By Crystal Baity
Ask Dr. David Ginty about living in Greenville and he remembers the camaraderie of the Brody School of Medicine, along with Venters biscuits and B's barbecue.
"I must have gained 20 pounds while I was living there. The food was so good," said Ginty, who has a picture of B's in his home office in Baltimore.
He lived off N.C. 33 in a big farmhouse with little insulation, several roommates and his dog. "We'd set an alarm to wake up and put firewood in the stove," he said.
He arrived in 1984, originally from Connecticut, having just finished an undergraduate degree at Mount Saint Mary's College in Maryland.
"I was interested in not being too far away and interested in physiology," Ginty said. "They gave me a chance. I liked that part of the country and the idea of living there for five years, so it was perfect."
After graduating from East Carolina University's medical school with a doctorate in physiology, Ginty was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School in Boston, studying development of the nervous system and, in particular, the mechanism of action of nerve growth factor.
He later joined Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he is a professor of neuroscience, oversees the neuroscience graduate program and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, an honor bestowed only on the best of the best, said Dr. Edward R. Seidel, ECU professor of physiology.
In Seidel's lab, Ginty focused on the role of polyamines in cellular proliferation.
"He was the hardest-working student I've ever had in my lab," Seidel said. "He came in by 8 a.m. and rarely went home before 9 at night. He truly enjoyed working in the lab and was completely devoted to it."
Ginty said Seidel "provided the right amount of independence and guidance," which gave him confidence to tackle problems as he matured as a scientist.
"Of all the people I've worked with in 25 years, he stood out," Ginty said of Seidel. "He was far and away my most influential colleague not only at ECU but elsewhere."
Ginty has tried to emulate Seidel's style of thinking and creativity when working with his own students.
"It was Ed's enthusiasm and approach to science and life," he said. "It was invigorating. He really motivated us to look further and try harder."
Ginty is internationally known for his work on how neurons track to the places they were meant to travel in the brain and peripheral nervous system during embryological life.
"My mission is to understand how nerve cells in the developing brain form their proper connections with one another in order to generate functional circuits," Ginty said.
His research on the nervous system is examining sensory neurons, the nerve cells that detect touch, pain, temperature or itch, how they develop and form, and give rise to the sense of touch.
The research could lead to a better understanding of diseases afflicting patients with nerve damage, including diabetic and chemotherapy-related neuropathies, and neurodegenerative disorders like ALS and Alzheimer's disease.
Ginty has been recognized with a Pew Scholars Award, the Klingenstein Foundation Award in Neuroscience, Alfred P. Sloan Research Award, the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award by the National Institutes of Health, as well as by the March of Dimes and American Cancer Society.
His time at ECU reflects in his teaching today.
"People really cared and discussed ideas and helped me grow tremendously," Ginty said. "The environment was nurturing. People were generous and shared their time and expertise. It led to the style and approach I take in my own lab."
Brody Class of 2010 graduates
Top, from left, Geniene and Jamande Jones and Catherine Loflin pose for a photo May 8, 2010, following the Brody School of Medicine convocation at Wright Auditorium. Sixty-six medical students received their degrees at the event. During their senior year in medical school, the Joneses married during a mission trip to Zambia. Dr. Tom Irons, professor of pediatrics, performed the ceremony on the banks of the Zambezi River.
Brody sends 58 percent into primary care residencies
Neel Thomas, left, celebrates the news that he'll be heading to Wake Forest University for a residency in anesthesiology.
Thomas was one of 65 Brody School of Medicine students who participated in Match Day on March 18, 2010. Thirteen of them -– the same number as last year – are entering family medicine residencies. Eleven are entering some type of internal medicine residency. Nine students are entering pediatric residency programs, and five are entering obstetrics and gynecology. Those numbers equal 58 percent of the students participating in the match.
The class of 2010 was accepted into institutions in 18 states in 17 specialties. The Brody School of Medicine and PCMH will be home to 15 class members. Thirty-one graduates will stay in North Carolina.
Susan Morgan will be studying obstetrics and gynecology at Ohio State University. "I've loved it here, and I'm going to miss it here a lot, but I'm very excited to be going somewhere completely different," she said, adding she will especially miss Pirate football games.
Before the first student's name was called to come get an envelope with the match letter, Dr. Paul R.G. Cunningham, dean of the Brody School of Medicine, spoke. "You are cut from the Brody cloth. Remember to lead," he said.
Dr. Katherine Bray-Strickland, a 2009 graduate of the Brody School of Medicine, died Feb. 10, 2010, after a lengthy struggle with cancer. She was 27 and a family medicine resident at ECU.
Bray-Strickland is survived by her husband, David, and parents, Paul and Dr. Emily Bray, a faculty member at Brody. She posthumously received the new Young Alumni Award at the 2010 alumni weekend event in September. The award will be named in her memory.
Dr. Linda Miller died March 31, 2010, of cancer. She was 54. A 1999 graduate of the Brody School of Medicine, Miller completed residency training in psychiatric medicine at ECU and PCMH and practiced as a child psychiatrist in eastern North Carolina. Miller had bachelor's and master's degrees in textile engineering from N.C. State University and worked in that field and as a volunteer emergency medical technician before entering medical school.
Miller is survived by her husband, Donald, two daughters, a brother and other relatives.
Dr. Anna W. Hudson died Sept. 18, 2010, of cancer. She was 30. She was a 2008 graduate of the Brody School of Medicine and a family medicine resident at ECU.
Hudson is survived by her husband, Keith, her parents, two sisters and other relatives.
A story about Hudson's life by News & Observer writer Aleta Payne is online at http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/12/02/837481/living-life-fully.html
For more alumni news, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs/mhsfoundation/alumni.cfm.