Kathy James Wins UNC Peer Recognition Award

Kathy "KJ" James

Kathy “KJ” James

Kathy “KJ” James, Administrative Support Specialist within the Division of Infectious Diseases, is the recipient of the UNC Employee Forum’s Peer Recognition Award. KJ won in the Call of Duty category, which honors UNC staff who go above and beyond their job description.

“KJ makes everyone else’s job easier and does so in a way that just makes you smile,” says David van Duin, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine within the Division of Infectious Diseases.

Van Duin and Irving Hoffman, PA, MPH, Research Professor within the Division of Infectious Diseases and the U.S. Director of UNC Project-Malawi, nominated James for the award. In his nomination letter, Hoffman provided an example of how James took the initiative to ensure a visiting, international nurse, who missed the driver that was sent to meet her at the airport, made it to her accommodations safely.

“The nurse panicked and was in tears. The only number she could find on that Sunday night was Kathy’s,” Hoffman wrote. “And in a snowstorm late at night, Kathy drove nearly an hour one way from her rural home to pick up the nurse, console her and get her settled. That is Kathy James. She exemplifies what UNC is all about.”

James will be honored and receive a certificate during the Employee Forum’s Peer Recognition Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, June 8. 

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UNC Researchers vs. Zika Outbreak

UNC faculty Elizabeth Stringer. MD, (right) and Sylvia Becker-Dreps, MD, MPH, (left) during travels to the UNC Program in Nicaragua to contribute to research efforts to understand Zika infections.

UNC faculty Sylvia Becker-Dreps, MD, MPH, (left) and Elizabeth Stringer, MD, (right) during travels to the UNC Program in Nicaragua to contribute to research efforts to understand Zika infections.

By Bradley Allf, Features Writer, UNC Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases

Researchers at UNC are working across departmental lines in order to answer questions about the emerging Zika virus outbreak. The mosquito-borne virus is garnering much international attention, particularly due to its potential to cause birth defects. Yet compared to related viruses like dengue, little is known about Zika virus. Researchers and lab groups at UNC from many different departments are working at the forefront of this outbreak to answer some of the most urgent questions about Zika virus and its effects on human health.

Helen Lazear, PhD, is one of those researchers. She works in the UNC Department of Microbiology and Immunology studying arboviruses— that is, viruses that are transmitted by arthropods. Zika virus, which is primarily spread by mosquitos, is part of a family of arboviruses known as “flaviviruses.” This group includes dengue virus, West Nile virus, and yellow fever virus, among others.

So why is so little known about Zika? Though the virus was discovered in 1947, it was not linked to any serious outbreaks of disease until quite recently.

“It was really in about 2007 that the virus started getting more attention. At that point it was introduced into Micronesia and caused a large outbreak there. And it proceeded to spread across the South Pacific,” says Lazear.

Though the virus spread rapidly, the symptoms of infection were relatively mild and flu-like. Many infected individuals didn’t show any symptoms, but of those that did the most common complaints included fever, headache, and a rash.

Then, in 2015 the virus was introduced to South America. That’s when doctors started noticing an association between the virus and something much more serious: birth defects.

“For Zika virus, the reason this is getting so much attention is because of its ability to cause birth defects, which I have to say is entirely unexpected. Based on what we know about the viruses related to Zika virus, there was no reason to think that Zika virus would cause birth defects,” says Lazear.

Only a small fraction of women infected with the virus have given birth to children with birth defects. Yet the evidence is mounting that Zika infection does lead to an increased risk that pregnant women will give birth to a child with birth defects including microcephaly, where babies are born with abnormally small heads. This evidence recently led the World Health Organization (WHO) to update its language on the matter, calling the link between Zika virus and birth defects a “scientific consensus.” There is also growing evidence linking Zika virus and a debilitating neurological disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome, though researchers have been aware of this relationship for some time.

Countries in infected areas are clearly concerned about Zika’s implications for pregnancy, even leading El Salvador down the dubious route of advising women against getting pregnant until 2018. Such a response can be understood in light of the scale of the epidemic (which is now an order of magnitude larger than any previous Zika outbreak) paired with the very little that researchers know about the virus.

As Myron Cohen, MD, UNC Chief of Infectious Disease, described in a recent “Chair’s Corner” podcast, “What relaxes our species and reassures our species is knowing the rules. The rules of an infection. The probability of a transmission event, the consequences of a transmission event, and the interventions that are possible to prevent, treat or cure disease.”

With Zika virus, we still don’t know many of the rules. But thanks in part to the ongoing work of a number of researchers at UNC, our knowledge of Zika virus is rapidly expanding, which will help the global community better deal with this epidemic.

Click here to listen to an episode of Public Health Behind the Scenes about the intersection of public health and Zika, produced by UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and Gillings Global Gateway.

Helen Lazear, PhD, is part of a team that recently developed a mouse model to study Zika virus.

Helen Lazear, PhD, is part of a team that recently developed a mouse model to study Zika virus.

Lazear and the rest of her team are working to answer some of the essential questions about the virology of Zika. “In my lab we’re interested in a couple of aspects of Zika virus. A lot of it is basic virology and pathogenesis work because nobody’s done a lot of research on this virus before. There’s a lot of really basic things we don’t know about how this virus infects cells, and how it replicates and spreads,” she says.

Just this month Lazear was the lead author on a paper in Cell Host & Microbe describing how she helped a team develop a new mouse model that can be infected with Zika virus in order to learn more about the virus. This model could eventually be used to test a Zika vaccine, or other treatments for infected individuals.

Other groups at UNC are interested in why Zika has emerged so suddenly. Ralph Baric, PhD, heads a lab interested in viral genetics. This group is interested in better understanding how the virus has evolved over time, and whether those evolutionary changes to the viral genome could have led to the current Zika outbreak.

Linking Zika and Dengue
In addition to virology research, Lazear’s group is working alongside UNC researchers with expertise in dengue virus to better understand how dengue immunity could change how Zika affects the body.

Dengue is the closest viral cousin to Zika. It is also the most prevalent mosquito-borne virus in the world and is common across much of the area affected by the current Zika epidemic. Dengue virus, of which there are four types, generally causes much more severe symptoms than the Zika virus (however, it is not known to cause birth defects).

If a person gets infected with one type of dengue, they develop an immunity to that strain for the rest of their life. But if they get infected with a different type of dengue, they can develop symptoms again—often more severe symptoms than they had during the first dengue infection.

Aravinda de Silva, PhD, heads a lab at UNC that studies dengue. He is concerned that Zika might cause similar adverse reactions in people with previous dengue exposure. Said de Silva at a recent conference on Zika hosted by the UNC Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases (IGHID).

“A lot of people that are dengue immune are getting exposed to Zika. And there may be immune interactions between dengue and Zika that might enhance disease. And the answer is even more complicated because you have to think about someone who’s had only one dengue infection and then they get Zika, so their second infection is Zika. Or someone who’s had multiple dengue infections, what happens if they get Zika versus someone who’s had a flavivirus vaccine?”

De Silva’s research suggests that previous infection with dengue could change, and potentially worsen, how Zika virus affects the body. The lab is also investigating the development of tools for diagnosing Zika, which is also complicated by the virus’s close relatedness to the widespread dengue virus. Because dengue and Zika are so similar, developing diagnostics that can reveal Zika infection, but not previous dengue infection can be tricky.

Elizabeth Stringer, MD, is an OB/GYN at UNC. Zika has been linked to causing microcephaly in infants.

Elizabeth Stringer, MD, is an OB/GYN at UNC. Zika has been linked to causing microcephaly in infants.

UNC faculty are also working to develop a way to track the effects of Zika by establishing ties with hospitals and clinics in affected areas. In March, a UNC group traveled to León, Nicaragua, in order to learn more about the local response to the outbreak. Elizabeth Stringer, MD, a Maternal and Fetal Medicine doctor, was one of the UNC researchers on the trip.

“We were looking at how their prenatal care is delivered and looking at how we could set up a cohort of pregnant women to study Zika virus,” says Stringer. “That means a group of patients that we follow throughout their pregnancy and then test for Zika at different intervals to see how many acquire the disease and how many fetuses get infected.”

A cohort like this is exactly what is needed to answer some of the most pressing questions about Zika. For example, such a cohort could reveal the likelihood of an infected mother passing the virus on to her fetus, and the likelihood that a Zika-infected fetus will develop birth defects.

These cohorts could also help answer another pressing question: could Zika virus be contributing to milder birth defects that have as of yet gone unnoticed? That’s an important question according to Matthew Collins, MD, PhD, an Infectious Disease Fellow at UNC who also went on the trip to León.

“Some of the key questions that are still noteworthy are spectrum— the possibility that microcephaly is at the severe end of a spectrum of adverse effects that a developing fetus may experience.” He continues, “we have a very low threshold for tolerance to adverse events surrounding pregnancy and rightfully so. So trying to understand the magnitude of that risk is a big outstanding question and we don’t quite know what that is.”

Already, reports are circulating that Zika infection is associated with other problems with fetal development and childbirth, such as blindness and premature birth. As we learn more about how Zika virus affects humans, potentially through pregnancy cohorts like this one, we will continue to learn what risks the virus poses to humans in the long-term.

A multidisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians at UNC is studying Zika.

A multidisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians at UNC is studying Zika.

A Multi-Departmental Approach
When asked how concerned people should be about the virus, Collins responded “with people, fear naturally comes from the unknown and there’s just not a lot of extensive, quality data about Zika right now.”

Fortunately, UNC is well-positioned to begin the process of changing that, by learning more about the Zika virus in order to combat the ongoing epidemic. Says Lazear,

“UNC really is a great place for Zika virus research because we have a lot of people from different disciplines and backgrounds that are relevant to the current outbreak. So we have a group of virologists, of infectious disease experts, experts in maternal and fetal medicine, public health, and vector-borne diseases. We are able to take advantage of a lot of varied expertise that’s all relevant to the current outbreak.”

This group of researchers is working across departmental lines to develop a better understanding of Zika, and many researchers are even modifying their own research goals to better answer questions about the virus.

This research will no doubt be used to improve the response to the outbreak in Latin America and the Caribbean. But according to Lazear, it will also be used to help us better understand how to deal with the next viral epidemic.

“The phenomenon of an Old World arbovirus being introduced to the New World and causing impacts on human health— this isn’t new. We saw this happen a few years ago when chikungunya virus was introduced into the Caribbean in 2013, we saw it with West Nile virus in 1999, dengue virus before that, and originally when yellow fever virus was introduced to the Western Hemisphere with the slave trade.”

She continues, “Today we’re talking about Zika virus, but the lessons about this virus can be informed from what we’ve learned from previous outbreaks, and will likely be able to be applied to future outbreaks as well.”

Partnership Supports Radiology in Malawi

Peter Shaba, third from left, is the acting head of the Radiography Programme at the Malawi College of Health Sciences. He has established an educational partnership with UNC's Division of Radiologic Science.

Peter Shaba, third from left, is the acting head of the Radiography Programme at the Malawi College of Health Sciences. He has established an educational partnership with UNC’s Division of Radiologic Science. UNC faculty from left to right: Joy Renner, Division Director; Lauren Noble; Andrew Woodward; Melissa Culp and Susan MacNeela.

By Brianna Cooper, Communications Intern, UNC Department of Allied Health Sciences

Imagine the typical day in the life of a radiologic science student. You are most likely envisioning the student in a lab learning to use new equipment under the watchful eye of the instructor. Or perhaps you would picture the student volunteering in a hospital, practicing skills on patients and learning new techniques from staff members. You imagine the student going home and studying textbooks and other materials for an upcoming exam.

If this is what you imagine when you think about the typical radiologic science student, you would be surprised to find that studying radiology looks a lot different in other parts of the world, like Malawi.

Being a radiology student at the Malawi College of Health Sciences means receiving theoretical knowledge because there is no lab where you can gain hands-on experience. It means not having the opportunity to practice your skills in the field, because hospitals are overcrowded and equipment is severely limited. Being a radiologic science student in Malawi means not having all the resources and materials you need because of financial barriers.

Peter Shaba is trying to change that.

On his first international visit, Shaba, the acting head of the Radiography Programme at the Malawi College of Health Sciences (MCHS), arrived in Chapel Hill to meet with faculty and students from the University of North Carolina’s Division of Radiologic Science, which is housed in the UNC School of Medicine’s UNC Department of Allied Health Sciences. Shaba’s visit was a part of a global, collaborative initiative to support radiology colleagues in Lilongwe, Malawi.

During his visit Shaba also discussed his current collaboration with the Division of Radiologic Science to establish an educational partnership with the Malawi College of Health Sciences’ Radiology Programme. Shaba connected with faculty, like Andrew Woodward, RT, Assistant Professor of Radiologic Science at UNC, and students in the classroom to gain insight into strategies for developing effective instructional design and delivery techniques for radiologic science.

Shaba said that spending time in the classroom was an important step to help him to see how the Radiologic Science Programme at MCHS could be improved, which is one of the goals of the partnership with the Division of Radiologic Science.
“The educational visit was a great experience and created a platform for improvement of the teaching and learning of radiography at MCHS,” said Shaba. “Through the class and lab instructional strategies I observed, I was able to take note of the things that we need to do so as to improve the services we deliver.”

UNC Radiologic Science students Katelyn Robertson and Jordan Black traveled with Andrew Woodward, RT, Assistant Professor of Radiologic Science, to Malawi to meet with Peter Shaba and give guest lectures to Malawian student technologists.

UNC Radiologic Science students Katelyn Robertson and Jordan Black traveled with Andrew Woodward, RT, Assistant Professor of Radiologic Science, to Malawi to meet with Peter Shaba and give guest lectures to Malawian student technologists.

UNC Students Grow from Malawi Experience
The educational partnership, which began in September 2013 after an initial site visit and with the guidance of UNC Project-Malawi, has three long-term bilateral goal initiatives. These include:

• Radiologist support
• Technologist and radiographer education and development for working technologists, faculty and students
• Biomedical engineering development for equipment maintenance

Since their initial site visit, students and faculty in the Division of Radiologic Science have maintained an integral role in providing educational resources to MCHS radiology students.

“Education is the key to an improved future,” said Woodward, when discussing the partnership. “The establishment of the partnership between the Malawi College of Health Sciences’ Radiography Programme and UNC’s Division of Radiologic Science is nothing less than an epic accomplishment for both institutions. The partnership will enable students and faculty from both institutions to engage in academic endeavors that will lead to personal and professional growth.”

As of 2015, six radiologic science students have traveled with faculty to Malawi, where they are required to give guest lectures to Malawian student technologists. Katelyn Robertson, a senior radiologic science major at UNC, said it was her desire to learn more about the health care system in one of the world’s most impoverished regions that originally drew her toward Malawi. She added that the scarcity of radiologic equipment available in Malawi inspired her to get involved in the mission to help improve health care services in the region.

“Seeing how Malawian’s manage as best they can with the limited resources they have really struck me. It truly teaches one to be grateful for what he or she has,” Robertson said. “Seeing this made me wish I could do something to help people of Malawi receive the health care they require, which is why I have gotten more involved with RAD-AID International since the trip.”

RAD-AID is a non-profit public service organization that aims to provide radiology resources to underdeveloped countries throughout the world. Robertson, who hopes to study health care administration or become a radiologic technologist after graduation, said her experience in Malawi has been crucial in helping her decide her future goals.

“I believe this trip has shaped me to be more culturally aware as a person and as a health care professional,” she said.

For another radiologic science major, UNC senior Jordan Black, the trip to Malawi was as educational as it was personal. He was struck by the way the hospital would make up for the lack of nursing staff by having family members provide for the patient’s personal care needs like bathing and feeding. Black said that his experiences in Malawi have inspired him to explore career options in international medicine after graduation.

“I was interested in the trip to Malawi because I have always dreamed of going to Africa, and I have passion for international medicine and learning about other cultures,” said Black. “The work ethic I saw in Malawi was something I will never forget. Seeing and working with different cultures is amazing and can be very rewarding. My goal is to one day spend time working around the world.”

Peter Shaba says next steps of the partnership include more development of the biomedical engineering goal for sustainable equipment maintenance in Malawi.

Peter Shaba says next steps of the partnership include more development of the biomedical engineering goal for sustainable equipment maintenance in Malawi.

Improving Radiologic Science in Malawi
Much like the students in the exchange program, Shaba said he also benefited from witnessing first-hand the way the health care system operates in a foreign country.

“My experience in the USA was great,” Shaba said. “Professionally, I learned a lot of things for the improvement of teaching Radiologic Science at MCHS. I was also able to appreciate a different environment from what I am used to seeing.”

Shaba said that this visit was only one of several activities taking place to help ensure that the educational partnership between UNC’s Division of Radiologic Science and the MCHS Radiology Program would continue to grow and fulfill its goals. Next steps include more development of the biomedical engineering goal for sustainable equipment maintenance in Malawi. Additionally, more growth needs to be achieved on radiologist support—possibly via tele-radiology for consulting and further support of the radiology trainee program at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe.

While in Chapel Hill, Shaba and Woodward also collaborated on a presentation for the RAD-AID conference in Washington, D.C. Shaba and Woodward’s presentation focused on strategies for implementing radiology in resource-limited regions. Shaba said he appreciated how the conference shined a light on the lack of sufficient radiologic equipment in less economically fortunate regions like Malawi.
“I was also able to appreciate the effort and good work that RAD-AID International is putting in making sure resource-limited countries, Malawi inclusive, can afford radiological services,” he said.

Van Drives Nursing, Research

UNC School of Nursing faculty Marianne Cockroft, far left, and Wanda Wazenegger, far right, join nursing students Katie Steinheber and Mairo Bori to provide clinical care to Wake County residents.

UNC School of Nursing faculty Marianne Cockroft, far left, and Wanda Wazenegger, far right, join nursing students Katie Steinheber and Mairo Bori to provide clinical care to Wake County residents.

By Morag MacLachlan, Communications Director, UNC’s Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases (IGHID) and Kelly Kirby, Communications Director, UNC School of Nursing

A white nondescript van is making the rounds in central North Carolina bringing clinical care, experiential education and reliable research results along for the ride.

Healy is the mobile health van owned by the Division of Infectious Diseases within the UNC School of Medicine. Initially purchased in 2010 to meet study volunteers in the community, the van is now rented to other departments and schools at UNC. The School of Nursing sets off in the van each Tuesday to see chronically ill, low-income patients in Wake County.

“For us, it’s been fantastic,” says Becky Sidden, executive director of Western Wake Crisis Ministry in Apex. “We were able to provide our clients with food and financial assistance, but we were unable to provide health screenings until this partnership.”

Western Wake Crisis Ministry serves 703 households or 2,310 individuals in Wake County. A survey conducted in December 2015 revealed that chronic illnesses, like diabetes, depression and seizures, were one of the top reasons residents sought financial assistance through Western Wake Crisis Ministry.

This nurse-led, nurse-run clinic provides a free health assessment as well as educational materials to help patients manage their own health needs. With regular checkups and better disease management, chronically ill patients can improve their long-term health outlook and avoid costly emergency room visits and ambulance services.

“We provide blood pressure and blood sugar screenings as well as education on chronic disease self-management,” says Mairo Bori, BSN, RN, who is earning her master’s degree in nursing. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity for clients to learn about their health. I have really enjoyed giving back to the community.”

Nursing students also gain exposure to community nursing and have learned that many clients relish the opportunity to ask health questions without the pressure that their provider needs to rush off to the next appointment.

“This is my first experience with community nursing and it has given me insight into the needs of the community we are serving,” says Katie Steinheber, RN, who is studying to become a nurse practitioner. “The educational aspect is huge because we are teaching the clients about self-management. And we have time to listen to them because we are not facing the normal health provider time constraints patients often face in a doctor’s office.”

The van allows the Division of Infectious Diseases to reach study volunteers in the community, improving the validity of research results.

The van allows the Division of Infectious Diseases to reach study volunteers in the community, improving the validity of research results.

Reliable Research Results
The Division of Infectious Diseases originally purchased the van in 2010 to make it easier for research participants to stay on study. Having timely data also maintains the validity of research results.

“Every research center needs this van. Our data scores would be so much lower without it,” says Becky Straub, RN, MPH, a clinical research nurse in the Division of Infectious Diseases. “People need to get to work or their car breaks down, which would prevent them from being able to come into Chapel Hill for a study visit. But we can take the van and go to them. We get the data, and they can get right back to living their lives.”

The non-descript nature of the van and the blinds on its windows mean Straub and other research staff can meet a study volunteer out in the community without compromising confidentiality. This was especially helpful during a study that measured liver enzyme levels, says Erin Hoffman, clinical research coordinator in the Division of Infectious Diseases.

“We had a healthy study volunteer whose levels were high, so we had to do a weekly blood draw,” Hoffman says. “It would have been impossible to ask this person to drive to Chapel Hill each week. We were able to drive to her and do a quick blood draw on the van without attracting any unwanted attention. This was not only more convenient for her, but it was also cost-effective for us because we didn’t have to book a space in the hospital to draw her blood each week.”

The majority of studies done by the Division focus on treating people living with HIV. Hoffman and fellow clinical research coordinator Miriam Chicurel-Bayard, RN, will often travel the 60 miles southeast of Chapel Hill to Dunn, NC, to connect with study volunteers at CommWellHealth. Data collected on the van has had a global impact. The van was used for the domestic arm of the groundbreaking START Trial, which showed that immediately starting people diagnosed with HIV on antiretroviral therapy improved both their short- and long-term health, and made them less infectious than delaying beginning anti-HIV medications until their T-cell count dropped. The START trial results prompted the World Health Organization to change its treatment guidelines in September 2015.

“The main point of research is to collect good data,” says Chicurel-Bayard. “This van allows us to do just that and it gives our generous study volunteers options. People appreciate options, and we are happy to offer them that flexibility and understanding because after all, they are volunteering.”

For more information about Healy, the mobile health van, visit www.researchvan.com.

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MD Magazine Grows Strategic Alliance Partnership with UNC’s Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases

MD_2015_SAP_Seal_72dpiMD Magazine®, the leading online and print source of physician news, conference coverage and peer-to-peer discussion, today announced that it has expanded its Strategic Alliance Partners (SAP) program with the addition of the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases (IGHID).

The collaboration will benefit MD Magazine readers and SAP partner page visitors by providing them with rich, infectious disease content such as research developments, video interviews, articles, and more from UNC’s IGHID. The mission of IGHID is to harness the full resources of UNC-Chapel Hill and its partners to solve global health problems, reduce the burden of disease, and cultivate the next generation of global health leaders.

“IGHID is a leader in HIV research and Institute investigators are presently researching emerging infections such as Ebola and the Zika virus,” said Mike Hennessy Jr., president of Michael J. Hennessy Associates Inc., which publishes MD Magazine. “Together, we’ll provide MD Magazine readers and website visitors with news and insight from the forefront of IGHID‘s infectious disease research and advancements so physicians can gather additional vision into offering superior patient care.”

IGHID Director Dr. Myron Cohen added, “Our clinicians and researchers at UNC are leaders in the field, investigating and treating infectious diseases old (HIV) and new (Zika). These diseases intersect with other specialties like cardiology and OB/GYN. Our partnership with MD Magazine will introduce our faculty’s work to a broader audience.”

MD Magazine created the SAP program to share scientific and medical innovations in an open exchange of information among trusted peers. With a goal of better patient care for physicians, the program focuses on topics ranging from treatment decisions to best practices relative to practice management strategies to much more.

About MD Magazine
MD Magazine is a comprehensive clinical news and information portal that provides physicians and other health care professionals with up-to-date specialty- and disease-specific resources designed to help them provide better care to patients. Readers have access to breaking news, video interviews with physician experts, in-depth conference coverage, finance and practice management updates, insight and analysis from physician contributors and other multimedia resources. MD Magazine is part of Michael J. Hennessy Associates Inc., a full-service health care communications company offering education, research and medial media.

About University of North Carolina’s Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases
The mission of UNC’s Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases is to harness the full resources of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and its partners to solve global health problems, reduce the burden of disease, and cultivate the next generation of global health leaders. The Institute is a leader in HIV research, earning the journal Science’s prestigious designation “Breakthrough of the Year” in 2011 for proving the theory of treatment as prevention. In 2015, the Institute launched Qura Therapeutics with GSK – the first academic-industry partnership dedicated to curing HIV. Institute investigators are also researching emerging infections including Ebola and Zika virus.

Special Presentation: Unintended Consequences in the Ebola Epidemic

Rick Sacra, MD

Rick Sacra, MD

Rick Sacra, MD, will be presenting “Unintended Consequences in the Ebola Epidemic” on Thursday, April 28 at noon in Bioinformatics 1131. Dr. Sacra has served as a medical missionary in Liberia since 1995 at the ELWA Hospital. He serves with the non-denominational Christian mission group SIM. He has provided patient care; training for nurses, medical students and interns; and leadership development. He also initiated the founding of ELWA’s HIV/AIDS counseling and treatment program.

Dr. Sacra was the Acting Medical Director at ELWA Hospital from 2008 to 2010. For family reasons, he currently divides his time between the US and Liberia, spending about a month every quarter in Liberia. During his time in the US, he teaches residents at the Family Health Center of Worcester in Massachusetts and serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UMass.

Since recovering from Ebola Virus Disease in 2014, Dr. Sacra has returned to Liberia for five additional trips to assist the team at the ELWA Hospital, run by SIM. He hopes to help begin a Family Medicine Residency Program in Liberia.

An informal reception will follow Dr. Sacra’s presentation.

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