News

Gonzalez-Crespo Among Employees Honored for Service with Massey Awards

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Six employees – including UNC Lineberger’s Ruben Gonzalez-Crespo -  have been selected by Chancellor Holden Thorp to receive 2011 C. Knox Massey Distinguished Service Awards, one of the most coveted distinctions the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill gives faculty and staff. Gonzalez-Crespo is a recruitment specialist and oncology clinical research medical hispanic interpreter.

The late C. Knox Massey of Durham created the awards in 1980 to recognize “unusual, meritorious or superior contributions” by University employees. In 1984, he joined the families of his son, Knox Massey Jr., and daughter, Kay Massey Weatherspoon, in creating the Massey-Weatherspoon fund. Income from the fund supports the Massey Awards and Carolina Seminars.

Thorp will honor the recipients, who were chosen from nominations from the campus community, at an awards luncheon on April 9. Each will receive a $6,000 stipend and an award citation.

Read more about Gonzalez-Crespo and the other award winners Icon indicating that a link will open an external site..

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Announces Graduate Student Awards

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center honored the 2010 recipients of the Lineberger Fellows and the Pagano awards that recognize outstanding research and publications by graduate students.

The Joseph S. Pagano Award was established in 2002 to honor outstanding papers by postdoctoral fellows who are first authors of these papers. The 2010 winners, who received a $2,500 prize, are Coy Allen, PhD, John Chappell, PhD, and Greg Rogers, PhD. The award is named in honor of Joseph S. Pagano, MD, director emeritus of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and training grant director.

Kwun Wah Wen, PhD, Christopher Welch, PhD, and Yaxue Zeng are the 2010 UNC Lineberger Fellow Award Winners; each received a $5,000 prize. The Lineberger Fellows competitive award was established in 1988 by the Center’s Board of Visitors to promote and encourage graduate students to pursue cancer research.

Kwun Wah Wen completed his fellowship in the laboratory of Blossom Damania, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology, and is now finishing medical school in the UNC School of Medicine’s MD/PhD program.

Christopher Welch is a fellow in the laboratory of Klaus Hahn, PhD, Ronald Thurman Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology. In a variety of diseases, including cancer, inflammatory diseases, and cardiovascular diseases, the body’s cells move into tissues inappropriately and cause damage, or fail to move when they should to fight disease.  Welch’s work has focused on understanding the regulation of Rho GTPases, a specific class of proteins that act as on/off switches in the movement machinery of the cell.  Specifically, he has developed new tools to analyze the activity of these proteins in living cells, allowing new insights into the role of these proteins in metastasis and other forms of migration.

Yaxue Zeng is a fellow in the laboratory of Yue Xiong, PhD, Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and leader of the UNC Lineberger Cancer Cell Biology Program. Zeng is conducting research on tumor suppressor genes. Cancer can occur when tumor suppressor genes lose function, permitting the uncontrolled growth of cells, and Zeng is studying how a specific protein called ARF suppresses tumor development.

Pagano Award winners are selected through a competitive process and are honored for their authorship of articles in high-impact journals.

Allen, whose faculty advisor is Jenny Ting, PhD, UNC Alumni Distinguished Professor of Microbiology, and co-leader of UNC Lineberger’s Immunology Program, was first author of an article published in the April 17, 2009 issue of the journal Immunity titled "The NLRP3 inflammasome mediates in vivo innate immunity to influenza A virus through recognition of Viral RNA."

John Chappell, PhD, whose faculty advisor is Vickie Bautch, PhD, professor of biology, was first author of a September 17, 2009  Developmental Cell article titled "Local Guidance of Emerging Vessel Sprouts Requires Soluble Flt-1."

Greg Rogers, PhD, was in the laboratory of Steve Rogers, PhD, associate professor of biology. Greg completed his fellowship and is now an assistant professor at the University of Arizona- Tucson. The article for which he was first author was published in the January 26, 2009 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology and titled "The SCFslimb ubiquitin ligase regulates Plk4/Sak levels to block centriole reduplication.”

Running to Benefit UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr. Jason Lieb profiled in the University Gazette

UNC Lineberger member Jason Lieb, PhD, talks about his research and why he is running in the Tar Heel 10 Miler in the February 23, 2011 issue of the University Gazette.

The University Gazette is a bi-monthly university publication that provides information for the campus community.

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UNC Lineberger Physician Co-Author of Study of Screening Mammography in Women with Personal History of Breast Cancer

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Hy Muss, MD, professor of medicine and leader of the UNC Lineberger Geriatric Oncology Program, was co-author of a paper reporting results of a mammography study of women with a personal history of breast cancer.

The study, the results of which were published in the February 23, 2011 Journal of the American Medical Association Icon indicating that a link will open an external site., showed that mammography screening in women with a personal history of breast cancer detects early-stage second breast cancers, but has lower accuracy, compared to screening in women without prior breast cancer.  Even though mammography was not quite as accurate in women with a prior history of breast cancer as in women without breast cancer, mammography still detected most cancers in women with prior cancers and remains the mainstay of breast cancer imaging for these women.

Scientists at the University of Sydney, Australia, and the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium and Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, Washington conducted the study. Although women with a personal history of breast cancer are at higher risk of developing another breast cancer than women who have not had breast cancer, and are recommended for screening mammography, little high-quality data exist on screening performance in these women.

Subjects included women receiving mammograms at  facilities in five registries of the National Cancer Institute-funded Breast Cancer Screening Program, which collects demographic and mammography information from women undergoing mammography at participating community-based facilities.

Scientists compared the 58,870 screening mammograms in 19,078 women with a history of early-stage breast cancer, and 58,870 matched (breast density, age group, mammography year and registry) screening examinations in 55,315 women without a personal history of breast cancer.

Screening outcomes and breast cancer rates in women with a personal history of breast cancer are associated with various factors, including the treatment received for the first cancer, so these women have various underlying risks for a second breast cancer, and a more tailored screening strategy than currently recommended might be warranted. The study suggests that further imaging research is needed for women with a prior breast cancer especially those younger than 50 years of age, those with extremely dense breasts, or those who received breast conservation without radiotherapy for their first cancer.

UNC Scientist Partners with Australian Colleagues on Benefits of Colon Cancer Screening

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - A new finding by a UNC scientist and Australian colleagues demonstrates that the rising cost of cancer care is compelling Westernized countries to quickly adopt screening programs.

Michael Pignone, MD, MPH, is co-author of a study published in the February 21, 2011 Medical Journal of Australia Icon indicating that a link will open an external site. about colon cancer screening in that country. Pignone, who led the study, and his fellow scientists from Australia report that implementing a biennial (every two years) colorectal cancer screening for Australians ages 50-74 would reduce colon cancer deaths by 15-25 percent annually and prevent 300-500 deaths per year from the disease.  The Medical Journal of Australia is a publication of the Australian Medical Association Icon indicating that a link will open an external site..

Pignone is professor of medicine, chief of the division of general medicine and epidemiology, and a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Australia has a population of 23 million people, about twice the size of North Carolina, and one of the highest incidences of colon cancer in the world: In 2010 the Cancer Council of Australia estimated that 14,700 Australians would be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and approximately 3,700 would die from their disease.

At present, the Australian government has implemented only a limited colorectal cancer screening program, with one-time fecal occult blood test (FOBT) screening for those aged 50, 55 and 65 years. The team analyzed existing economic models from Australia and performed additional modeling themselves to determine the costs and cost-effectiveness of full implementation of biennial FOBT screening for the 5 million adults in Australia aged 50-74 years.

Pignone says, “Regular colorectal cancer screening means diagnosing cancers at an earlier and more easily treated stage, thus saving lives and dollars. And, based on savings from reduced treatment costs, we estimate that implementation of a full program could be achieved with a modest additional investment.”

Senior author James B. St. John, MD, says,  “ Right now, Australians spend over $750 million caring for patients with colorectal cancers, and with treatment costs rising each year, a biennial colorectal cancer screening program for Australians aged 50-74 should be seriously considered.

“The actual additional expenditure required is likely to be less than $50 million per year. Full implementation of colorectal cancer screening would bring spending in this program up to a level similar to that for other cancer screening program such as those for breast and cervical cancers.”

St. John is associate professor and honorary principal fellow in the department of medicine at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, and honorary senior associate of the Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, VIC.

Pignone completed the work as a recipient of a Packer Policy Fellowship from the Australian Department of Health and Ageing. Pignone is an international expert on colorectal cancer screening and has participated in reviews of colon cancer screening practices, the results of which have been used by groups such as the US Preventive Services Task Force and the Institute of Medicine to help develop screening guidelines.

In the US in 2010, the American Cancer Society estimated that 142,570 Americans would be diagnosed with colorectal cancers and that 51,370 people would die from their disease.

Additional authors are Kathy L. Flitcroft,  Kirsten Howard, Lyndal J. Trevena, and Glen P. Salkeld, all from the University of Sydney School of Public Health, Sydney, NSW.

Pignone will use his Australian research experience to inform a new project, funded by the University Cancer Research Fund. He and colleagues in the US and Australia will compare how people in each country differ in terms of their values about the benefits and downsides of prostate and colorectal cancer screening. In doing so, they hope to learn whether citizens of each country have similar or different values about screening, and then examine how such values influence the design and utilization of cancer screening programs. The University Cancer Research Fund was created by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2007. The University Cancer Research Fund’s mission is to save lives and reduce suffering from cancer in North Carolina and beyond through discovery of the causes and course of cancer, innovation in detection, prevention and treatment and delivery of improved care, screening and prevention.

Read Cancer Council Australia’s related news release Icon indicating that a link will open an external site..

Study: Payment, Shipping Bans Stub Out Cigarette-Selling Websites

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Bans on using credit cards to pay for cigarettes bought on Internet sites – combined with bans on commercial shippers delivering the products – appear to have effectively reduced the size and reach of the online cigarette sales industry, a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study shows.

The study, published in the journal PLoS One, found that such bans lowered the number of vendors offering cigarettes online and reduced consumer traffic to the most popular cigarette-selling websites.

“Most Internet vendors offer tax-free cigarettes, making them cheaper than those sold at stores,” said Kurt Ribisl, Ph.D., lead author of the study and associate professor of health behavior and health education in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. “This undermines the impact that higher prices have on reducing smoking.”

Ribisl said that aside from violating tax laws, most online cigarette vendors have weak age verification and sell to minors. This led to landmark voluntary agreements in 2005 with major credit card companies and private shippers to ban payment transactions and bar commercial shippers from transporting all Internet cigarette sales.

The study is believed to be the first such research examining the impact of those agreements.

Ribisl and a team of UNC researchers studied the bans’ effectiveness by examining the sales practices of hundreds of websites one year before and two years after the agreements went into effect. They also compared the number of unique monthly visitors to the 50 most popular cigarette vendor sites to determine whether the bans altered web traffic.

The study found that following the bans, many websites closed down. There also was a 3.5-fold decline in traffic to the 50 most popular vendor sites, resulting in an estimated 1.25 million fewer visits per month before the end of the 2005. And although an influx of new vendors initially saw a net increase in the number of sites, their numbers fell markedly over the following year, resulting in an overall drop in the total number of vendors.

Researchers also found that the proportion of vendors accepting credit cards and PayPal dropped from 99.2 percent to 37.4 percent after the bans, and the proportion offering to ship via UPS, FedEx and other commercial shippers dropped from 32.2 percent to 5.6 percent. However, there was a corresponding increase in vendors offering non-banned payment options (such as personal checks) and shipping options (including the U.S. Postal Service, which did not ban cigarettes). This indicated that the Internet vendors actively exploited loopholes in the voluntary agreements, the study noted, although a new federal law signed by President Obama last year has strengthened the provisions of the voluntary agreements and made tobacco nonmailable matter through the U.S. Postal Service.

Ribisl said the strategies examined in the study could have wider public health applications.

“This promising approach to controlling the sale of restricted goods online has implications for regulating other products such as alcohol, firearms, quack cures and medicines sold without a prescription,” he said.

Other authors of the study, all from UNC, were Rebecca Williams, Ph.D., and Ziya Gizlice, Ph.D., both research associates with the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention; and Amy H. Herring, Sc.D., associate professor of biostatistics, Gillings School of Global Public Health and a fellow of the Carolina Population Center. Ribisl is also a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study was supported with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Study link: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0016754 Icon indicating that a link will open an external site.

Note: Ribisl can be reached at 919-843-8042 or by email An icon indicating that a link will launch an email program..

Gillings School of Global Public Health contact:

Ramona DuBose An icon indicating that a link will launch an email program., 919-966-7467

News Services contact:

Patric Lane An icon indicating that a link will launch an email program., 919-962-8596

Bosom Buddies Donates Over $26,000 to UNC Breast Center

Bosom Buddies Executive Director Donna Branham and Treasurer Karen Bowman and member Ashley Fisher met with Dr. Keith Amos and Dr. Lisa Carey at the N.C. Cancer Hospital on February 21, 2011. The Charlotte area fundraising group donated $26,500 to the UNC Breast Center.

Bosom Buddies began in 2005 at the Weddington Swim & Racquet Club in Matthews, NC and has been held annually. The 2010 event had 10 Official Host Sites, 101 Tennis Professionals, 818 participants and generated over $75,000 for breast cancer awareness and research. To date, the Bosom Buddies Benefit Clinic has donated over $200,000 for breast cancer research and awareness.

DeSimone Receives Top Science Mentor Award

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researcher and innovator, Joseph M. DeSimone Icon indicating that a link will open an external site., PhD, has received the 2010 Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science Icon indicating that a link will open an external site..

The award honors association members who have mentored significant numbers of underrepresented students – such as women, minorities and persons with disabilities – towards a Ph.D. degree in the sciences. The association is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.

DeSimone, Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry at UNC and William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at N.C. State University, was recognized for his dedication to advancing the diversity of doctoral-level chemists entering the workforce.

He will receive the award Feb. 19 (Saturday) at a ceremony at the association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

He has mentored at least nine African American students, one Hispanic American student and 24 women through the completion of their Ph.D. degrees in chemistry. He also teamed up with former advisee Valerie Ashby – now Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professor of Chemistry and a colleague of DeSimone’s in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences – to launch a Chapel Hill-based chapter of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers.

Yolanda George, the association’s deputy director of education and human resources, said DeSimone’s dedication to mentorship transcended the chemical sciences, and was rooted in his belief that diversification drives innovation.

For more information, see the association’s announcement Icon indicating that a link will open an external site..

Media note: DeSimone can be reached at 919-962-2166 or by email An icon indicating that a link will launch an email program..

N.C. Cancer Hospital Endowment Fund Selects Eight Projects for 2011 Funding

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Since the opening of the N.C. Cancer Hospital in September 2009, UNC’s cancer team has seen an increase of almost 30 percent in the number of patients being screened, diagnosed, evaluated and treated for cancer.

Now, thanks to the generosity of private donors, UNC’s cancer care team can do even more. Supporters have given more than $2.2 million to the N.C. Cancer Hospital Endowment Fund, a fund that is invested to provide a perpetual source of revenue to support critical clinical programs, clinical faculty development and clinical research priorities, as well as unique and expanded patient support programs.

In October, a ten member committee from across the hospital, clinical faculty and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center invited proposals for projects that meet these criteria. The committee received 22 innovative proposals and selected eight projects for funding.

“These are the kinds of projects that really benefit patients, but funds are not available from other sources,” said Richard M. Goldberg, MD, the hospital’s Physician-in-Chief.

“The philanthropic spirit of the donors whose gifts helped build the N.C. Cancer Hospital Endowment is what makes it possible for our faculty and staff to do these extra projects that benefit patients both in the short and long-term,” he added.

The eight projects include:

  • An educational video for bone marrow transplant patients and caregivers, delivered on iPads while in the hospital and via the Internet in other locations, which provides hands-on training for the skills needed to care for the transplant patient as well as a way to track symptoms and organize questions about their treatment.
  • A high risk gastrointestinal cancer clinic for patients and families with certain genetic mutations that make them likely to get cancer. The clinic will pull together a team of gastroenterologists, surgeons, geneticists and primary care physicians to provide integrated care and cancer screenings for those at high risk.
  • A project to compare techniques for hand-held and automated ultrasound screenings to determine which mode is best for evaluating suspicious breast lesions that have been identified during mammograms and are scheduled for biopsy.
  • A pilot project to create an electronic system for capturing and relaying patient information about their symptoms, functioning and health-related quality of life. In certain treatment programs, tablet computers will be used to collect the data, the information will be provided to the patient’s care team in real-time and – in the long term – used to monitor and evaluate treatment side effects.
  • A project to help cancer patients, who are about four times more likely to develop a blood clot than the general population, learn strategies for prevention and treatment of blood clots and how to recognize the symptoms of a blood clot and seek treatment. The educational materials will include online learning modules, handouts and downloadable information sheets.
  • The purchase of arm sleeves for 50 cancer patients suffering from Lymphedema, a painfully and potentially debilitating side effect of mastectomy and radiation used to treat breast cancer. These sleeves are not paid for through Medicare or Medicaid and many patients can’t afford these simple devices, which significantly alleviate the discomfort of arm lymphedema.
  • Creation of an oncology patient education series on a wide variety of topics of interest for patients and caregivers ranging from infection control, chemotherapy and central line care to community resources, communication with health care providers, exercise and nutrition.
  • Sending a UNC genetic counselor to Fayetteville, Lumberton and Rockingham to offer cancer genetic counseling and testing, when appropriate, to high-risk individuals at increased risk of hereditary breast/ovarian cancer syndrome. The project will also provide a community education opportunity that will be open to the public.

First Cancer Transitions Workshop a Success

 

UNC Lineberger’s Carolina Well and the Comprehensive Cancer Support Program (CCSP) offered a workshop on “Cancer Transitions: Promoting Wellness & Group Process” for community outreach coordinators and their community partners as well for interested UNC nurses and staff.

More than 20 professionals took part, including staff from the Marion Shepard Cancer Center in Washington; Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington; Presbyterian Counseling Center/Sam Mann Healing Partnership and Voces Latina in Wilmington; Leo Jenkins Cancer Center in Greenville; and Duplin General Hospital in Kenansville.

The inaugural workshop included training on group facilitation and a chance to share ideas with colleagues. The workshop also featured an overview of the Cancer Transitions program, a six-week psycho-educational program that began at UNC in 2009, and one that will be implemented in more NC communities.

Nicole DaVia, a physician’s assistant at the Marion L. Shepard Cancer Center in Washington, NC, said, "Programs like this one are essential to train medical caregivers in providing continued care and guidance to our patients and their families beyond cancer treatment.  This time of "transition" is one of the most difficult and if we can provide them with some guidance then we will have provided a continued sense of security and hope that life does go on beyond cancer!"

Carolina Well, a survivorship program of UNC Lineberger, is a member of the LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center of Excellence Network. The program is made possible by the V Foundation and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. CCSP is a multidisciplinary program dedicated to helping patients and their caregivers with cancer treatment, recovery and survivorship.

Promise of Genomics Research Needs a Realistic View

James P. Evans, MD, PhD is lead author of a commentary about the potential of genomic medicine.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - In the ten years since the human genetic code was mapped, expectations among scientists, health care industry, policy makers, and the public have remained high concerning the promise of genomics research for improving health.

But a new commentary by four internationally prominent genetic medicine and bioethics experts cautions against the dangers of inflated expectations – an unsustainable genomic bubble  – and it offers ways to avoid it while still realizing “the true – and considerable – promise of the genomic revolution.”

“This commentary is an attempt to bring some balance to the hopes and claims that swirl around the issue of genomic medicine. It is a cautionary essay that tries to extol the real and formidable potential of genomic medicine but also attempts to counter what we see as exaggerated claims, said lead author medical geneticist James P. Evans, MD, PhD, Bryson Distinguished Professor of Genetics and Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Our fear is that if we are uncritical and naïve in our enthusiasm for these exciting technologies we risk both diversion of precious resources and premature implementation which could hurt patients - as well as a backlash which will hurt our field,” Evans warns.

The commentary appears in the February 18, 2011 issue of the journal Science. Co-authors with Evans are Eric M. Meslin, PhD, director, Center for Bioethics, Indiana University, Indianapolis; Theresa M. Marteau, PhD, FMedSci, professor of health psychology, Kings College, London, UK; and Timothy Caulfield, LL.M., F.R.S.C., Canada Research Chair in Health Law & Policy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta.

“Breathtaking” is how the authors describe the progress already made in genomic research. But, they caution, the considerable promise of genomics must be evaluated through a realistic lens. Advances in individualized medicine, or pharmacogenetics for example, still require the importance of human behavior in health outcomes: the most powerful predictor of a drug’s efficacy depends less on genetics than whether the patient takes the drug.

Among the reasons they cite making genomics the persistent recipient of “hyperbole” and inflated expectations, some are tied to impatience for practical applications, market forces and unbridled (but uncritical) enthusiasm. The news media also is named for “playing an obvious role in the creation of unrealistic hopes.”

“These forces act together to produce a kind of “cycle of hype” that drive overly optimistic representations of the research,” said co-author Timothy Caulfield.

In their short-list of recommendations for avoiding inflation of the “genomic bubble, Evans and co-authors offer the following: (1) reevaluate funding priorities to stress behavioral and social science research aimed at behavior change for improving health; (2) foster a realistic understanding “of the incremental nature of science and the need for statistical rigor,” within the scientific community and that the media make more responsible claims for genomic research; (3) maintain a focus on developing high-quality evidence before integrating good ideas into medical practice.

“By highlighting the risks of continuing to promise results from genomic science, we were hoping to draw attention to a more sustainable approach to reaping the benefits from genomic science,” said co-author Eric Meslin.

The authors assert their belief  that the current age of genomics will provide great benefits to human health “Ours is not a call to gut existing research or too-rigidly tie funding to degree of disease burden … The pursuit of our common goal – improved human health – demands that we take a hard look at disease causation and order our priorities accordingly.”

Family House Diaries: Brotherly Love in the Form of a Stem Cell Donation

Written by Elizabeth Swaringen for UNC Health Care, this article tells the story of UNC patient Maxine Pender and how a donation of healthy stem cells from her brother helped to treat her leukemia.

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Written by Elizabeth Swaringen for UNC Health Care, this article tells the story of UNC patient Maxine Pender and how a donation of healthy stem cells from her brother helped to treat her leukemia.

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Weili Lin, PhD Appointed Director, UNC Biomedical Research Imaging Center

Weili Lin, PhD, has been appointed Director of the UNC Biomedical Research Imaging Center (BRIC).

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Dr. Lin has been serving as interim director of the center since July 1, 2010.  His research focuses on innovative biomedical applications of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) including the use of nanotechnology, brain imaging in cases of cancer, stroke, early brain development and both genetic and developmental brain abnormalities.  He is a Professor in the Departments of Radiology, Neurology, and Biomedical Engineering at UNC and holds a joint appointment as Professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.  He is also a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and serves as the Vice Chair of Basic Research, Department of Radiology.

Dr. Lin earned his MS and PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University and joined the UNC faculty in 1999. Currently, he is a member of the Editorial Board of Stroke, Translational Stroke Research, and Radiology Research and Practice. He edited a special issue of the journal Nuclear Magnetic Resonance in Biomedicine focusing on functional MRI and served as associate editor of the journal Current Protocols in Magnetic Resonance Imaging. He serves as an ad hoc member on multiple study sections and site visit teams at the National Institutes of Health and has been a member and an ad hoc member of multiple committees of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the NIH. He has published more than 130 peer-reviewed papers, many of which appeared in high-impact journals. He serves as principal investigator on three current NIH research project grants totaling more than $750,000 annually and as a co-investigator on several other NIH-funded projects focusing on cancer imaging, brain development, schizophrenia, muscular dystrophy and autism.

“The field of biomedical imaging has transformed the practice of medicine, but there are more breakthroughs on the horizon,” said Marschall Runge, MD, PhD, Executive Dean of the School of Medicine and Chair of the Department of Medicine. “Dr. Lin’s leadership in the field, combined with his oversight of our outstanding new facility, will be an enormous asset in attracting and retaining faculty whose work will lead to new scientific and medical insights.” Runge is also Director of the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NCTraCS) Institute.

The BRIC was established in 2005 to serve the imaging needs of UNC-Chapel Hill biomedical researchers and to advance the rapidly developing science of biomedical imaging. The center enables a better understanding of disease, including cancer and neurologic diseases and studies the effects of genetic changes on disease development and progression.  The center will develop new imaging technologies for a host of medical uses. Advanced imaging will be a key factor in physicians’ ability to determine whether new therapies work, for example, does a new treatment stop cancer progression even before it shrinks the tumor or will a treatment limit brain damage from stroke. The BRIC will also enable drug discovery and development for many diseases and track the success of nanotechnology in drug delivery.

“It is difficult to overstate the potential of the research programs that will utilize the state-of-the-art assets of the BRIC,” said William L. Roper, MD, MPH, Dean of the School of Medicine, Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs and Chief Executive Officer of the UNC Health Care System. “Dr. Lin’s appointment as director provides stable leadership and the breadth of expertise necessary to realize the center’s tremendous potential.”

BRIC researchers are active across a broad spectrum of academic disciplines, including psychiatry, neurology, pathology, oncology, physics, biology, rheumatology, cardiology, gastroenterology, public health, genetics, neuroscience, psychology, radiology, radiation oncology, nursing, dentistry, pharmacology, biomedical engineering, chemistry, bioinformatics, and others.

The center’s new state-of-the-art facility, under construction adjacent to the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center building, will be the largest research building on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, with 343,000 square feet of space. The center will house a comprehensive collection of state-of-the-art imaging systems, including 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, a highly unique and innovative hybrid MRI/positron emission tomography (MR-PET), a 7T whole body MRI scanner, and a computed tomography/PET scanner for human imaging. In addition, a 9.4T MR scanner, a PET/CT, SPECT/CT, ultrasound, CT, and optical imaging systems are also available for small animals. Finally, a cyclotron facility, including a 16.5MeV cyclotron and the radiochemistry lab will also be housed in the center, which will substantially strengthen our ability to shed light on in vivo molecular events non-invasively.  Together, the BRIC aims to establish a premier imaging research program.

For more information, go to bric.unc.edu Icon indicating that a link will open an external site..

UNC Healthcare Contact:
Jennifer James An icon indicating that a link will launch an email program., 919-966-7622

E-Cigarette Study Featured on Time Magazine Website

UNC Lineberger member Kurt Ribisl, PhD, was part of the study's research team.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The article "A Study Asks, Could E-Cigarettes Really Help Smokers Quit?" written by Meredith Melnick and published on February 10, 2011 in the Healthland section of Time magazine's website, features a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study is titled "Tracking the Rise in Popularity of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems ("Electronic Cigarettes") Using Search Query Surveillance."  UNC Lineberger member Kurt Ribisl, PhD, was part of the study's research team.

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Congratulations to UNC's Top Cancer Docs!

Sixty physicians at the University of North Carolina Hospitals are listed in the latest version of “America’s Top Doctors,” a compilation that is published annually by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. Of those, 32 are members of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center or involved in UNC Cancer Care’s multidisciplinary programs.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The doctors were chosen by their peers, based primarily for their excellence in patient care through Castle Connolly's surveying and research methods. Survey respondents were asked to nominate peer physicians to whom they would send members of their family.

The UNC Lineberger and UNC Cancer Care doctors honored in the compilation are:

Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism – H. Shelton Earp
Gastroenterology – Scott Plevy, R. Balfour Sartor
Geriatric Medicine – Laura Hanson
Gynecologic Oncology – Daniel Clarke-Pearson, Wesley Fowler, John Soper
Medical Oncology – Stephen Bernard, Lisa Carey, Paul Godley, Richard Goldberg, Hyman Muss, Jonathan Serody, Thomas Shea, Mark Socinski
Neurological Surgery – Matthew Ewend
Otolaryngology – William Shockley, Mark Weissler
Pediatric Hematology-Oncology – Julie Blatt, Stuart Gold
Plastic Surgery – C. Scott Hultman
Radiation Oncology – Jan Halle, Lawrence Marks, Julian Rosenman, Joel Tepper
Surgery – Benjamin Calvo, Mark Koruda, Anthony Meyer
Thoracic Surgery – Richard Feins
Urology –Raj Pruthi, Eric Wallen
Vascular & Interventional Radiology – Matthew Mauro

A physician-led team of researchers followed a rigorous screening process to select top doctors on both the national and regional levels. Using mail surveys, telephone surveys and electronic ballots, the research team asked board certified physicians and the medical leadership of leading hospitals to nominate highly skilled, exceptional doctors. Criteria developed by the Castle Connolly research team led to the final selection of those physicians most highly regarded by their peers in each specialty. The criteria used to determine physician eligibility for inclusion in the magazine: professional qualifications; education, residency, board certification, fellowships; professional reputation, hospital appointment, medical school faculty appointment, and experience. The physicians are grouped alphabetically by specialty and alphabetically within each specialty.

Goldberg Cited in USA Today

Richard Goldberg, MD is physician-in-chief of the N.C. Cancer Hospital and UNC Lineberger associate director of clinical research.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The article "Two cancer drugs keep rare pancreatic tumors in check" written by Liz Szabo  and published in the February 9, 2011 issue of USA Today cites N.C. Cancer Hospital physician-in-chief and UNC Lineberger associate director of clinical research Richard Goldberg, MD.

The article discusses two new drugs – Sutent and Afinitor – that treat a rare type of pancreatic cancer.

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FDA Restrictions on Outdoor Cigarette Ads Near Schools May Hurt Business Less than Industry Says

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new rules restricting outdoor tobacco advertising near schools and playgrounds in 2009, the tobacco industry argued that such rules would lead to a near complete ban on tobacco advertising in urban areas. An article in the March 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that the effect of these rules would be less severe on businesses than the industry contends.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - "However, easing the rules could cripple the impact of the law upon reducing children's exposure to tobacco advertising," said Kurt Ribisl, PhD, associate professor of health behavior and health education at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and one of the authors of the paper. "Children and adolescents are very susceptible to cigarette ads."

A 2008 National Cancer Institute report, "The Role of the Media in Promoting and Reducing Tobacco Use," concluded that tobacco advertising implies tobacco use is safe, healthful and a widely practiced behavior, and it falsely associates tobacco use with youth, energy and sex appeal.

"These themes and images resonate with youth," said Ribisl, who is also a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. "Limiting youth exposure to outdoor tobacco ads is critical to protecting their health. The regulations should not be weakened because the tobacco companies are fighting to place cigarette ads closer to schools."

Tobacco industry representatives argue that retailers who sell cigarettes would be hurt by a cigarette-ad-free buffer zone around schools.

"It is critical to point out one subtle but important difference between the analysis that the tobacco industry conducted and the analysis presented here," commented lead investigator Douglas A. Luke, PhD, professor at the Center for Tobacco Policy Research at Washington University in St. Louis.

"Their analyses focused on the percentage of land area off-limits to tobacco advertising. In this study, the number and proportion of retailers affected were calculated, not the land percentage. The number of retailers affected, not the land area, is the more appropriate metric to use when making policy decisions," Luke said.

"First, the 'real-world' regulatory impact is felt by people and businesses, not by land. Second, tobacco retailers are clustered in commercial zones, and showing that a high percentage of all land is unavailable for advertising under outdoor advertising bans overstates the impact of the policy. A key question is not what percentage of land is off-limits under an advertising ban, but rather, what is the additional or incremental impact of an advertising ban, given existing zoning regulations."

Using geographical information system (GIS) spatial analysis for the states of Missouri and New York, along with more detailed analyses of the urban areas of St. Louis and New York City, investigators located all tobacco retailers falling within 350-, 500- and 1000-foot buffer zones around all schools and parks. They determined that 22 percent of retailers in Missouri and 51 percent in New York fall within 1,000-foot buffers around schools. In urban settings, more retailers are affected - 29 percent in St. Louis and 79 percent in New York City. Sensitivity analyses demonstrate that smaller buffers decrease the proportion of affected retailers. For instance, 350-foot buffers affect only 6.7 percent of retailers in St. Louis and 29 percent in New York City.

Therefore, in Missouri and New York, outdoor tobacco advertising would still be permitted in many locations even if such advertising was prohibited in a 1,000-foot buffer zone around schools and parks. Much smaller buffer zones of 350 feet may result in almost no reduction of outdoor advertising in many parts of the country. The FDA is still deciding the distance from schools at which they will ban outdoor tobacco advertising. Given the lack of impact of a 350-foot ban, the authors urge the FDA to reject that as an option and implement a distance that is more effective at reducing outdoor advertising where children routinely will be exposed to it. If the 1,000-foot buffer zone were implemented, the authors estimate that up to 1.5 million pieces of outdoor tobacco advertising would be removed across the country.

Buffer zones where no outdoor advertisements are allowed have been proposed by the FDA and public comment has been solicited. The tobacco industry contends that a 1000-foot buffer zone in urban areas would be equivalent to a total ban and therefore unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds.

"Tobacco advertising reaches children and adolescents in a variety of ways," the study concludes. "Given the effectiveness of tobacco advertising, efforts to restrict the exposure of young people to tobacco advertising is an important health policy goal. The current health policy analyses suggest that weakening of outdoor advertising policies may result in phantom policies that do little to reduce youth exposure to tobacco product advertising."

The article, "Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act: Banning Outdoor Tobacco Advertising Near Schools and Playgrounds," by Luke, Ribisl, Carson Smith, BA; and Amy A Sorg, MPH, appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 40, Issue 3 (March 2011).

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UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact:
Ramona DuBose An icon indicating that a link will launch an email program., Director of Communications, 919-966-7467

Bernard, Palliative Care Team Highlighted in University Gazette

The article discusses Bernard’s work with the UNC Palliative Care Program and the Supportive Care Consult Service and Clinic.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Stephen Bernard, MD, co-director of the Palliative Care Center and professor in the School of Medicine’s division of hematology/oncology, is featured in the article “Palliative Care Team Brings Expertise, Relief Directly to Cancer Patients” published in the February 9, 2011 issue of the University Gazette. The article discusses Bernard’s work with the UNC Palliative Care Program and the Supportive Care Consult Service and Clinic.

Also highlighted are Laura Hanson, MD, MPH, co-director of the UNC Palliative Care Program; pharmacist John Valgus, PharmD, BCOP, CPP; nurse consultant Sandi Jarr, RN, MSN; and nursing coordinator Chip Baker, NP, MS, NO-C, ACHPN.

The University Gazette is a bi-monthly university publication that provides information for the campus community.

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Anders, Hoadley are First Recipients of New Brain Tumor Research Award

Anders was chosen for her work on breast cancer brain metastases. Hoadley was selected for her contributions to the analysis of glioblastomas.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Carey Anders, MD and Katherine Hoadley, PhD were recently selected as the first two recipients of the new Weatherspoon Family Brain Tumor Research Award.

Dr. Anders, a native of Burlington, N.C., an assistant professor in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, was chosen for her work on the identification of the prognosis and treatment of breast cancer brain metastases. Hoadley, a native of Shepherdstown, W.V. and a research associate at UNC Lineberger, is being recognized for her contributions to a Lineberger-led analysis of glioblastomas (fast-growing malignant brain tumors).

Each received a cash prize of $2,500 to be used for professional development and will also have their names engraved on a plaque that will be displayed at UNC Lineberger.

“The quality and quantity of brain tumor research on the UNC campus is impressive, so winning this award is a great feather in the caps of both Drs. Hoadley and Dr. Anders. Despite the efforts of researchers and clinicians here at UNC and around the country, brain tumors continue to cause such difficult problems for our patients and their families. I am grateful to everyone involved in brain tumor research for their efforts,” said Matthew Ewend, MD Icon indicating that a link will open an external site., chair of the Department of Neurosurgery Icon indicating that a link will open an external site., which gives the award.

The Weatherspoon Family Brain Tumor Research Award was created this year by the family of Van Weatherspoon of Charlotte, N.C., to honor him for his many years of service and commitment to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and to its brain tumor program.

Media contact:
Tom Hughes An icon indicating that a link will launch an email program., 919-966-6047

Gold, Henry Family Featured on WRAL

The Henry family shares the story of brothers Collin and Patrick, both diagnosed with cancer and receiving care at the N.C. Cancer Hospital.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Stuart Gold, MD, chief of the division of pediatric oncology at UNC, and the Henry family were recently featured on WRAL. Brothers Collin and Patrick Henry were diagnosed with cancer and are being treated at the N.C. Cancer Hospital.

The segment aired on February 7, 2011.

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