ECU researchers receive grant to study chronic pain
Two East Carolina University researchers have received funding for a project that could lead to better quality of life for people living with chronic pain.
Drs. Sonja Bareiss and Kori Brewer were awarded a two-year, $300,000 grant by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to study the development and possible treatments of the debilitating pain that commonly occurs after a spinal cord injury.
Bareiss, an assistant professor in the College of Allied Health Sciences’ Department of Physical Therapy, practiced physical therapy for eight years before earning her doctorate in anatomy and cell biology.
“My clinical experience informs the way I ask the questions,” she said. “When I was practicing in the clinic, I didn’t feel like I had a lot of tools to treat patients with chronic pain. That motivated me to do basic science research so I could better understand what was happening with my patients.”
Subsequently, her doctoral studies focused on pain at the cellular level; specifically, how sensory neurons – which relay sensory information like pain – grow and form connections. She became especially interested in the uncontrolled growth – or “sprouting” – of sensory cells in the peripheral nerves, which are those beyond the brain and spinal cord.
“This branching off of peripheral sensory cells to form new connections in the spinal cord has been recognized in humans who’ve suffered spinal cord injury,” Bareiss said. “It’s thought to contribute to abnormal sensations, including pain.
”Brewer, an associate professor and associate chief of the Division of Research in the Brody School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine, is well versed in the basic science of pain.
The pair has collaborated since 2010, when they received seed funding from the Harriet and John Wooten Lab for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research, which aims to jump-start Brody faculty on multidisciplinary research projects about molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in neurodegenerative diseases.
They hope their findings will lead to an effective pharmacological treatment for the sharp, burning neuropathic pain commonly experienced by patients after spinal cord injuries. Specifically, they’re trying to determine whether reducing sensory ‘sprouting’ – with a specific drug known to stop it – will combat the pain without sacrificing motor function. Current treatments are ineffective, they said.
It could also have implications beyond pain relief.
“Chronic pain is debilitating, and it affects every facet of life,” said Bareiss. “Once these pain conditions arise, they tend to persist or worsen over time. It reduces quality of life and hinders a person’s reintegration into community and vocation.”
“What if, instead of reducing the sprouting, you were to enhance it, fostering new synaptic connections in brain cells? Could that help with Alzheimer’s? The signal may be the same,” said Bareiss.
According to the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Pain Medicine, chronic pain affects more than 100 million Americans – more than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.
One reason, Bareiss said, is people are surviving spinal cord injuries that would have proven fatal 50 years ago. Of the more than one million people who live with spinal cord injuries in the United States, about 50 percent develop neuropathic pain within the first six months of their injury, and as many as 90 percent report it at the five-year mark, she said.
Brewer called the team’s research a “novel approach to a long-standing problem” because rather than focusing on the brain or the spinal cord, they are studying the peripheral nerves that carry pain information from outlying areas of the body into the central nervous system. Understanding the cellular mechanisms involved, she said, could have applications for all types of chronic pain.
Dr. Heather Harris Wright, associate dean for research in the ECU College of Allied Health Sciences, said, “The collaboration between Dr. Bareiss and Dr. Brewer exemplifies how researchers across ECU’s Division of Health Sciences work together to address health-related issues affecting North Carolinians.
"Our college is very excited about the tremendous impact this research could have for individuals living with chronic pain.”
The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation was established in 2002 to provide funding for a broad spectrum of charities benefiting spinal cord injury research and rehabilitation.
Health alumnus receives governor's award
alumnus of the College of Allied Health Sciences at East Carolina University
was among the 38 state employees honored with a 2014 Governor's Award for
Finley, a dysphagia specialist who works at the O'Berry Neuro-Medical Treatment
Center in Goldsboro, was one of three N.C. Department of Health and Human
Services workers cited for providing excellent customer service.
to find ways for program residents with extreme developmental disabilities to continue
enjoying solid foods and to delay their need for liquefied diets. He developed
and taught therapeutic exercises to help residents maintain or regain the ability
to chew and swallow.
earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in communication sciences and
disorders from ECU in 2004 and 2006.
Governor's Award for Excellence is the highest award for service given to state
employees. "Each of these outstanding
employees goes beyond simply performing their responsibilities to provide
patient-focused care and make a difference in the lives of the people they so
selflessly serve," said DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos. "We can all be proud of our
employees' commitment to our patients and others and willingness to serve from
Finley's wife Stacy holds identical degrees from the ECU College of Allied Health Sciences and is employed by Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro.
| | Bareiss Receives Grant for Cord Injury Pain Research
The Neilson Foundation has approved funding for Dr. Sonja Bareiss' grant, "Targeting GSK-3beta Signaling to Prevent Spinal Cord Injury Pain". This research will investigate maladaptive plasticity mechanisms involved in the development and recovery from chronic pain following central nervous system injury. These studies are aimed at developing new treatments for those living with spinal cord injury pain.
| | Atherton Presented John Baggett Award
Dr. Leigh Atherton was presented The John Baggett Award at the National Alliance on Mental Illness – North Carolina (NAMI NC) 2014 Annual Conference held Oct. 17 in Raleigh. The John Baggett Award is given in recognition of the local community efforts of a non-member on behalf of people living with mental illness and their families. Dr. Atherton would like to further recognize the faculty and students within the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies for their support and contributions to community service and fundraising efforts over the past year.
Save the Date
The 11th Annual Jean Mills Health Symposium will be held February 6, 2015 at East Carolina Heart Institute featuring keynote speaker L. Allen Dobson Jr., MD, president and CEO of Community Care of North Carolina. This year's keynote and concurrent sessions will center around the topic,"New Models for Empowering Personal and Community Health". Register to attend by clicking here and learn more about the event here.
| | CAHS Announces Interim Dean
Greg Hassler, PhD, JD, has been appointed the College of Allied Health Sciences Interim Dean. Dr. Hassler is a former philosophy professor and chief legal counsel for the Health Sciences Division. Currently, he is a faculty member in the Brody School of Medicine Department of Bioethics and Interdisciplinary Studies, and is serving as the interim director of the Laupus Health Sciences Library and chair of the CAHS Dean's Search Committee as well. Dr. Hassler will assume the role of interim dean starting Nov. 1 following Dr. Thomas' retirement on Oct. 31.
Fall 2014 Alliance Released
The latest edition of the College of Allied Health Sciences' quarterly newsletter, Alliance has been released. Along with several stories about recent College events, staff and student accomplishments, and updates, this issue also contains the final "Dean's Message" from Dr. Stephen Thomas before his retirement. Click here to read the newsletter.
2014 Health Informatics Career Fair and Symposium
Through a collaborative effort between five universities across North Carolina, the Health Informatics Career Fair and Symposium was an informative success with 239 registrants and 23 exhibitors attending the event at the East Carolina Heart Institute Oct. 24, 2014.
The East Carolina University College of Allied Health Sciences' Department of Health Services and Information Management, Duke Center for Health Informatics, ECU College of Business, the School of Library and Information Sciences at North Carolina Central University, the Carolina Health Informatics Program at University of North Carolina, and the Health Informatics Professional Science program at UNC-Charlotte came together for this initiative to provide a venue for students and the general public to learn about practicum opportunities, the latest research trends and developments in health industries and job opportunities in the health informatics field.
Health Informatics is an evolving field that links information technology, communications, and healthcare. The growth in the area of electronic health records has steadily driven the need for qualified individuals who can process and analyze clinical data. Through the Health Informatics Career Fair and Symposium, registrants learned more about the scope of the field and predicted outcomes for its future.
The event began with an address from keynote speaker Lynne Thomas Gordon, Chief Executive Officer of the American Health Information Management Association, who reminded students that the future is now and shared 10 important factors for achieving success. Gordon highlighted that to accomplish goals students need to have positive self-expectancy, self-motivation, self-discipline, and self-awareness, along with other key requirements.
Following the keynote address, those in attendance participated in panel discussions on topics such as transitioning into health informatics, careers in health informatics and perspectives in health informatics. Panelists and moderators included faculty from all participating universities as well as employers and students.
Between sessions, posters that were entered in the poster contest were available for viewing in the atrium. Mengyuan Fang, a graduate student in the ECU College of Business was awarded for his poster "Effects and Sustainability of Health Information Exchange" which included contributions from ECU faculty members Dr. Yajiong Xue and Dr. Huigang Liang. Kim Joyner, Quality/Accreditation Manager for Student Health Services at ECU was also awarded for her poster, "Disaster Preparedness Drill - Student Health Services".
Throughout the day, exhibitors such as Vidant Health, Community Care of North Carolina, and Epic, a software company that provides medical software for medical groups, hospitals and integrated healthcare organizations, were available to answer questions and meet with students. Other exhibitors and sponsors included Allscipts, American Health Information Management Association, BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, Cardinal Innovations, Greenway Health, IBM, Kinston Health Center, Northeastern University, SAS, and Seagate Consultants.
Spear-headed this year by the Department of Health Services and Information Management at ECU, the symposium is an annual event that rotates between the university partners. The fifth annual symposium will be held in the Research Triangle Park area in October 2015.
View more photos from the event below:
| | Dr. Johnson Completes Intermediate Certification
Dr. Sarah Johnson recently completed her intermediate certification in manual therapy from Maitland-Australian Physiotherapy Seminars (MAPS). In order to complete this certification Dr. Johnson had to take six courses in manual therapy and pass written and laboratory examination. The Maitland-Australian Certification is the most widely recognized manual therapy certification in physical therapy.
Dr. Downes' Art Showcased at Laupus
Sheldon Downes, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus from the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies presents a 2014 Fall Semester exhibit as part of the Art as Avocation series. Entitled, "The Beauty of Realism," Downes showcases a collection of oil paintings that capture the beauty of landscapes and scenes from nature. The exhibit is on display in the Laupus Library 4th floor gallery beginning October 21 and will run through December 12, 2014. Please see attached flyer for more information. The opening reception will be held on October 21st at 4:30pm in the library's 4th floor exhibit gallery and is open to the public.
44th Annual Downes Symposium a Sold-Out Success
The 44th Annual Meta M. Downes Speech-Language and Hearing Symposium was not only a great opportunity for those interested in the speech, language, and hearing fields but also a successful, sold-out event.
With 247 students, professionals, and faculty registered to attend the symposium, held Oct. 17 in the East Carolina Heart Institute, a satellite location had to be added in the Health Sciences Building.
The annual event is truly a student-run event with the East Carolina University Chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) taking the helm in organizing the symposium , arranging speakers, and executing the symposium.
Deborah Bengala, director of undergraduate education and clinical associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders serves as the advisor for NSSLHA and said she couldn’t sing the praises of her students loud enough when it comes to their leadership abilities in making the symposium a success.
“The goals of the annual symposium are to raise money for scholarships and community projects, as well as to provide current clinical and research information, to students and professionals. We are able to accomplish these goals through the collaborative work of our graduate and undergraduate students,” said Bengala.
This year’s event focused on developing evidence-based treatment for childhood articulation disorders and vocabulary and literacy development in Latino preschoolers. Those in attendance heard presentations from faculty members Dr. Lucia Mendez and Dr. Yolanda Holt, and also utilized the new information in development activities such as using the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association evidence map for speech sound disorders in children and discovering the impact of variations in classification of disorders on therapeutic approach.
During the symposium, several scholarships were awarded to students in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Dr. Shel Downes, husband of Meta Downes and professor emeritus in the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies, presented the Meta Downes Scholarship to four students, Ivey Best, Katie Broadwell, Valentyna Hibbs, and Harris Shepherd. Michael May from the RiteCare Childhood Language Program, an organization funded through the Scottish Rite Foundation, was also present to award two scholarships to Anna Lawrence and Jillian Nyswonger.
Other awarded scholarships included the Tanya Johnson McDowell and Riley Floyd Scholarship presented to Cara Julian and Aaria McConnell, the Lina Edwards Wheeler Memorial Scholarship presented to Lisa Tallman, the James and Carol White Speech Pathology Scholarship presented to Mary Highsmith and Sara Shaw, and the Robert Muzzareli Scholarship presented to Elizabeth McGee.
The Meta M. Downes Speech-Language Hearing Symposium began in 1970 as the ECU Speech-Language Hearing Symposium, created by Associate Professor Emeritus Robert Muzzarelli and former Associate Professor Meta Downes. While it originally served as a professional development symposium designed to expand the skill set of professionals in the fields of speech and hearing, it later grew to include sessions designed for not only those who had already succeeded in the field, but also for students hoping to learn more as they furthered their education. Following the death of dedicated faculty member Meta Downes, who had been with the Department for 36 years and advised the ECU Chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, the student organization voted to re-name the event in her honor in 2010.
The event is sponsored by the East Carolina University Chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) in cooperation with the ECU Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Eastern AHEC.
View photos from the event below:
October 2014 CAHS Research Update
Check out the October 2014 edition of the College of Allied Health Sciences Research Update featuring vital information about funding opportunities, upcoming deadlines, resources and highlights from CAHS research developments. You can view the update and access the links by clicking here.
2014 Health Informatics Career and Internship Fair/Symposium
The Department of Health Services and Information Management and the College of Business at East Carolina University, along with several other NC colleges are collaborating for the 2014 Health Informatics Career and Internship Fair/Symposium to be held Friday, Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the East Carolina Heart Institute. To view more information, register to attend, or register to sponsor this event visit www.hicareerfair.com.
Dr. Harris Publishes Book
Dr. Susie Harris, associate professor from the Department of Health Services & Information Management has a book publication, Managing Health Informatics and Services Operations. This book explores management skills and techniques for undergraduate healthcare students and entry-level professionals pursuing a career in the management of health information management (HIM) departments. Read more...
Dr. Givens Elected President of National Council
Dr. Gregg Givens, professor emeritus in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders has been elected President of the National Council of State Boards of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Dr. Givens' term will be for the 2015 calendar year. Congratulations Dr. Givens!
Dr. Stephen W. Thomas Honored at Retirement Reception
Faculty and staff from across East Carolina University gathered at the East Carolina Heart Institute Oct. 13 to honor Dr. Stephen Thomas who will retire as the dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences Oct. 31 after 34 years with the College.
The evening began with two honorable presentations. Dr. Paul Toriello, chair of the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies and master of ceremonies for the reception along with Vice Chancellor Phyllis Horns presented Thomas with the honor of Dean Emeritus and a gold stole reflecting his new title. Dr. Don Ensley, professor emeritus from the Department of Health Services and Information Management and Amos Mills, benefactor of the Jean Mills Health Symposium recognized Thomas with a certificate of appreciation for his dedication to the annual symposium for the past 11 years.
Following the presentations, words of gratitude and praise for the Dean's endless loyalty and passion for the field, along with quips about Thomas' notoriously messy office were delivered by Dr. Horns, deans across the Health Sciences Campus, and chairs of the eight CAHS departments.
Thomas' eldest daughter Dr. Darby Thomas also spoke stating that while she is happy to have inherited her father's love for research and education; she too suffers from the "messy gene" showing photos of her current office and how it compares to the stacks of papers in Thomas'.
Thomas then took the podium to thank those in attendance for their continued commitment to the College. He recognized his chairs, faculty, staff, and fellow administrators, and then thanked his wife Melody for her unwavering support during his years as dean, interim dean, chair, and faculty member at the College.
Dr. Stephen Thomas came to ECU in 1980 as a faculty member in the rehabilitation studies department tasked to start and direct the vocational evaluation master's degree program. He was named chair of the department in 1998 then later named interim dean of the College in April 2001.
Prior to ECU, Thomas held academic, research and administrative positions with the University of Arizona in Tucson, the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie and the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Thomas earned his doctorate of education and his master's degree in rehabilitation studies from the University of Arizona and his bachelor's degree in psychology and sociology from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.
Thomas, an avid sailor and boat enthusiast says that he bases his leadership philosophy on a quote by mariner and author John Rousmaniere, "The goal is not to sail the boat, but rather to help the boat sail herself." While the College feels like Dean Thomas has done an amazing job teaching the "boat to sail herself", the faculty and staff will certainly miss having him as the captain.
View photos from the reception below:
44th Annual Meta M. Downes Symposium
Don't miss the 44th Annual Speech & Hearing Symposium featuring discussions regarding assessment and treatment of bliginual children and children with articulation disorders. This conference, to be held Friday, Oct. 17 in the East Carolina Heart Institute, consistently tops itself each year with outstanding speakers to elevate the practice of Speech Language Pathology professionals. Find out more information by viewing the brochure and register online here.
The College of Allied Health Sciences Celebrates Homecoming 2014
The College of Allied Health Sciences celebrated homecoming weekend at East Carolina University Oct. 3 with a reception held in the Health Sciences Building lobby. With over 150 alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the College registered to attend, the building was full of excited patrons exploring the various departments and enjoying a “treasure hunt” throughout the College.
The CAHS homecoming event began with a reception in the lobby where guests were treated with a performance from the ECU women’s a Capella group, The Magnolia Belles. Following welcoming remarks from Dean Stephen Thomas, who celebrated his last homecoming with the College before his upcoming retirement and Sydney Humphreys, student liaison to the Dean, Director of Development Pat Frede took the podium to present Dr. Thomas with a surprise. The CAHS Advancement Council along with the Medical and Health Sciences Foundation has renamed the Student Leadership Legacy Fund to the Dr. Stephen W. Thomas Leadership Legacy Student Fund. Dr. Thomas said he was made “speechless” by the honor and was grateful that a fund he feels so passionate about now holds his name.
After hearing instructions for the evening from Dr. Kathleen Cox, department chair in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, representatives from the ECU Ambassadors and CAHS Student Leaders Council led those in attendance throughout the College to learn more about each department and see presentations from faculty and students. The Operation Re-Entry van, a grant-funded mobile clinic that aids veterans across eastern North Carolina in the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies was also available in the parking lot for tours and demonstrations.
Alumni also used the homecoming event to meet up with fellow members of their graduating class. The Department of Physical Therapy class of 1984 had a reunion after the general reception with around 20 members of the class and faculty from that time enjoying a tour of the PT labs before gathering for dinner. Many of the alumni were surprised and thrilled to see the new advances in technology available for students since their years in the program.
At the end of the event, everyone who toured through the departments and marked off their "treasure map" was able to pick some "pirate booty" from the CAHS treasure chest of goodies donated by each department.
View more photos below:
Dr. Brinkley Invited to Join Customer Advisory Board
Dr. Jason Brinkley has been invited to join the Customer Advisory Board for the JMP division of SAS Institute. The JMP Customer Advisory Board is a 16 member panel that serves in a consultative role to provide feedback regarding future directions, product features, and marketing and communications initiatives. The board consists of 16 members mostly coming from industry with current representation from Procter & Gamble, Archer Daniels Midland, Pacific Gas & Electric, Eastman Chemical Company, Bank of America, GlaxoSmithKline, and others. Dr. Brinkley is only one of three university affiliates on this year’s board. Responsibilities include conference calls and on site meetings which will feature demonstrations of new features in JMP, lively roundtable discussions about best practices in analytics, and the future of the analytic marketplace.
| | Dr. Kulesher Participates in "Doctors on Call" segment for WITN
Dr. Robert Kulesher from the Department of Health Services and Information Management served on a panel of health professionals for WITN's "Doctors of Call" segment Sept. 10. Dr. Kulesher answered calls regarding health insurance choices and provided resources for those trying to understand and select the right insurance for their needs. You can view the video interview between Dr. Kulesher and WITN's Lynette Taylor here.
September 2014 CAHS Research Update
Check out the September 2014 edition of the College of Allied Health Sciences Research Update. This bimonthly update provides vital information about funding opportunities, upcoming deadlines, resources and highlights from CAHS research developments. You can view the update and access the links by clicking here.
The Academy of Community Engagement Scholarship (ACES) board of directors has invited Dr. Beth Velde, director of strategic planning & the Mills Symposium for the College of Allied Health Sciences, to become an inaugural member of the Academy. Read more on the ECU Health Beat Blog by clicking here.
Dr. Beth Velde Invited to Join Academy of Engagement Scholarship
Celebrating Homecoming 2014
The East Carolina University College of Allied Health Sciences will host a Homecoming 2014 Reception Oct. 3 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.in the Health Sciences Building. To RSVP by Sept. 19 please visit this link. Visit the CAHS Homecoming 2014 website for more information.
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