will launch at 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 31. The “Health Discoveries” series, hosted by Dr. Samuel F. Sears, will highlight specific successes of East Carolina University faculty in solving important health problems via research, teaching and service.

“The series will feature faculty members from across Main Campus and the Health Sciences Campus whose research, scholarly activity, teaching, or service are creating unique solutions to challenges facing people in eastern North Carolina,” Sears said.

“’Health Discoveries’ is a vehicle ECU can use to not only highlight our outstanding faculty, but to bring attention to some of the most serious health-related problems looming over our region and state.”

Episodes of the show, which will typically run about 15 minutes each, will focus on health topics being addressed across major ECU departments, including medicine, nursing, psychology and exercise science. The eight episodes in the fall series include on-site interviews between Sears and the featured guest faculty members showcasing their research or creative activity that is currently or could potentially impact health and quality of life for residents in the East and beyond.

The premiere will focus on the work of Dr. Matt Whited, assistant professor of psychology, and his work in the area of depression and cardiac disease.

Other topics explored through the series will include mind-body health, healthy weight control, and maintaining exercise. Future guest experts for the fall series include Mike McCammon (exercise physiology), Dr. Joe Houmard (exercise physiology), Dr. Lesley Lutes (psychology), Dr. Barbara Muller-Borer (engineering), Dr. Linda May (dental medicine), Dr. Ethan Anderson (pharmacology and toxicology) and Dr. R. Todd Watkins Jr. (dental medicine).

The series will educate viewers on the value of ECU through its faculty and research, and about the ways in which the university is poised to make a difference in North Carolina, the region, state and world.

Sears is a professor in the Departments of Psychology and Cardiovascular Sciences at East Carolina University. He also serves as the director of doctoral studies in the Department of Psychology.

Sears was awarded the O. Max Gardner Award in 2013. This annual award is given by the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina system to the faculty member who “has made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race” in the past year. The award is considered the highest honor bestowed to a faculty member in the UNC system.

Sears is considered the world authority on the psychological care and quality of life outcomes of patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). He has published more than 100 articles in the medicine and psychology research literatures and provides lectures all over the world on a regular basis. Recently, Sears created a smart phone application, “ICD Coach,” which is the first-ever app for cardiac patients focused on successful coping.

With the O. Max Gardner Award came raised awareness about Sears’ work. He felt that other faculty members on campus also were producing groundbreaking work that the public should hear more about. “We have faculty on this campus, in a variety of fields, who are making discoveries every day that will one day make lives better,” Sears said. “Their stories need to be told. Their work needs to be showcased. ‘Health Discoveries’ gives them a chance to report on their progress.”

After the Aug. 31 premiere, “Health Discoveries” can be viewed on demand here ( Also on ECU-TV weekly at 8 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and at 4 p.m. on Saturdays. ECU-TV can be found on Greenville Suddenlink Cable Channel 99.