Health

Health: Conquering Physical, Mental, and Public Challenges

Stopping Harm Before It Starts

Researchers at the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center began studying the long-term effects of injury and violence well before they were recognized as public health problems. For 30 years, they have addressed vital societal issues including domestic abuse, car crashes, traumatic brain injury, home and workplace safety, and opioid overdose — and have worked closely with practitioners to change policies and save lives.

Running Interference

Nearly 4 million sports- and recreation-related concussions happen each year. About 300,000 of those occur in football. For a long time, such data didn’t exist because these injuries weren’t understood or taken seriously. Decades before he became UNC’s chancellor, neuroscientist Kevin Guskiewicz strived to create the playbook for preventing and treating concussions — and changed the game forever.

Paving New Paths to Choline

UNC Nutrition Research Institute assistant professor Isis Trujillo studies choline, an essential nutrient that is critical for brain development in the womb. A former postdoctoral researcher, she now runs her own lab and is exploring choline’s impact on gene expression to uncover how maternal nutrition influences fetal brain growth.

Julian Rucker

Julian Rucker is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences and a fellow in the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity. He studies beliefs about structural racism, perceptions of societal racial inequality, and motivations to rectify racial disparities.

A Cool Recovery

Before 2000, if a patient arrived at a hospital unconscious after undergoing cardiac arrest, their chances of leaving alive and with all their brain function intact was slim to none. Now, 50 percent wake up and go home thanks to a cooling therapy, brought to UNC in 2007 by emergency physician Larry Katz.

Kay Youngstrom

Kay Youngstrom is a sophomore and Chancellor’s Science Scholar double-majoring in chemistry and statistics and analytics within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. Through an internship with Med Aditus, she uses data analysis to address which of the company’s drugs are most accessible and least susceptible to counterfeits in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Sing Wai Wong

Sing Wai Wong is a third-year periodontology resident in the UNC Adams School of Dentistry. He studies how autophagy — the process by which the body cleans out damaged cells to regenerate new, healthy cells — affects bone loss in the mouth.

Tracking SARS-CoV-2 Variants

SARS-CoV-2 variants may seem like a scary new chapter in the pandemic, but coronavirus experts expected their arrival. Scientists in the UNC School of Medicine and Gillings School of Global Public Health are tracking the variants to learn how they differ and affect the world’s chance of ending this pandemic.

A Public Health Prognosis

Graduate student Rachel Woodul spent two years researching what might happen to hospital capacity when the next pandemic strikes. When it arrived, she compared what her model — and others’ — got wrong to improve how we react to public health crises in the future.

In It for the Long Haul

For some COVID-19 patients, the initial infection is just the start of the battle. Post-COVID syndrome occurs when a person's symptoms continue long after their infection ends. A new clinic at UNC hopes to not only help these patients, but also provide researchers with valuable data about this strange syndrome.