skip to main content
return to Gazette front page about the Gazette publication schedule links complete contents search the Gazette; browse back issues
more stories news briefs faculty and staff news photos
More Stories

UNC's research revenues reach an all-time high

Efforts of many ensure campus is ready for students

University working to preserve historic beauty of Polk Place

   

CONTACT THE GAZETTE:
(919) 962-7124
FAX (919) 962-2279
gazette@unc.edu

The Gazette staff is always looking for ideas for
interesting feature stories.
Do you have one to share?

University Gazette

bullet Annual State of the University address set for Sept. 6
bullet NC TEACH lands $2.7 million grant to train teachers
bullet U.S. News rates UNC national leader in accessibility
bullet Harkey appointed director of  highway research center
bullet Carolina North committee studies preservation of open space
bullet Make the pledge to try a new way to campus
bullet Photo: Global Exchange
bullet Educational Assistance Program changes take effect for fall semester
bullet $2 million gift supports UNC poverty center
bullet Mozart, jazz, among fall music events on campus
bullet Statins may inhibit progression of multiple sclerosis

bullet UNC researchers find way to stop autoimmune disease
bullet Photo: A new image
bullet UNC study identifies molecular process underlying leukemia
bullet Two new library locations open for fall semester
bullet ArtiFACTS: Statues capture essence of athletes in action

bullet FYI Research: RAMSeS debuts to aid with electronic grant filing

bullet Campus invited to celebrate SILS 75th anniversary

bullet Learnit@unc.edu: Computer-Based Training expands course offerings

bullet UNC represented at national AHEC conference

Annual State of the University address set for Sept. 6

Chancellor James Moeser will give his sixth annual State of the University Address Sept. 6, at 3 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Frank Porter Graham Student Union. Faculty, staff, students and community members are invited to attend.

This year’s speech is expected to focus on the University’s pursuit of excellence in academics, research and public service. Topics will include the current state of graduation rates, an issue of particular interest to the University’s trustees in recent months, as well as the future of research at Carolina.

Among other topics, the chancellor is also expected to discuss globalization, Carolina North, the University’s future technology needs, and the final recommendations of the Task Force on Engagement with North Carolina announced during last year’s speech.

Return to Top

NC TEACH lands $2.7 million grant to train teachers

NC TEACH (North Carolina Teachers of Excellence for All CHildren), an alternative teacher preparation program administered by the 16-campus University of North Carolina system, has received a $2.7-million Transition to Teaching grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Transition to Teaching program supports projects that recruit and retain highly qualified mid-career professionals and recent college graduates as teachers for high-need schools in high-need local school districts.

NC TEACH will use the five-year federal grant to expand and strengthen its current services for lateral-entry teachers and provide a new focus on identified high-need school districts in North Carolina.

“We are thrilled about this opportunity to expand our services and, more specifically, to focus on high-need districts in North Carolina,” Dorothy Mebane, executive director of NC TEACH, said.

“This award reflects the tremendous ongoing commitment of UNC’s 15 Schools of Education to produce more teachers, the strong vision of UNC President Erskine Bowles, and the collective efforts of universities and school districts to find and retain high-quality teachers for all students.”

First offered in 1999 in collaboration with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (DPI), NC TEACH has since prepared about 1,500 new classroom teachers across the state. An online component was added in 2003 through the joint involvement of UNC, DPI and LEARN NC, based at Carolina’s School of Education.

The expanded program, to be called NC TEACH II, will work directly with school districts to develop additional satellite host site locations, offer increased access to the NC TEACH OnLine model, and in collaboration with LEARN NC, develop online content courses for middle grades and secondary science and math lateral-entry teachers. Initially, four campuses — Carolina, East Carolina University, UNC Pembroke and Western Carolina University — will participate in NC TEACH II, and additional sites may be added.

NC TEACH II will recruit and prepare 100 to 125 additional lateral-entry teachers per year with a focus on math, science, special populations and other licensure areas needed by participating school districts.

For more information about NC TEACH, visit www.ncteach.net.

Return to Top

U.S. News rates UNC national leader in accessibility

The University remains the national leader among public universities in promoting student accessibility, according to the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings.

Among public universities, Carolina ranked fifth for the sixth consecutive year in the U.S. News rankings. The University of California at Berkeley ranked first, followed by the universities of Michigan and Virginia (tied for second), and the University of California at Los Angeles at fourth. These five campuses have taken turns holding the top five spots for the past several years.

Overall, Carolina tied for 27th — the same as last year — among public and private campuses with Tufts University and the University of Southern California. Other top publics ranked between 21st (Berkeley) and 26th (UCLA).

UNC ranked first among public campuses for the second consecutive year in the magazine’s “Great Schools, Great Prices” list, based on academic quality and the net cost of attendance for a student who receives the average level of need-based financial aid.

These rankings are part of the annual U.S. News “America’s Best Colleges” issue and come when UNC is enrolling its third class of Carolina Covenant Scholars. The program, a first among major public universities, guarantees a debt-free education to qualified low-income students.

Several prestigious public and private universities and at least one state (Wisconsin) have followed Carolina’s lead in creating similar programs.

“We continue to benchmark our progress against the critical University priorities that will determine Carolina’s future success and best benefit the people of North Carolina,” said Chancellor James Moeser. “Student accessibility and faculty resources are two examples of areas in which the U.S. News analysis is helpful in gauging our overall position and the strength of our positive momentum.”

Moeser said Carolina was committed to maintaining its national leadership position among public campuses in providing access to qualified students and continuing aggressive efforts to improve faculty compensation and retention.

The new rankings appear in the 2007 “America’s Best Colleges” guidebook, posted at www.usnews.com. The Aug. 28 edition and the guidebook hit newsstands Aug. 21.

The rankings formula considers responses to surveys about academic excellence from peer campus presidents, provosts or admissions officials. Objective data covers student retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rates and alumni giving.

Faculty resources is the category of particular interest to UNC. Carolina held steady — dropping from 39th to 40th — among publics and privates after advancing a whopping 32 places the prior two years. It was still UNC’s second best showing in the past seven years; the lowest was 71st twice during that period.

In faculty resources, U.S. News examined snapshots of class size (fewer than 20 students and 50 students or more); average faculty compensation in 2004-05 and 2005-06; proportion of full-time faculty and with the highest degree in their field; and student-faculty ratio.

Another category — least debt among students — listed UNC 18th among publics and 22nd overall, with 34 percent of all graduating seniors posting an average debt of $13,801 in 2005.

In past years, less than a quarter of UNC’s graduating students accumulated debt.

Since 1999, when Carolina enacted a campus-based tuition increase, 35 percent of that revenue has been dedicated to providing grants for students with need. Every needy student received a grant that covered the cost of a campus tuition hike.

In other U.S. News rankings, Kenan-Flagler Business School tied for fifth among undergraduate business degree programs.

Kenan-Flagler was third among publics. In specialty areas, Kenan-Flagler was fourth for management and tied for fifth for marketing. U.S. News also included UNC in a category called “programs to look for,” highlighting outstanding academic programs that lead to student success.

Return to Top

Harkey appointed director of  highway research center

David L. Harkey has been named director of the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center.

Harkey
Harkey

For more than 20 years, Harkey has applied transportation engineering principles and research evaluation methods to improve highway safety for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists in the areas of traffic operations, roadway geometrics and design, and roadside design.

His work has included the development and teaching of safety intervention programs for engineers.

Harkey, who has served as the interim director since January and previously served as deputy director, has been with the center since 1993. He was the director of the traffic engineering and safety division of Scientex Corp. prior to joining UNC.

“I’m delighted that David has agreed to take over permanent leadership of the Highway Safety Research Center,” said Tony Waldrop, vice chancellor for research and economic development. “The reputation of the center and the University will benefit from his strong leadership.”

Harkey earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil and transportation engineering at UNC-Charlotte. He is working on a doctorate in civil engineering at N.C. State University.

He has conducted numerous studies for private and government agencies including the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, Federal Highway Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

As interim director of the center, he launched an international initiative with the Institute for Road Safety Research in the Netherlands that includes a staff exchange program and the development of a joint international research consortium.

For more than 40 years, the Highway Safety Research Center has been a leader in investigating and helping shape the field of transportation safety.

The center’s mission is to improve the safety, security, access and efficiency of all surface transportation modes through a balanced, interdisciplinary program of research, evaluation and information dissemination.

Return to Top

Carolina North committee studies preservation
of open space

Open space and the value of preserving it turned into an open question for members of the Carolina North Leadership Advisory Committee at its Aug. 24 meeting.

Everyone agrees that keeping as much of the 1,000-acre property in a natural state is a worthy goal. But University officials say they will not allow that goal to be made into a permanent mandate.

Jack Evans, named as executive director of Carolina North last month by Chancellor James Moeser, made the case that University officials have demonstrated their commitment to land preservation with a concept plan for Carolina North, now on the shelf, that called for developing only about 25 percent of the land over the next 50 years.

University Trustee Roger Perry pointed to main campus as further proof of the University’s commitment to preserving natural space.

When the development plan is completed, Perry said, the University will add to main campus about the same amount of square footage as is now planned to be built at Carolina North over five decades. At the same time, Perry said, the University will return 10 acres of former parking lots into open space.

“We’ve got the best record around,” Perry said.

Chapel Hill Town Council Member Bill Strom told Perry that square footage is not the issue for most community members. To accommodate future needs, he said, the University should be able to build up rather than out. The community, Strom said, wants the University to “permanently preserve the footprint.”

“The community is asking for certainty, Roger,” Strom said.

“And I don’t think we can give that,” Perry said.

The issue emerged as group members resumed their review of a matrix of guiding principles put forward by the various entities represented on the board. They are the Horace Williams Citizens Committee (HWCC), the advisory group appointed by the Town of Chapel Hill; the University, the Town of Carrboro; Orange County; and the Chapel-Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce.

The HWCC, under the principles for “Natural Areas/Parks and Recreation Facilities,” listed as its first principle: “Preserve in perpetuity the maximum amount of open space possible with a goal of preserving 75 percent of the Horace Williams property as stated by the University.”

University officials had identified the section as an area of current disagreement that needed to be discussed to develop the principle.

Perry said the only problem with HWCC’s statement was the phrase “in perpetuity.”

Perry said the 75 percent of land, as already agreed, would not be developed for many, many decades. However, Perry said, there is no way that anybody today can predict what the University’s needs will be 50 years from now. Given that, University trustees are unwilling to tie the hands of future leaders with a document that states the land can never be developed.

“Why should we make that decision today?” Perry asked. “We don’t’ have the right to do that, but irrespective of that, we won’t do that.”

Evans also pointed out the areas of natural beauty that exist on main campus, from the botanical garden to McCorkle Place and Polk Place. These areas demonstrate the University’s appreciation of preserving open space, Evans said. But to assert that 75 percent of Carolina North had to be preserved in perpetuity, he said, “sounds quite rigid.”

The discussion, which emerged as the dominant issue of the two-hour meeting, ended with Etta Pisano, a radiology and biomedical engineering professor, declaring “I think realistically we will never reach consensus on this issue.”

Pisano said she understands both sides, but as a research scientist, she experiences the problem of finding space for people to conduct their work.

Ken Broun, the committee facilitator, said the discussion was productive, even if agreement was not reached and may never be reached.

In response to Pisano, Broun said, “We don’t have to give up, but I probably agree with you.” Broun said he could see the possibility of an executive summary that offers two points of view on the subject.

In other discussion, Douglas Crawford-Brown, head of the Carolina Environmental Program, seized upon an exchange on how Carolina North will affect air quality as an opportunity to encourage the University to be a leader in promoting innovating strategies to promote clean air.

At the same time, Crawford-Brown said it might not be possible to assert that Carolina North would have “no negative impact on the quality of air on Chapel Hill,” as the HWCC group called for as one of its principles.

Crawford-Brown added that the burden of preserving air quality is one that should not be borne by Carolina North alone, but shared by the broader community.

 The group will hold its next meeting Sept. 7.

Discussion will pick up on other principles related to open space and recreation, and as time permits, move on to transportation, a topic that has already received considerable attention in past meetings.

Return to Top

Make the pledge to try a new way to campus

Again this year, the University community, along with the rest of the Triangle, is invited to participate in the Smart Commute Challenge.

The Smart Commute initiative offers prizes, discounts to local merchants and incentives to encourage commuters to try an alternative form of transportation at least once prior to Sept. 30. Commuters are asked to sign a pledge — online or at a Smart Commute event — that they will walk, bike, bus, park-and-ride, carpool, vanpool or telecommute rather than driving a car into work on at least one occasion prior to Sept. 30.

Those wishing to participate are asked to sign a pledge online at www.smartcommutechallenge.org.  

Current CAP permit holders and all who already commute to campus via an alternate mode of transportation are eligible to sign as well. 

More information is available at 485-7475.

Sponsored by the Triangle Transit Authority, the Triangle Air Awareness Coalition and local employers like UNC, the Smart Commute Challenge began five years ago. More than 100 employers in Orange, Wake and Durham counties are participating this year. There will be a Smart Commute event in the lobby of UNC Hospitals on Sept. 12 over the lunch period and another in front of Rams Head Dining Hall.

The date for the Rams Head event has not been finalized.

Return to Top

Moeser-Sen

GLOBAL EXCHANGE Chancellor James Moeser, right, hosted a luncheon honoring His Excellency Ambassador Ronen Sen, India’s ambassador to the United States. Moeser, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bernadette Gray-Little and faculty and administrators from several areas of the University engaged in a discussion with Sen about opportunities for strategic partnerships between UNC and India’s academic institutions, governmental research institutions and businesses. The discussion focused on four key areas: study abroad, public health, Kenan-Flagler Business School and economic development and technology transfer.

Return to Top

Educational Assistance Program changes take effect
for fall semester

Effective this semester, the Office of State Personnel has approved revisions to the University’s Educational Assistance Policy and Procedures.

The Educational Assistance Program allows department management to provide reimbursement and/or time away from work to its permanent employees for academic coursework that is work-related and of benefit to both the employee and the University. Courses may be taken at any accredited academic institution.

In cases where department management cannot provide reimbursement, a limited pool of University-wide funds is also available. The most any individual employee may be reimbursed from this fund is $500 per fiscal year. (Department-funded reimbursements are not limited to $500.) University-wide funds may be applied both to work-related and non-related coursework.

Highlights of the changes to the policy and procedures are:

bullet The Revised Educational Assistance Request Form has been customized for the University’s approval and tracking processes and also eliminates the need for the “Petition to the Employee Forum for Reimbursement” form.

bullet There are two textbook reimbursement options, one in which department management may reimburse all or part of the cost of textbooks for work-related coursework for an employee — with the textbooks remaining the property of the department - and one in which a pool of up to $2,500 in University-wide funds is available for work-related or non-related coursework, limited to no more than $100 per fiscal year. If reimbursed by University-wide funds, the employee retains the textbooks.

bullet The policy clarifies that academic courses that are not directly work-related but are taken as part of a degree-seeking program of study that is work-related will qualify for educational assistance reimbursement for either department or University-wide funds.

bullet Educational assistance requests for extended paid educational leave, exceptions to the approved course requirements, and “at agency request” designations must be pre-approved by Benefit Program Administration in the Office of Human Resources to ensure compliance with the policy.

Carefully review the policy for complete provisions and requirements at hr.unc.edu/Data/benefits/tuitionprograms/educationalassistance. If you have questions regarding the Educational Assistance Policy, call Chris Chiron, policy administrator, Employee Services (843-1870 ) or e-mail chiron@unc.edu.

Return to Top

$2 million gift supports UNC poverty center

Michael Cucchiara and Marty Hayes of Chapel Hill have pledged a $2 million gift to support the goal of permanently endowing the operations and expenses of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, directed by former Sen. John Edwards, at the University’s School of Law.

Cucchiara and Hayes and the School of Law view the $2 million pledge as the lead gift for an ongoing endowment campaign that will help solidify the UNC center as a nationally renowned, nonpartisan academic center that examines ways to combat poverty, particularly as it relates to the working poor.

“This wonderful example of generosity and philanthropy will allow the center to continue exploring the many facets of poverty and keep these important issues in the public eye for the decades to come,” said Edwards, a 1977 graduate from the School of Law. “Because of this extraordinary gift, the center will continue to serve as a beacon to experts around the country and be a proud part of UNC’s longstanding tradition of academic excellence.”

Jack Boger, dean of the School of Law, said the gift will bolster the center’s ability to carry out its mission to investigate the causes, consequences and solutions of poverty.

“We are deeply grateful for this generous gift in support of the center’s work and objectives,” Boger said. “The endowment will give the center crucial resources and flexibility to carry out its important work.”

Cucchiara and Hayes have shown a keen interest in all of the center’s programs examining the issues related to the working poor over the past year. As regular attendees of center conferences and seminars, they have been intimately involved with the center’s work since its inception last year.

“For too long, the issues facing the working poor have not received the attention they deserve,” said Cucchiara. “That is why we are proud to join Sen. Edwards, the leadership of UNC and the law school to ensure that there will always be a permanent academic forum for the best minds in the state and the nation to address the issues of poverty, work and opportunity.”

The Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity brings together scholars, policymakers, lawyers, community leaders and students to further research and policymaking on issues relating to poverty, work and opportunity. Established in February 2005, the center supports monthly panels of experts, hosts discussions and conferences and recently published the proceedings from its Summit on Poverty.

The center’s first program of the 2006-07 academic year will be a panel, titled “Katrina Revisited: What We Can Learn from the One Year Anniversary,” on Sept. 8 at noon in the Frank Porter Graham Student Union’s Great Hall.

More information on the center is available at www.law.unc.edu/povertycenter.

Return to Top

Mozart, jazz, among fall music events on campus

Brentano Quartet

Members of the Brentano Quartet, are, from left, Misha Armory, viola; Serena Canin, violin; Mark Steinberg, violin; Nina Maria Lee, cello.

The University music department will offer performances this fall ranging from Mozart to jazz, and from a percussion concerto to a student-produced comic opera.

The department’s 2006-07 season will begin with September Prelude, the Triangle’s annual Festival of Chamber Music. Presented by UNC, Duke Performances and the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild, the festival will feature performances from Sept. 8 to 10 in Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill.

UNC’s installment, on Sept. 9, will feature Chapel Hill native and violinist Jennifer Curtis and, from the North Carolina Symphony, principal harpist Anita Burroughs-Price and principal cellist Bonnie Thron.

Faculty musicians from UNC and East Carolina University will join them in a recital of music by composers Fauré, Debussy and Ravel. General admission tickets for the 8 p.m. concert in Memorial Hall are $15 for the public, $10 for UNC students, faculty and staff. Call the Memorial Hall box office at 843-3333.

UNC will host more than 100 concerts from September through April, in Hill Hall Auditorium, Memorial Hall and other campus venues. Updated information and the complete season calendar are available at music.unc.edu, or by calling the music department at 962-1039.

“Our new concert season showcases the best of our faculty, students and guests in a wide range of classical music and jazz,” said Tim Carter, music department professor and chair. “I can’t wait to hear my colleague Lynn Glassock’s new percussion concerto. I am delighted to welcome our new voice teachers Jeanne Fischer and Valentin Lanzrein, and any student group that can produce Mozart’s wonderful comic opera, ‘Così fan tutte,’ deserves high praise indeed.”

Tickets for music department events at Memorial Hall are sold at the box office on Cameron Avenue, 843-3333. Tickets for all other events are available at the door or by calling the music department office at 962-1039.

Evening concerts will start at 7:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with some exceptions. Check the website or local calendar listings for updated information, or call 962-1039.

Return to Top

Statins may inhibit progression of multiple sclerosis

Scientists from the University have established how statins — cholesterol-lowering drugs — inhibit inflammation and nerve cell damage caused by multiple sclerosis.

Preliminary research has shown that multiple sclerosis (MS) patients taking statins with their standard drug regimen develop less nerve cell damage over time than MS patients on standard therapy. Understanding the precise mechanisms by which statins fight multiple sclerosis is an important step toward approving the commonly used drugs for MS treatment, said Silva Markovic-Plese, associate professor of neurology, immunology and microbiology in the School of Medicine.

In tests performed on blood samples from people with relapse-remitting MS, statins shut down several inflammatory processes. The statins inhibited the formation of immune-system cells called lymphocytes and monocytes, which cause inflammation by attacking the body’s nerve cells.

“When we compared the effects of statins to well-understood MS therapies such as interferon, an anti-inflammatory, statins were equal if not stronger in some aspects,” Markovic-Plese said. The researchers also examined blood samples from healthy people.

The Myelin Project, a private research organization, funded part of the research.

Inflammation is the driving force behind MS, a disease in which immune cells attack the central nervous system at multiple sites. The attacks cause inflammation that damages the protective coating that insulates nerves and helps transmit nerve signals. The damage worsens as MS progresses, and patients lose the capability to control neurological functions such as vision, speech and walking.

In the study, statins prevented inflammation by suppressing several genes that produce cytokines, secreted proteins that send messages regulating inflammation and the immune system. Statins also prevented the immune system from creating cells that damage nerve tissue.

“This study gives us a better understanding of what will happen when MS patients take statins,” Markovic-Plese said. “Now we have some markers to follow in patients who take this medication, which will help us detect patients who respond to treatment.”

Co-authors include Jianping Jin, Monica Montes, Danuta Sujkowski, Yunan Tang and Jennifer Smrtka, all of  UNC; Timothy Vollmer of the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, Ariz.; Shailendra Giri and Inderjit Singh of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston; and Xueyan Peng, of Yale University.

Return to Top

UNC researchers find way to stop autoimmune disease

Skin is our first line of defense against infection. But people with a rare, life-threatening autoimmune disease called pemphigus vulgaris lack that protection because their immune system attacks the proteins that hold skin cells together. They develop severe blisters and raw sores as the top layer of their skin falls apart, leaving them extremely vulnerable to infection.

The development of drugs that completely suppress the immune system offered a lifeline to patients with pemphigus vulgaris (PV) and other autoimmune disorders, but the drugs themselves can be lethal and often cause serious side effects.

Now, researchers at the University have found a safer, more effective way to treat PV patients. In mice, the researchers used a known compound to turn off the signals that trigger skin damage without suppressing the immune system. Similar drugs being developed for human use could offer a potential treatment for PV, the researchers said.

The results appeared in the Aug. 22 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was funded the National Institutes of Health.

“Even if we can’t block the immune response, if we can understand the mechanisms behind the damage it causes, we can block that damage,” said David S. Rubenstein, associate professor in the department of dermatology in the School of Medicine and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Targeting these specific events in the cell could enable us to more effectively and safely treat patients.”

Rubenstein has previously shown an enzyme called p38 is part of the mechanism by which pemphigus vulgaris autoantibodies cause damage. Autoantibodies are immune-system cells that attack the body’s own tissues.

In a mouse model of pemphigus vulgaris, the researchers prevented blistering and other signs of the disease by injecting a drug that inhibits the p38 enzyme.

Tests showed that the p38 inhibitor drug didn’t prevent autoantibodies from binding to the skin cells. Instead, it prevented them from damaging the skin as they normally do. The drug stopped a series of cell-signaling events that lead to the loss of adhesion or “stickiness” between skin cells. Thus, it stops the disease without affecting the immune system.

“There are a number of companies developing inhibitors of the p38 enzyme for treating rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis,” Rubenstein said. “Our study suggests that those same drugs might be valuable in treating pemphigus vulgaris.”

In the two groups that received p38 inhibitor treatment, almost no mice showed clinical signs of pemphigus vulgaris.

School of Medicine co-authors include Paula Berkowitz, research analyst; Peiqui Hu, research assistant professor; Luis A. Diaz, professor;  Zhi Liu, associate professor; all of the department of dermatology; and Simon J. Warren, assistant professor in the departments of dermatology and pathology.

Return to Top

Siemens gift

A NEW IMAGE
Randy Hill, center, senior vice president at Siemens Medical Solutions, chats with Ashley Clark, left, a 2005 Division of Radiologic Science graduate, and Etta Pisano, vice dean for academic affairs of the School of Medicine. Behind the group is part of instructional medical equipment valued at $290,000 donated recently to the UNC School of Medicine by Siemens Medical Solutions to help train medical imaging professionals.

Return to Top

UNC study identifies molecular process underlying leukemia

New research from the University has identified a molecular process in cells that is crucial to the development of two common leukemias. The findings help explain how fundamental cell processes go awry during cancer development and represent a first step toward new, targeted treatments for leukemia.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) develop when certain chromosomal abnormalities disrupt the genes that control blood cell formation. Without the proper instructions from these genes, blood cells produced by bone marrow never fully mature; these immature cells flood the body.

The research was led by Yi Zhang, professor of biochemistry and biophysics in the School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Zhang is also a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

UNC co-authors include postdoctoral researchers Yuki Okada and Qi Jiang, and Lineberger Cancer Center researcher Lishan Su. Other authors are Margot Lemieux and Lucie Jeanotte from the Center for Research at Hotel-Dieu Medical Center of Quebec, in Montreal.

The researchers showed how a fusion of proteins created by flawed chromosomes can trigger leukemia development. The study also identified an enzyme’s important role in this process. The results were published online Aug. 20 and will appear in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

The study examined chromosomal translocation, in which a fragment of a chromosome breaks off and joins another. Chromosomes are the cellular structures that carry DNA. Translocation along chromosomes can result in the generation of fusion proteins that often “misregulate” specific genes, including genes that can cause leukemia, and is a common cause of leukemia.

The most common chromosome translocations found in leukemia patients involve the mixed lineage leukemia gene, MLL. One of the fusion proteins that partners with MLL in leukemia is AF10.

AF10 has been shown to fuse with another protein, CALM, in patients with leukemia.

Zhang and his colleagues showed that the CALM-AF10 fusion is “necessary and sufficient” for cellular transformation to leukemia in a mouse model of the disease. They also discovered that the fusion overactivates (also called upregulation) the gene HoxA5. Moreover, upregulation of the HoxA5 gene is necessary for cellular transformation to leukemia, the study shows.

Overactive Hox genes are known to play a role in cancer, Zhang said. The researchers also identified an enzyme, hDOT1L, as important for upregulating gene expression by the CALM-AF10 fusion protein. Having demonstrated the role of hDOT1L in leukemia development of two different fusion proteins, the Zhang lab is exploring the possibility of developing drugs that target the hDOT1L enzyme.

Return to Top

Two new library locations open for fall semester

Two library service points have relocated.

The Kenan Chemistry Library has moved from Venable Hall to make way for demolition.

The new Chemistry Library location is at the south entrance of Wilson Library on South Road, facing the Bell Tower.

The Chemistry Library joins the Zoology Library in the same space until the completion of the new Venable building, expected to be ready for occupancy in 2010.

Call the Chemistry Library staff at 962-1188 or 962-2264, or e-mail  chemlib@listserv.unc.edu.

The maps reference service has moved from the Wilson Library to the Davis Library Reference Department. 

Also transferred to Davis are parts of the maps collection; remaining maps will be retrieved from the Wilson Library upon patron request.

This change enables the library to provide maps assistance in the evening hours and on the weekend.

For assistance using the library’s maps collection, come to Davis Library or call 962-1151.

Library assistance for these and all other areas is also available online for your convenience.

Please visit www.lib.unc.edu and select “Ask a Librarian” for e-mail, online chat, phone and instant message options.

Return to Top

ArtiFACTS

Statues capture essence of athletes in action

Editor’s note: ArtiFACTS is a showcase of interesting art objects found across the University campus. In future issues, Historic Collection Curator Anne Douglas will highlight more of Carolina’s treasures.

In the punishing glare of the sun at Belk track, a young man leaps over a hurdle, his right arm and left leg nicely parallel as he soars over the barrier. Nearby, one young woman prepares to throw a javelin while another breaks victoriously through the finish line tape.

Hallier sculpture

They are there in the moonlight, in the snow, in the rain, and in the fog, images of movement cast in bronze.

Created by Richard Hallier of Boone, the sculptures were donated to the University by Irwin Belk (class of 1948). Hallier was born in Kansas in 1944 and began sculpting at age 40. He has come to specialize in athletes and dancers captured in motion.

While some of his work is abstract and idealized, most of his figural sculptures are extremely detailed and include every muscle and fingernail.

Hallier’s sculptural process begins behind a camera. Using an athlete as a model, he and his assistants take hundreds of high speed photographs of the athlete in action. These first-round photos help Hallier choose the final pose. Another photo session then takes place, with the athlete in the chosen pose. Photos are taken from every angle and focus on the hyperextension of the muscles. Next Hallier creates a steel armature, again using the model to get exact measurements; eventually, he makes a mold of silicone rubber and fiberglass.

He ships the mold to a foundry in Wyoming, where the life-size bronze statue is finally cast.

Hallier sculptures can be found at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs; the Hickory Museum of Art; the North Carolina School of the Arts; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art; and in numerous churches, universities and corporate collections.

Belk, a former UNC letterman for track and field, has donated a number of statues to universities all over the country, including the bronze ram at Kenan Stadium.

ArtiFACTS provided by: Anne M. Douglas
Historic Collection Curator
adouglas@fac.unc.edu

Return to Top

FYI Research

RAMSeS debuts to aid with electronic grant filing

Huge. A sea change. The biggest thing to happen to UNC since e-mail. And these are just a few of the things people at Carolina are saying about RAMSeS.

By now, more than a thousand users at UNC have logged on to RAMSeS (Research Administration Management System and e-Submission), including research administrators, faculty members and business managers.

RAMSeS replaced Coeus as Carolina’s grants management system on July 1. And based on feedback from campus users, there are big plans for RAMSeS.

“We’ve been watching it for the last month and a half, working out all the odds and ends,” said Andy Johns, director of information systems and management for research and economic development. “We have an ambitious schedule of enhancements, and it’ll only speed up over the next few months or so.”

The biggest enhancement, Johns said, will be adapting RAMSeS to handle the changes in Grants.gov, the federal grants application and management system.

Beginning Feb. 1, 2007, all federal agencies will accept only electronic R01 proposals. Seventy-five percent of UNC’s research funding comes from the federal government, and a significant portion of those funds come from R01 proposals. Johns and his team of developers plan to be ready for the February deadline by October.

In the past, Grants.gov has only accepted paper proposals. A federal mandate has changed that, and now all federal agencies are moving to electronic proposal submission.

“And any time you move from a paper-based to a paperless system, there are a lot of changes,” Johns said.

Another major enhancement in the works, Johns noted, is making the Grants.gov proposal documents, or PureEdge documents, available for multiple users simultaneously. The current PureEdge documents work much the same as an Adobe Acrobat PDF - a user can download the file and enter data, but only one person can access the document at a time.

Because of the collaborative nature of proposal writing, Johns said, he and his team are developing PureEdge documents that can be downloaded and saved to server space assigned specifically for document and proposal storage. This way, he said, someone overseas could be working on the proposal at the same time as someone on Carolina’s campus.

Johns will speak at the next meeting of the Research Administration Support Group on Sept. 6. The meeting will take place in the auditorium of the Bioinformatics Building from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Johns will talk about where RAMSeS is headed and will report on feedback from campus users and consequent major upgrades for the fall.

The Office of Sponsored Research will hold RAMSeS training sessions for anyone interested in learning more about how to most effectively use the system.

Upcoming training sessions will be held in Room 3101 of the Administrative Office Building, 104 Airport Drive, at the following times:

bullet Sept. 7, 1-3 p.m.;

bullet Sept. 19, 9-11 a.m.;

bullet Oct. 5, 9-11 a.m.;

bullet Oct. 19, 1-3 p.m.;

bullet Nov. 2, 9-11 a.m.; and

bullet Dec. 12, 9-11 a.m.

Provided by the Division of Research
and Economic Development
Editor: Neil Caudle
Writer: Margarite Nathe

Return to Top

Campus invited to celebrate SILS 75th anniversary

On Sept. 18, the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) will launch a yearlong celebration of its 75th anniversary.

The anniversary theme, “Illuminating the Past, Imagining the Future,” showcases the impact of SILS on the world at large.

Speakers at the campuswide kickoff will include:

bullet Deanna Marcum, associate librarian for Library Services, Library of Congress;

bullet Michael Ruettgers, senior adviser and retired chair, EMC2 Corp.; and

bullet Robert Martin, professor, Texas Women’s University School of Library and Information Science.

The event will also include musical entertainment, words from University and state officials, and a short video on the history of the school. The launch will take place at 2 p.m. in Memorial Hall, with a reception to follow.

The campus community is invited. If you plan to attend,  RSVP via e-mail to: 75th@ils.unc.edu or call 962-8366.

A series of events will take place throughout the anniversary year. Visit the SILS anniversary website (sils.unc.edu/75thanniversary) for details.

Return to Top

Learn IT @ unc.edu

Computer-Based Training expands course offerings

Information Technology Services recently announced that additional technical courses are available to subscribers of the Computer-Based Training (CBT) service. Effective immediately, more than 2,800 courses are available  a significant increase over the 500 courses previously offered.

New technical courses offered to subscribers cover topics such as Java, Oracle, MS SQL Server, programming and web development, Linux and project management.

The service is offered through ElementK, a CBT company. After users sign in to the UNC single sign-on server with their Onyen and password, they are directed to ElementK’s website and can choose from the thousands of courses available to them.

Since the contract with ElementK began in June 2005, more than 2,300 faculty, staff and students have taken advantage of the free subscription to explore courses in office productivity and design and media. The courses can be taken at work or home, and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Faculty, staff and students in all areas of campus can use these courses to improve abilities they use every day and learn new skills. CBT courses can be taken in their entirety or specific modules can be chosen. CBT users can also view and print a transcript that will demonstrate what courses have been attended and completed.

Whether one manages projects or needs to learn how to query databases, courses like “Project Risk Management” or “SQL: Fundamentals of Querying” can enhance existing skills or develop new ones.

In addition, CBT is an ideal way to focus on a specific topic or skill. For example, if a CBT subscriber is comfortable creating simple PowerPoint slide shows, but would like to learn how to incorporate charts into a slide, the CBT course “PowerPoint 2003: Working with Tables, Charts, and Diagrams” would offer the solution.

Carolina is committed to a campus environment in which all members of the University community are encouraged to pursue opportunities for learning and professional growth. Information Technology Services supports the campus community through technology training and the continual learning encouraged by the administration.

To learn more about CBT or to subscribe to the free service, visit cbt.unc.edu.

Subscribe for a chance to win
Anyone who subscribes to CBT between now and the end of September will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate to the Student Stores. In addition, an entry into the drawing will be made for every course completed.

If you subscribe and complete three courses, you will receive four entries in the drawing. For those who have already subscribed to CBT, if you complete two courses, you will receive two entries in the contest. Winners will be announced in early October.

Return to Top

UNC represented at national AHEC conference

Members of the North Carolina Health Careers Access Program (NC-HCAP) staff and the Department of Allied Health Sciences at the University gave a presentation recently at the 2006 National AHEC Organization (NAO) Conference held in Omaha, Neb.

Carolyn Mayo, director and chief executive officer of NC-HCAP; Heather Scott, NC-HCAP/NC-AHEC recruiter/liaison and Brenda Mitchell, associate chair for student services in the Department of Allied Health Sciences; spoke during the event.

The presentation was titled “Innovative Student Recruitment and Admissions Strategies in Allied Health Sciences: The NC-ARC Initiative.” This initiative is a unique, multi-campus partnership that educates underrepresented minority college students about career opportunities in eight allied health science disciplines: therapeutic recreation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, clinical laboratory sciences, cytotechnology, speech-language pathology/audiology and radiologic science.

The partnership includes NC-HCAP, the Department of Allied Health Science, four public historically minority universities (N.C. Agricultural and Technical State University, N.C. Central University, Elizabeth City State University and the UNC at Pembroke), the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program and Dudley High School Health Science Academy.

Phase I of the NC-ARC Initiative provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to differentiate eight allied health science careers involving diagnostic and therapeutic disciplines through didactic and field experiences. Phase II focuses on student admissions, retention and completion of an allied health program.

The purpose of the presentation was to share outcomes and discuss collaborative efforts among NC-HCAP, the NC-AHEC program and the School of Medicine Department of Allied Health Sciences regarding the NC-ARC Initiative, which was funded through the Model State Supported AHEC Grant (MSSAG). 

The presenters aimed to increase knowledge of the NC-ARC Initiative, give specific strategies for successful project implementation and increase knowledge on how to avoid many of the logistical challenges that can occur with multi-partner projects through a discussion of potential barriers (technical, personnel, programming), barrier resolutions and future directions for the project.

Strategies for successful project implementation included selecting and building a pool of students, using live, interactive teleconference technology as a teaching tool, engaging students in mentoring/job shadowing experiences, allowing students to share their experiences through reflective student papers, and maintaining effective communication continuity among faculty, current allied health students, and prospective students.

NC-HCAP is an interinstitutional program of the UNC system designed to increase the number of underrepresented minorities or other individuals from educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds trained, educated and employed in the health professions.

For more information about the Allied Health Sciences, the North Carolina Health Careers Access Program or the NC-ARC Initiative visit nchcap.unc.edu.


Return to Top