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Brettelyn Knell

COMMUNITY IMPACT: East Carolina University senior honored for community service

East Carolina University senior Brettelyn Knell has been recognized for outstanding leadership and service by North Carolina Campus Compact, a statewide network of colleges and universities with a shared commitment to community engagement.

Knell is a recipient of the network’s Community Impact Award, honoring one student leader at each member school. Twenty-one total students were chosen by their campuses for the honor this year, joining more than 200 college students recognized by the network since the award was first presented in 2006.

At ECU, Knell has been involved with the Adopt-A-Grandparent program for four years and currently serves as the program coordinator. She has partnered with other organizations to bring programming for Veterans Day, National Nursing Home Week, Thanksgiving and Christmas to residents at the Golden Living Center. Her commitment led to the Golden Living Center and the Adopt-A-Grandparent program receiving the 2015 ECU Leadership Awards for Outstanding Service Program of the Year and Community Partnership of the Year.

Read more about Knell.


FoodMASTER Workshop Teaches Hands-On Science

foodmasterFoodMASTER, a National Institutes of Health SEPA-funded resource for middle grade science classrooms, hosted a teacher training workshop for 25 teachers at the Natural Science Museum on Raleigh in early November. The 10-unit resource uses food as a tool to teach hands-on science to seventh and eighth grade students. 

Participants experienced the FoodMASTER approach while completing scientific inquiry learning labs and exploring ways to incorporate FoodMASTER materials into the middle grades science classroom.

The classroom-tested materials feature 24 hands-on laboratory experiences and 12 health-focused extension activities. Each chapter provides users with hands-on, application-based activities, detailed procedures, science concepts to be emphasized, materials needed, critical thinking exercises and background knowledge with instructions for educators.

Lab experiences and extension activities were designed so teachers in any classroom environment can implement them without the need for specific laboratory space.

Housed within the Department of Nutrition Sciences, FoodMASTER provides outreach opportunities for students interested in nutrition and health professions.

Foster Hunt

Foster Hunt serves veterans through the Navigate Counseling Clinic

Service-learning projects are one of many requirements for first-semester physician assistant studies students in the College of Allied Health Sciences. But when PA student Foster Hunt wasn’t compelled by any of the usual sites for the assignment, he forged his own path.

Hunt earned an undergraduate degree from Appalachian State University in information technology before beginning five years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he worked closely with doctors, medics and Navy corpsmen. After deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, he sought more opportunities to work in field medicine and began to consider returning to school in the health sciences.

"It was never a far stretch for me to go to PA school," said Hunt. "My mother’s a nurse, my aunt’s a nurse, and my great grandfather was a physician. There are pictures of me when I was little taking my mother’s blood pressure."

Read more about Foster Hunt here.

Author Awards 2015

CELEBRATING SCHOLARSHIP: Laupus Library marks 10 years of honoring health sciences authors

East Carolina University’s Laupus Library marked a decade of honoring research and scholarship from across the Division of Health Sciences’ colleges and schools at a Nov. 10 event.

The annual Health Sciences Author Recognition Awards celebrates the achievements of faculty and staff who have published peer-reviewed works in the last year. Nearly 100 authors were recognized for their books, book chapters, journal articles and other creative works.

"I can't tell you the pride I have because I have the undeserved privilege of working with you all," Dr. Phyllis Horns, vice chancellor for health sciences, told attendees. "We lead this institution in our research and scholarship…and we should not take that lightly. It’s a huge responsibility."

driving skills group

GEARING UP: Students teach driving skills to teens with autism

A driving program developed by East Carolina University graduate students is steering some local teens with autism toward greater independence.

When five students in the Department of Occupational Therapy went looking for resources this spring to help teens with autism become more independent, they found precious few. So they took action and created a week-long "boot camp" to help teenagers with high-functioning autism learn to drive.

Their first class of teens completed the program this summer and their experience continues to deliver results.

Read more about their experience.

Stand Down

PT students aid veterans at annual event

Senior students from the Department of Physical Therapy supported this year’s Pitt County Stand Down, held October 23 in Greenville. Sponsored by the QSA Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps homeless and low-income veterans, the four-hour event offered medical treatment, employment opportunities, and other resources to many in need.

A total of 31 students volunteered as part of a community outreach project to promote physical therapy and wellness. Veterans typically have myriad orthopedic pains due to years of rigorous physical demands while serving in the military.

Students worked in teams and performed screenings, evaluations, and treatments for 18 individuals. Physical Therapy Chair Dr. Walter Jenkins and Dr. Keith Sales, clinical instructor and project mentor, supervised activities and advised students on complex cases.

"I believe that the continuation of this project in future years will strengthen the relationship between our department and our local veterans," said student Clara Backus. "We want veterans to know that we support them and are here to help improve their quality of life."

Natalie Smith

PA Studies professor advances urgent care research

A College of Allied Health Sciences’ faculty member in Physician Assistant Studies is prompting emergency department clinicians to thoroughly analyze urinalysis results for the possible diagnosis of serious illnesses.

Natalie Smith, a clinical assistant professor and practicing physician assistant in emergency medicine, was published in the Journal of Urgent Care Medicine after she determined that routine urinalysis results can show an underlying presence of potentially life-threatening diseases. In her article, “Hyperbilirubinemia – An Urgent Care Approach,” Smith describes how she was able to link the presence of bilirubin in urine to a serious diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Read the full story here.


DARS accreditation

The master's program for Substance Abuse and Clinical Counseling is now accredited by the Board of Directors of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Offered by the department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies for the College of Allied Health Sciences, the program’s accreditation has been granted for a two-year period through October of 2017.

After an extensive review of self-study documents and a site visit, among other commitments from the department, the board believed the program substantially met the requirements for accredited status.

"We are proud to have our Masters in Substance Abuse and Clinical Counseling accredited by CACREP in Clinical Mental Health Counseling," said Dr. Paul Toriello, chair of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies. "We believe this accomplishment reflects the excellence demonstrated by our program since 1989."

Graduates of the Substance Abuse and Clinical Counseling Program may be employed in community mental health and substance abuse settings such as inpatient or outpatient programs, detoxification centers, residential and halfway-house programs, and home-based counseling programs.

"CACREP accreditation assures students of a high-quality program and a streamlined path toward professional licensure and jobs," noted Toriello. "Without the extraordinary vision, leadership and hard work of Dr. Lloyd Goodwin, professor and creator of the Substance Abuse and Clinical Counseling, and Dr. Shari Sias, assistant professor and the program’s current director, we would not have accomplished this momentous task."

Rhonda Joyner

Health Informatics & Information Management program graduates first master’s student

A distance education student from the Charlotte area has become the first person to graduate from East Carolina University with a master’s degree in health informatics and information management. Rhonda Joyner of Indian Trails completed her required internship this summer and is now seeking employment in the health care industry. ECU’s Department of Health Services and Information Management – housed in the College of Allied Health Sciences – launched its inaugural graduate program in 2013. The degree builds on a graduate certificate in health informatics.

Read more about Joyner’s experience at

Ethics and Professionalism cover

Cellucci and Forrestal prepare future healthcare managers

Ethics and Professionalism for Healthcare Managers by Elizabeth J. Forrestal and Leigh W. Cellucci, Professors in the Department of Health Services and Information Management, discusses a host of difficult decisions that health care managers face every day. Many can be loaded with ethical implications that, if not addressed properly, can evolve into major issues for both the manager and the organization as a whole.

This book prepares new and aspiring healthcare managers to make better decisions through a solid grounding in ethics and professionalism. The book uses cases that are based on a variety of health care settings, including hospitals, physician practices, ambulatory surgery centers, home health agencies, and skilled nursing facilities.

More info at

Nutrition Sciences Reports 100 Percent Pass Rate

Nutrition Sciences Reports 100 Percent Pass Rate

The Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics issues a report twice annually on the pass rate of graduates from the didactic program in nutrition on the national registration examination for dietitians. The Department of Nutrition Science is proud to report a 100 percent pass rate for the period of January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2015. Congratulations to these newly credentialed registered dietitians.

Leela Goel

ECU Hosts NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates

ECU Honors College student Leela Goel spent time this summer working with Dr. Stacey Meardon, assistant professor in Physical Therapy, learning about how computer models can aid in predicting tibial stress. Tibial pain and fractures are a common problem among athletes.

Read more about Goel's undergraduate research experience

Heather Harris Wright

Wright elected fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Dr. Heather Harris Wright, associate dean for Research and incoming chair of the Department of Nutrition Sciences, has been elected a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Fellowship is one of the highest forms of recognition given by ASHA of an individual’s accomplishments and is a public declaration of their outstanding professional achievements.

Individuals selected to receive awards given by the Association will be formally recognized with a presentation at the Awards Ceremony on Nov. 13 at the ASHA Convention in Denver.

Anne E. Dickerson

Dickerson earns Certification in Driving and Community Mobility

Dr. Anne E. Dickerson, professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, received Specialty Certification in Driving and Community Mobility from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).  Less than 1 percent of all occupational therapists accomplish this special distinction.

The attainment of certification demonstrates a strong level of commitment to the profession, the practice area of Driving and Community Mobility and consumer care.  Her completion of this certification demonstrates scholarly and professional involvement in activities that promote professional growth and contribute to the field of occupational therapy.

Walter Jenkins

Dr. Jenkins elected as President of the APTA Sports Physical Therapy Section

Dr. Walt Jenkins, Professor and Chair, in the Department of Physical Therapy was elected as President of the American Physical Therapy Association Sports Physical Therapy Section April 30, 2015. During 2015-16 he will serve as President-elect followed by a three year term as President.

The APTA Sports Physical Therapy Section is an 8,000 member professional organization serving its members, athletes of all ages and abilities, the profession, and the community at large through excellence in Sports Physical Therapy practice, research, education, and professional development.

Elam OT ScreenShot Web

CAHS Alumni Develops Occupational Therapy Video for Navy

College of Allied Health Sciences alumni and Navy Occupational Therapist Lieutenant Junior Grade Trey Elam is sharing his passion for occupational therapy through a new video developed for medical officers and prospective occupational therapists interested in a career in Navy Medicine. Read more on the ECU Health Beat blog by clicking here.


Tinnitus Clinic Web

SOUND ADVICE: Tinnitus clinic accepting patients for evaluations, therapy

For people suffering from tinnitus, silence is relative. The constant perception of "ringing ears" when there is no external sound is something those diagnosed with tinnitus deal with on a daily basis. Read more of this story, featured on the University homepage by clicking here. 



U.S. News 2016 ranking recognizes ECU health sciences graduate programs

Addictions Rehabilitation Studies WebEast Carolina University programs in medicine, nursing and rehabilitation counseling have been ranked among the best graduate schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Included in the rankings is the rehabilitation counseling program in the College of Allied Health Sciences' Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies, ranked 18th among such programs. "We're committed to providing the highest quality programs to prepare professional counselors for a complex and rapidly changing behavioral health care environment," said Dr. Paul Toriello, chairman and director of graduate programs for the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies. "Having our master's program in rehabilitation counseling be recognized by the US News & World Report is a testament to our continuous pursuit of excellence." ECU offers a master's degree in rehabilitation and career counseling and substance abuse and clinical counseling. Students also can pursue certificates in rehabilitation counseling, substance abuse counseling, vocational evaluation and military and trauma counseling. The doctoral program in rehabilitation counseling and administration allows students to specialize in substance and clinical counseling, vocational evaluation or rehabilitation research.


Dr. Perry Receives Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration Award

Perry,-Jamie-webDr. Jamie Perry, Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders has received an Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration Award in the amount of $15,900 to fund her project entitled "Assessing levels of nasality among children whose primary language is Spanish". Dr. Yolanda Holt and Dr. Lucía Méndez will be assisting with the project.








Dr. Willy Awarded Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration Award

Willy,-Richard-webDr. Rich Willy, assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy received an Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration Award in the amount of $15,900 to fund his project "In-field gait analysis and gait retraining to reduce risk factors associated with tibial stress fractures". Dr. John Willson and Dr. Stacey Meardon will be assisting with the project.








Dr. Ellis Selected as Leadership Academy Participant

Dr. Charles Ellis, associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders has been selected as a participant for the 2015 Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CAPCSD) Leadership Academy. Only 19 participants of the 75 applicants were selected for this inaugural event to be held in Newport Beach, California in April. As part of his participation, CAPCSD will provide complimentary registration for the academy, hotel expenses and complimentary registration for the CAPCSD Annual Conference.


College of Allied Health Sciences Honors Exceptional Students

Excel East Carolina University freshmen and transfer students who are either majoring in an area within the College of Allied Health Sciences or interested in pursuing a degree from the College and earned a 3.0 GPA or higher during the fall semester were recognized for their academic achievements on Feb. 20 as part of the annual ECU EXCELS program.

Following a brief presentation by Interim Dean Greg Hassler, senior students and faculty members from the four undergraduate programs at CAHS, Clinical Laboratory Science, Health Services Management, Speech and Hearing Science, and Rehabilitation Services spoke about their programs and gave the students advice about how to make the most out of their majors and to continue succeeding in their college careers.

After hearing from the seniors, advisors Anthony Coutouzis and Kristal Gauthier presented the awarded students with an ECU Excels certificate, along with Dr. Hassler.

The following students were invited to be recognized as part of the ECU Excels Program:

Adams, Kathryn A.

Adams, Melissa D.

Alford, Carter L.

Almutairi, Rashed A.

Ayscue, Ashley K.

Baggett, Anna M.

Bates, Lindsey H.

Best, Morgan B.

Bogert, Hunter S.

Bridgers, Maci A.

Brinkley, Mariana E.

Bullard, Madison A.

Burgin, Stephanie

Butler, Jennifer B.

Cantrell, Casey F.

Clarke, Kimberly M.

Cline, Anna E.

Cooper, Alicia J.

Coro, Jeisy C.

Cox, Ashlyn B.

Currier, Madison M.

Daborowski, Jared D.

Dahrooge, Victoria M.

D’Artois, Kelsey A.

Davis, Kensleigh G.

DeGree, Meagan N.

DeRoche, Carina A.

Donaldson, Christina M.

Driver, Carrie L.

Echols, Aliyah D.

Evans, Brittany G.

Flaster, Traci M.

Fleming, Dusty L.

Furimsky, Stephanie A.

Gagliardi, Elizabeth R.

Garner, Elizabeth L.

Gibson, Wendy R.

Glenn, Corey S.

Goodman, Angela K.

Gregory, Candace C.

Hamiel, Kionna R.

Hancock, Paige E.

Hart, Dawn A.

Hauhuth, Kelly E.

Hernandez, Alicia N.

Herold, Amy C.

Hill, Matthew G.

Hoffman, Maria Christina K.

Holcomb, Michael J.

Houston, Kayla E.

Hughes, Anna J.

Jama, Hodan A.

James, Louisa D.

Jarman, Haleigh P.

Johnson, Chynah A.

Kea, Angela F.

Kline, Kylie P.

Koogler, Mary R.

Lancaster, Brittany D.

Lanier, Deanna T.

Le, TuAnh N.

Lee, Aspyn P.

Lee, Patricia L.

Luyster, Sydney R.

Marriaga Castillo, Abner E.

Marsh, Connie L.

Medina, Alexis M.

Miller, Jamie L.

Miller, Melissa L.

Mills, Kristina K.

Miranda, Shawn H.

Moore, Jessica M.

Murray, Harley K.

Nelson, Lani D.

Newnam, Andrew P.

Nguyen, Kristina Y.

Niccoli, Jennifer B.

Nicks, Charlotte E.

Palmiotto, Jessica L.

Paynter, Janis D.

Pemberton, Colleen A.

Phthisic, Rachel D.

Poole, Janice G.

Pozegic, Lejla

Price, Donna

Quick, Brandon F.

Ringenberg, Rachel N.

Robbins, Whitney A.

Robinson, Julie A.

Rodriguez, Angela N.

Sampson, Deion T.

Scales, Autumn K.

Schulman, Emily B.

Scribner, Haley

Skinner, Julia M.

Smith, Harley G.

Smith, Shadona R.

Stanley, Erica N.

Starling, Allison K.

Stevens, Erika

Stokes, Joel E.

Stone, Savanna J.

Strickland, Lydia G.

Taylor, Aubrie W.

Taylor, Garrett F.

Teeter, Meredith E.

Terrell, Teresa M.

Tisdale, Ashlynn S.

Valdez, Tatiana V.

Vue, Susan

Wallace, Shamika L.

Warren, Eddie E.

Waterman, Maryelizabeth

Williams, Vantisha B.

Wilson, Sierra K.

Ziegler, Melissa L. The students then had the chance to tour the College and learn more about their intended or current majors.

This is the sixth year that the ECU Excels program has recognized the accomplishments of first time ECU students. For more information contact Anthony Coutouzis at

View photos below:












Vanessa Perry highlight CAHS Student Featured in Pirate Profiles

Vanessa Perry, a third year doctoral student in the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies is currently featured on the University homepage. Check out Vanessa's "Pirate Profile" here

Mar_15 Research Update Web March 2015 Research Update

The latest edition of the CAHS Research Update is now available. Check out the March 2015 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

Anne Dickerson Five Questions with Dr. Anne Dickerson

Check out the latest "Five Questions With..." interview on the CAHS Research website featuring Dr. Anne Dickerson from the Department of Occupational Therapy. Read the interview here...


Dr. Thomas Awarded Order of the Long Leaf Pine

Dr. Stephen Thomas, dean emeritus of the College of Allied Health Sciences was recently honored with one of North Carolina's most prestigious civilian awards for his outstanding service to the state in the area of health equity. Read more...

GENERATING SOLUTIONS: Symposium peddles patient-centered partnerships

Innovative community health care driven by patient needs, and tailoring local resources to cooperatively address those needs was the focus of the 11th annual Jean Mills Health Symposium held Feb. 6 at East Carolina University.  Read more...

Kulesher Dr. Kulsher Interviewed on WCTI

Dr. Robert Kulesher from the Department of Health Services and Information Management was interviewed by WCTI to comment on the recent partnership announcement between Lenoir Memorial Hospitals in Kinston and Novant Health System headquartered in Winston-Salem. The entire story can be viewed online by clicking here






Feb_15 Research Update Thumb February 2015 Research Update

The latest edition of the CAHS Research Update is now available. Check out the February 2015 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

Ray Hylock Five Questions with Dr. Ray Hylock

Checkout the latest "Five Questions With..." interview on the CAHS Research website featuring Dr. Ray Hylock from the Department of Health Services and Information Management. Read the interview here...

Dr. Thomas Awarded Order of the Long Leaf Pine

LLP Thomas and WilliamsThe dean emeritus of the College of Allied Health Sciences at East Carolina University was recently honored with one of North Carolina’s most prestigious civilian awards for his outstanding service to the state in the area of health equity. 

Dr. Stephen Thomas, who retired in October, was presented the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award Feb. 6 during the 11th annual Jean Mills Symposium, an event aimed at generating awareness and solutions for health problems that plague North Carolinians and especially minorities. Thomas has been instrumental in organizing the event over the past decade. 

Although the honor was conferred by the governor, the surprise presentation was made by Dr. Johnny Williams, president of the Old North State Medical Society; Amos T. Mills, founder of the Mills Symposium; Dr. Don Ensley, professor emeritus of health services and information management; and Dr. Julius Mallette, president of the Andrew A. Best Medical Society. 

Thomas served the university for 34 years. He joined 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 and interim dean of the former School of Allied Health Sciences in April 2001. 

After his promotion to dean in 2003, Thomas led the school through several new endeavors including a move from its former location in the Belk Building to the new Health Sciences Building in 2006, and a name change from the School of Allied Health Sciences to the College of Allied Health Sciences in 2007.
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ECU researchers receive grant to study chronic pain

Bareiss Web Full

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.

Bareiss and Haskins Research“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.


Allied Health alumnus receives governor's award

Joe Finley News PicAn 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 Excellence.

Joe 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.

Finley works 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.

Finley earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in communication sciences and disorders from ECU in 2004 and 2006.

The 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 their hearts."

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.