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During the season of giving, selecting appropriate gifts for young children may seem like a daunting task. ECU instructor Ashley Norris, Department of Child Development and Family Relations, offers the following advice for selecting fun and educational toys:
Look for gifts that are open-ended with multiple uses, she said, and toys that support some aspect of development. She said children learn through play so it is important for toy purchases to be well thought out.
A time-honored gift appropriate for both boys and girls is a set of blocks, Norris said.
"There are so many types of blocks that you can find one for any age group," she said. "Why spend $200 on a doll house when you can spend $30 on blocks and children can make a doll house – or a fire station or farm or school – whatever their interest may be." "When you pair a gift like blocks with another toy (such as toy animals, people and cars), the possibilities are endless," she added.
Norris said research supports a direct link between block play in early childhood and math achievement in middle and high school. When children play with blocks, she said, they work through all kinds of math and science skills including spatial awareness, problem solving, parts of a whole, weight and balance. Building blocks help children build skills that will enhance performance in science, technology, engineering and math.
For younger children, Norris suggested toy buyers look for blocks that are larger and made of softer materials or plastic (like Duplos and Megablocks). As children get older and can handle smaller pieces, more challenging block sets (like Legos) that support the use of their fine motor skills are appropriate.
Note to media: Norris is available for media interviews about appropriate toy selections. Call 252-916-3490 to arrange an interview.
For anyone who cringes at the thought of all of the parties, cookie exchanges, and buffet-laden meals that have filled the December calendar, East Carolina University associate profesor of nutrition science Dr. Kimberly Myers laid out her top tips for making it through the holiday season guilt — and extra pounds — free.
While a "Top 10" is the norm set out by the late-night talk show hosts, Myers wanted to give one last and very important tip: BE REALISTIC! The holidays are not the best time to focus on losing weight, instead focus on maintaining one's current weight.
For more helpful tips on eating and living healthy through the holidays and beyond, pick up a copy of "The Inflammation Cure Cookbook" by Drs. Myers and Meggs now available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.com.
NOTE TO MEDIA: Myers is available for media questions by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 252-328-5697.
Nov. 22 will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, an event that has most likely generated more conspiracy theories than any other crime. East Carolina University professor of criminal justice Dr. Mark Jones maintains that despite the best efforts of conspiracy theorists – including filmmaker Oliver Stone – no evidence has emerged suggesting that anyone other than Lee Harvey Oswald was involved in Kennedy's murder.
Jones has researched the Kennedy assassination and visited the location where it took place. He is delivering a criminal justice history course this semester that addresses the Kennedy assassination, along with the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, in addition to the attempted assassinations of Harry Truman, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.
Jones is available to speak with the media. Contact Jones at 252-328-4190 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Media inquiries should be sent in advance as he will be in Washington, D.C. on unrelated business on Nov. 21 - 22.
Denver Broncos coach John Fox is recovering in a North Carolina hospital following aortic valve replacement surgery. Dr. Curtis Anderson, an ECU associate professor of cardiovascular sciences who specializes in aortic surgery, is available to answer questions about aortic valve replacement. To schedule an interview, contact Doug Boyd of ECU News Services at 252-744-2482 or email@example.com.
Candy corn, sweet potato pie and Rice Krispie treats are apt to be on the menu for many children celebrating the holidays. ECU School of Dental Medicine professor Dr. Christopher Cotterill said the increased intake of sweets this time of year prompted a campaign to raise awareness of oral health among children, parents and caregivers.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the Ad Council instituted the Partnership for Oral Health created the campaign, which includes a web site to share information on oral health at http://2min2x.org.
For more information about the campaign's recommendations and oral health during the holidays, read Cotterill's post on the ECU Health Beat blog.
Health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, open for business Oct. 1. The marketplaces, part of the federal Affordable Care Act, allow consumers to view the different insurance options available in their state and calculate costs and federal subsidies that individuals or families are eligible to receive toward payment of their premiums. Al Delia, director of the Office of Health Access at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, is an expert on the exchanges and what the ACA will mean for health care in North Carolina. To schedule an interview with Delia, contact Doug Boyd of ECU News Services at 252-744-2482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
'People in eastern North Carolina who are living with depression now have a new, non-invasive, non-drug treatment available. Psychiatrists at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University are working with a new treatment called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, or rTMS. Read more...
Subtle changes in vision, hearing and response time can impair abilities in older drivers, but caregivers may not recognize when it is time for senior drivers to hand over the car keys. ECU occupational therapy professor Dr. Anne Dickerson, director of the Research for Older Adult Driver Initiative, is an expert on driving and occupational therapy. She is available to speak with the media regarding senior driver safety and rehabilitation processes.
Dickerson completed several presentations on driving and occupational therapy this summer, including the following:
Former President George W. Bush underwent a procedure in Texas Aug. 6 in which doctors placed a stent to open a blocked artery. The blockage was discovered during a physical examination Monday. More information is online at http://usat.ly/1epNnm7.
Dr. Ramesh Daggubati, an interventional cardiologist and clinical associate professor at East Carolina University, is available to speak with reporters about Bush’s procedure. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Doug Boyd at 252-744-2482 or email@example.com.
Hot summer days encourage outdoor family outings and barbecues but for patients living with arthritis, those celebrations can lead to pain and fatigue. ECU occupational therapy professor Debbie Amini has provided tips for sidestepping discomfort in an article posted in the Aug./Sept. issue of Living with Arthritis. She is available to speak with the media about how a few simple adjustments can help individuals who are living with arthritis enjoy those summer parties and family gatherings to the fullest. Contact Amini.
The heavy tropical rains of summer 2013 have provided ideal conditions for breeding mosquitoes. A common yet dangerous pest in eastern North Carolina, mosquitoes transmit diseases such as dengue, La Crosse encephalitis and West Nile encephalitis, according to East Carolina University environmental health professor Dr. Stephanie Richards.
Richards is researching mosquito-virus interactions, with a goal of developing tools to control ways in which the mosquitoes transmit disease.
She is available to speak with the media about mosquito-borne illness and the environmental factors that affect how they transmit disease. Contact Richards.
Twinkie-lovers are rejoicing. The much-loved snack cakes will return to stores July 15, with a shelf life even longer than the original. Although the manufacturers officially state the improved product’s shelf life at 45 days, ECU nutrition science professor Diana Saum suspects a Twinkie might just live forever – or close to it – because of unhealthy additives.
Increased shelf live = increased chemicals, she said. Food manufacturers often resort to increasing the chemical content of foods in order to increase shelf life.
Even if contents include sugar and fats, Saum said she’d rather have real food than chemicals. “I would rather have a slice of chocolate cake that I made myself, rather than a Twinkie,” she said.
Saum is clinical instructor of nutrition science in the College of Human Ecology at ECU. She is available for media questions by e-mail at SAUMD@ECU.EDU through July 17.
The American Medical Association approved a measure June 18 recognizing obesity as a disease. Although not legally binding, that measure sends a strong message to health providers and health insurance companies, potentially changing the way patients with obesity are treated. Dr. David Collier, associate professor of pediatrics at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine and director of ECU’s Pediatric Healthy Weight Research and Treatment Center, is available to speak with the media about obesity and the effects of the AMA declaration. Contact Collier.
Heavy rains from summer storms like Tropical Storm Andrea, which caused sudden downpours across the region June 7, can lead to stormwater runoff from rainwater that “runs off” the land rather than seeping into the ground, according to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. That untreated water can affect water quality in streams, lakes and rivers around eastern North Carolina. ECU environmental health professor Dr. Tim Kelley, program director for Environmental Health in ECU’s Department of Health Education & Promotion, is an expert in water quality. He is available to speak with media about the effects of stormwater runoff from heavy tropical rains. Contact Kelley.
The North Carolina legislature has approved the “Back to Basics” bill that makes cursive handwriting a requirement in the state’s public elementary school curriculum. Cursive handwriting remains an important skill for children even in the digital age, said ECU occupational therapy professor Dr. Denise Donica, a certified handwriting specialist. She compared handwriting to essential math skills, which are still crucial even though students may use calculators or computers.
NOTE TO MEDIA: Donica is available June 3 – 6 for media interviews related to the handwriting requirement. For more information on Donica, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs/ot/donica.cfm. Contact Donica at (252) 744-6197 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summer is in full swing and travelers are hitting the roadways to visit the many tourist destinations across the state of North Carolina. And a growing number of those travelers are looking for a greener place to visit, according to Alex Naar, director of outreach at the Center for Sustainable Tourism at ECU.
Pilot research from the center has found that 88 percent of travelers say they seek out attractions and accommodations that implement green practices. Another 84 percent say it is important that travel destinations demonstrate consciousness of the environmental impact of tourism and take steps to reduce it.
Despite the growing interest in green travel, many travelers find it difficult to locate greener hotels, restaurants and attractions. To resolve this problem -- while supporting and assisting tourism businesses interested in going green -- the N.C. Division of Environmental Assistant and Outreach, in partnership with the Center for Sustainable Tourism at ECU, the Waste Reduction Partners and the N.C. Division of Tourism have developed NC GreenTravel, North Carolina’s first statewide green travel recognition program.
More than 55 tourism businesses across the state have been recognized by the program, from the highest peaks at Grandfather Mountain State Park to the Cape Hatteras Bed and Breakfast along the Outer Banks.
For more information about the NC GreenTravel program and to see a list of recognized business, visit www.ncgreentravel.org. For more information about sustainability in tourism and the Center for Sustainable Tourism’s most recent research and outreach activities, visit www.sustainabletourism.org.
Note to Media: Alex Naar, director of outreach for the Center for Sustainable Tourism at ECU, is available to speak to the media about green travel and the new NC GreenTravel initiative. Contact Naar at email@example.com or at (2529) 737-1346.
New military portal launched at ECU
East Carolina University’s long tradition of supporting military service members and their families continues this Memorial Day weekend with the launch of a new military web portal, an all-inclusive site that combines all military programs and services onto one user-friendly web page.
Among the features on the site are an interactive FAQ page with answers to common questions, along with direct links to e-mail assistance for specific questions. Sections include university resources, military outreach programs, student veteran services and GI benefits.
The portal is live at http://www.ecu.edu/military.
Note to Media: Steve Duncan, assistant vice chancellor for Administration and Finance and Military Programs is available to speak with the media regarding the many ways in which ECU is responding to the specific needs of military service members and their families. Contact Duncan at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 252-328-9094.
A more robust supply of primary care physicians is a critical ingredient in supporting a healthier workforce and lower health care costs for the nation, Dr. Paul Cunningham testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee this week. Cunningham is dean of the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. Cunningham told lawmakers that the current system of strategies and rewards for practicing medicine and training doctors needs to shift.
“The government has a responsibility to help with the transitions that are necessary to align payment and rewards with the current and future needs of our citizens,” said Cunningham, who also practiced as a primary care physician in the small eastern North Carolina town of Windsor, in Bertie County.
The focus of the hearing by the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging is health care workforce programs and the effectiveness of those programs.
Cunningham was asked to testify because of the success of the Brody School of Medicine in training primary care physicians, particularly its record in preparing physicians that practice in rural and underserved areas. The school leads the nation in sending graduates into family medicine, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Since 1980, 60 percent of graduates who completed a family medicine residency at ECU are still practicing medicine in North Carolina today. Ninety-eight of them, or 30 percent, are practicing east of Raleigh, where a shortage of doctors — particularly primary care physicians — is the most pronounced in North Carolina.
The strategy used by the Brody School can be a model for the nation, Cunningham said. Increasing the emphasis on primary care will help move the nation toward a system of “care homes” where teams of health professionals coordinate care for patients and families. That comprehensive approach, he said, is more effective and efficient than having health care delivered in a fragmented fashion.
The Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging has oversight over many issues including: The Older Americans Act; elder abuse, neglect, and scams affecting older adults; long-term care services, community health centers, The Health Resources and Services Act, oral health, health care disparities, Alzheimer's disease and family caregiving.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent, is the committee chair and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, is the ranking member.
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Note to media: Copies of Cunningham’s written testimony are available. For additional information, contact Mary Schulken, executive director of communication, public affairs and marketing, 252-328-6482, email@example.com.
As news continues to unfold in Boston and surrounding communities related to the bombing of the Boston Marathon, questions may arise about motivation behind the acts. Dr. Alethia Cook is director of ECU Interdisciplinary Security Studies Program and a professor in the Department of Political Science. She can speak to media about the Boston bombings and the aftermath. Contact Cook.
Fish oil, a common dietary supplement touted for lowering triglycerides and suppressing inflammation, might also help boost the immune system, according to researchers at East Carolina University and Michigan State University.
New research published in the April issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology suggests that instead of suppressing the body's immune response, fish oil actually improves the function of B cells, a type of white blood cell vital to the immune system.
Fish oil rich in docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, is widely believed to help prevent disease by reducing inflammation. Until now, scientists were not entirely sure about its immune effects. The new report helps clarify this action by showing that DHA-rich fish oil increases B cell activity, challenging the notion that fish oil is only immunosuppressive. This discovery is important as it shows that fish oil may have clinical use among those with compromised immune systems.
"This work confirms similar findings on fish oil and B cells from our lab recently published in the Journal of Lipid Resarch and moves us one step closer to understanding the immune-enhancing properties of EPA and DHA," said Dr. S. Raza Shaikh, an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU and co-author of the study.
In the study, researchers used two groups of mice. One group was fed a control diet, and the other was fed a diet supplemented with DHA-rich fish oil for five weeks. Researchers harvested B cells from several tissues and then stimulated them in culture. They then looked for markers of B cell activation on the cell surface, B cell membrane changes and B cell cytokine production.
They found that DHA-enriched fish oil increased B cell activation and select antibody production, which may actually aid immune responses associated with pathogen clearance.
The study, “DHA-enriched fish oil targets B cell lipid microdomains and enhances ex vivo and in vivo B cell function,” is available online at http://www.jleukbio.org. Graduate student Heather Teague and research specialist Mitch Harris also contributed to the study and are listed as co-authors.
Last year, Shaikh received the Early Career Award at the International Society for Fatty Acids and Lipids for his work involving omega-3 fatty acids and the body’s immune system.
Media Availability: To arrange a media interview with Shaikh, contact Doug Boyd at 252-744-2482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Research under way at East Carolina University is investigating how diet affects women’s ability to recover from substance abuse. A multi-disciplinary team including Dr. Elizabeth Wall-Bassett (Nutrition), Dr. Michael Robinson (Social Work, Substance Abuse) and Dr. Mary Crozier (Allied Health and Rehabilitation) is examining the nutritional needs and eating behaviors of young women, mostly mothers living in recovery centers with their children.
March is National Social Work Month and National Nutrition Month, and the research combines elements of both fields of study.
The researchers are examining the types of food eaten, changes in eating behavior as the women transition from substance abuse to recovery and general approaches to nutrition. Nearly 80% of recovering addicts have relapses. The researchers are interested in what strategies can improve this relapse rate and how nutritional intervention can be a part of that.
The researchers seek to provide alternate, healthier ways of meeting nutritional and recovery needs. They hope to construct a nutrition assessment tool for recovering women and to build bridges between recovering women, their families, caregivers and health care providers for optimal treatment targeting each stage of recovery.
The project is titled NOW! Nutrition of Women in Recovery
Media Availability: Dr. Elizabeth Wall-Bassett in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, ECU College of Human Ecology, is available to speak with the media about the research. She can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 252-737-2413.
A bill that would require hospitals to perform a test to see whether newborns have a heart defect before they are allowed to go home has passed the N.C. House and awaits deliberation in the Senate.
According to Dr Charlie Sang, a pediatric cardiologist and professor at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU, the test measures the amount of oxygen in the body. “Some infants with congenital heart disease will have no clinical signs of a defect but will have a difference in oxygen levels comparing the right arm to the legs,” Sang said. “This is a screening tool to help diagnose congenital heart defects before the infant is discharged home. The test does not cause any pain and is a sensor placed on the skin for less than a minute on the right hand and one of the legs.”
To schedule an interview with Sang, contact Doug Boyd of ECU News Services at 252-744-2482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emergency responders face risky scenarios on a daily basis, but sometimes life-threatening risks arise from within. That was the case this month when an eastern North Carolina fire chief died of cardiac arrest while fighting a brush fire on Knotts Island. Jessica Van Meter, ECU Human Performance Lab research associate, can speak about East Carolina University’s cardiovascular health assessment program, which provides risk assessment testing for emergency responders.
Housed in the FITT (Fitness, Instruction, Testing and Training) Building in the Department of Kinesiology, College of Health and Human Performance, the ECU Human Performance Lab’s Cardiovascular Health Assessment Program is designed to establish an individual’s risk of developing heart disease and diabetes and to provide insight on modifying heart disease susceptibility.
Advantages to the Human Performance Laboratory assessment include a 12-lead maximal treadmill test, risk factor profiling, exercise prescription and body composition assessment. A maximal treadmill test is the most cost effective, non-invasive approach for detecting heart disease.
The cardiovascular health assessment program services individuals in Pitt County and surrounding areas, ECU employees, fire/rescue officers and law enforcement officers. Participants receive an advanced report and explanation of their results, in addition to an individualized exercise prescription and lifestyle instruction. For additional information about the program, visit http://hplab.weebly.com/service-programs.html.
Van Meter is available to speak with the media about the assessment service. To arrange an interview with Van Meter, contact her at (252)737-1294 or e-mail email@example.com.
Roanoke River Mayors Association from Spike Hoban on Vimeo.
An East Carolina University outreach program is boosting the region’s economy through programs that take advantage of existing natural resources for 12 eastern North Carolina communities situated along the Roanoke River. ECU professor Dr. Paige Schneider has led this effort to promote eco-tourism, which focuses on drawing visitors to experience a natural, pristine environment without negatively affecting that environment.
The communities involved are Hamilton, Oak City, Hassell, Halifax, Weldon, Williamston, Hobgood, Bear Grass, Plymouth, Windsor, Scotland Neck and Jamesville.
“Most of North Carolina’s local towns historically developed around tobacco, textile, and furniture factories,” Schneider said. “As manufacturing jobs have been lost, community leaders have been challenged to find innovative approaches to retain and create jobs.” She said the project helped stakeholders in the region to identify eco-tourism initiatives that would create jobs as well as income opportunities, while contributing to environmental conservation.
The project was funded through a $73,000 grant from the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center.
Schneider is a faculty member in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies and an affiliate faculty member at the ECU Center for Sustainable Tourism.
Media availability: Schneider is available to speak with the media about eco-tourism in this region or specifically about the Roanoke River collaboration. Contact information for Schneider is available at http://www.ecu.edu/cs-hhp/rcls/schneiderp.cfm.
The Greenville Police Department Mobile Command Unit which was recently a part of a community crime clean-up will be featured at the Criminal Justice Career Fair on Wednesday, February 20 from 1-3pm at Mendenhall Student Center.
The annual career fair gives students and alumni the opportunity to meet with a wide variety of agencies in one setting. Representatives from federal, state, and local criminal justice agencies will discuss criminal justice careers and current job opportunities. Additionally, two North Carolina law schools will be on hand to answer questions about the admission process and career opportunities. The following organizations have registered to participate.
FEDERAL: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Federal Bureau of Prisons; Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS); US Army; US Coast Guard; US Customs and Border Protection; US Navy; US Probation Office; US Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security
STATE: NC Department of Public Safety-Adult Correction; NC Department of Public Safety-Juvenile Justice; NC Department of Public Safety-State Highway Patrol; NC License and Theft Bureau; NC State Bureau of Investigation; NC Wildlife Resources Commission
LOCAL: ECU Police Department; Greensboro Police Department; Greenville Police Department; Pitt County Sheriff’s Office; Raleigh Police Department; Winston-Salem Police Department
LAW SCHOOLS: Campbell University School of Law; Elon University School of Law
Dr. William Bloss, chair of the Department of Criminal Justice, is available for interviews about the criminal justice program and its annual career fair. Contact Dr. Bloss at (252) 328-4192 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individuals seeking a sugar free alternative for celebrating love on Valentine’s Day might enjoy the love-themed exhibits showing in galleries and exhibit spaces across Pitt county, including shows at ECU’s Laupus Library and Joyner Library.
The Laupus exhibit, featuring artwork by Greenville Brushstrokes members, will be held in Room 1504 Feb. 8 – 15.The exhibit will be available during normal operating hours posted at www.ecu.edu/laupuslibrary or call 252-744-2219.
At Joyner Library, four faculty artists from the ECU School of Art and Design will show their works in a faculty art show, beginning Feb. 8 and running through May 15 in the Joyner Library Exhibit Gallery. Faculty members are Catherine C. Walker-Bailey (collaborating with Mamie Dixon, instructor in athletics); Susan Carol Luddeke, Punam Madhok and Amy McIntyre.
The county-wide exhibits tie in with Valentine’s Day and aims to showcase the vibrant and growing local arts community.
State health officials say a new strain of norovirus is spreading across North Carolina, with seven outbreaks of the intestinal illness already this year in the state. Norovirus usually causes severe diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. Dr. Keith Ramsey, a professor of medicine at ECU and chief of infection control at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, has more information about norovirus, its causes, its treatments and how to prevent it. To schedule an interview with Ramsey, contact Doug Boyd of ECU News Services at 252-744-2482.
Is your get more sleep resolution keeping you up at night? Are you missing those holiday sleep-in mornings? ECU experts share common mistakes that can lead to tossing and turning, and how to get more ZZZs in the ECU Health Beat series, "5 Ways to Blow Your New Year's Resolutions." Additional series topics include dieting, setting and meeting goals and weight loss resolution burnout. Read more at ECU Health Beat.
Media Availability: For experts on topics related to the New Year resolution series, contact ECU News Services - Crystal Baity, (252) 744-3764, email@example.com.