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Inside Research

An Internal Newsletter for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research

May 2020

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UNC-Tested Drug Shortens Recovery Time for COVID-19 Patients

Remdesivir, a drug developed by Gilead Sciences and tested at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, proves effective against COVID-19 in NIAID human clinical trials. Participants who took the drug usually recovered in 11 days, compared to 15 days in the group taking a placebo.

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UNC is a Global Epicenter for Coronavirus Research

In the last few months, UNC researchers have led the charge in responding to the pandemic crisis by developing tests and therapies, understanding coronavirus biology and epidemiology, and studying health outcomes and impacts on society from all angles.

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Third Cohort of Creativity Hubs Finalists to Present May 27
Each year finalists for the Creativity Hubs awards publicly present on their innovative, interdisciplinary projects. Two of the finalists are then selected as recipients of up to $500,000 in funding from the OVCR to execute their proposals over the next two years. This year, we invite the UNC community to attend the presentations via Zoom on May 27 beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Creativity Hubs is a strategic initiative from the OVCR in support of the university's research priorities and strategic plan. The initiative brings together investigators across diverse disciplines to establish virtual networks for research convergence. Projects supported by the program are expected to lead to sustainable, large-scale extramural funding or commercial opportunities.

Agenda for Presentations
12:30 p.m. Opening Remarks
Presented by Terry Magnuson, vice chancellor for research

12:45 p.m. AI Accelerated Discovery of Solar Energy Materials
Presentation led by Jim Cahoon, associate professor of chemistry, executive director of research core facilities for the College of Arts & Sciences, UNC site director for the Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network; and Alex Tropsha, associate dean for pharmacoinformatics and data science, K.H. Lee Distinguished Professor for Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry

1 p.m. Protecting Pregnant Women from Environmental Toxins
Presentation led by Rebecca Fry, Carol Remmer Angle Distinguished Professor and associate chair of environmental sciences and engineering, director for the Institute for Environmental Health Solutions, director for the UNC Superfund Research Program, director of graduate studies in the Curriculum in Toxicology

1:15 p.m. Vector-Borne Disease
Presentation led by Ross Boyce, assistant professor of infectious diseases

1:30 p.m. First Mile in Health
Presentation led by Noreen McDonald, Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Professor and chair of city and regional planning

Please visit this link and enter your ONYEN and password for meeting log-in info.

UNC Research News & Updates

Sheps Center releases briefs on COVID-19 modeling

Researchers at The Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research are part of an independent, informal collaborative of data scientists, health services and policy researchers, and epidemiologists who are modeling the impact of COVID-19 on North Carolina. Mark Holmes, a health policy expert and director of the center, has collaborated with colleagues at Duke University to produce two briefs: one on hospital capacity and another on a data-driven approach for lifting the stay-at-home order. Sheps Center researchers are working on additional COVID-19 projects and will continue to release briefs as the pandemic progresses.

RENCI launches COVID-19 website

RENCI has developed a new website detailing its response to the pandemic and will use this platform to feature blog posts about the institute's COVID-19 projects. Working closely with partner research institutions and the private sector, RENCI is adapting and extending its existing capabilities to accelerate COVID-19 response and research efforts. Its researchers are leaders in data science and in data-driven discoveries, and they want to use those talents to assist the larger international effort to slow the spread of the virus and search for treatments.

NC TraCS starts special series of written stories on COVID-19

FastTraCS is a small group of biomedical engineers within the NC TraCS Institute who support UNC Health physicians, nurses, and staff by identifying problems in clinical settings and creating innovative, technological solutions. In a special series, NC TraCS will cover how the team is responding to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The first article, titled "Mission Critical [Part One]: Make it Work," features team member Devin Hubbard, who has been 3D-printing masks at home.

CRC announces new partnership with American Planning Association

The American Planning Association (APA), the country's largest group of planning professionals, has partnered with the Coastal Resilience Center (CRC) to incorporate a planning scorecard that helps communities take steps to protect themselves from the impacts of natural hazards. As part of the agreement, APA will designate the Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard (PIRS), developed by CRC researchers, as a national standard and resource for building local capacity to integrate resilience across planning sectors. The project will build on previous work developing and testing PIRS to expand its application and impact nationwide.

HSRC researcher joins advisory council focused on automated vehicle education

Michael Clamann, a senior human factors engineer with the Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC), has been named to Partners for Automated Vehicle Education's (PAVE) newly formed Academic Advisory Council, a panel of leading academicians who will help PAVE achieve its mission of "promoting fact-based public discussion about automated vehicles." On the council, Clamann will utilize his expertise in using engineering and psychology to research how technology can be improved by understanding human strengths and limitations. The council will provide PAVE members with advice and recommendations on matters related to automated vehicle technology, including its societal effects, as well as assistance with polling, metrics, and input on conducting public education campaigns.

New OCT hire wins prestigious award

Joyce Lanier, who recently graduated from UNC-Charlotte and joined the Office of Clinical Trials (OCT) as a billing coverage analysis coordinator for the clinical research compliance team, is the recipient of the North Carolina Association for Respiratory Care Educators Student of the Year Award and the 2020 Silver Capstone Award. The capstone award is presented to the individual who faculty felt had an exceptional research project and presented their work in such a manner that deemed them capable of presenting at the state level.

Special Feature

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Employees Achieve Research Service Milestones

The OVCR would like to recognize the following people with service milestones of 20 years or more for FY20 within the State of North Carolina system. We appreciate and applaud your service and dedication.

45 Years
Gina Walker, FPG Child Development Institute

40 Years
Donna Bryant, FPG Child Development Institute

35 Years
Marie Huff, FPG Child Development Institute

30 Years
Sherry Franklin, FPG Child Development Institute
Yumiko Ohta Hayes, Division of Comparative Medicine
Laurie Leadbetter, Sheps Center for Health Services Research
Maryalice Nocera, Injury Prevention Research Center
Byron Raines, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
James Thomas, Carolina Population Center
Tim Vanacker, Carolina Population Center
Teresa Williams, FPG Child Development Institute

25 Years
Paula Bell, Sheps Center for Health Services Research
Beverly Garcia, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Neasha Graves, Institute for the Environment
Amy Grissom, Office of Sponsored Research
Daniel Harper, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
Jacqueline Marshall, FPG Child Development Institute
Mark Maskell, Division of Comparative Medicine
Randy Randolph, Sheps Center for Health Services Research
John Spencer, Carolina Population Center
Julia Thorp, Sheps Center for Health Services Research
Christine Wagner, FPG Child Development Institute
Sherri Williams, FPG Child Development Institute

20 Years
David Batson, Highway Safety Research Center
Jennifer Baucom, FPG Child Development Institute
Aysenil Belger, FPG Child Development Institute
Kathryn Carrier, Carolina Population Center
Brian Frizzelle, Carolina Population Center
Thomas Leggett, FPG Child Development Institute
David Lewis, Institute of Marine Sciences
Jennifer Moore, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
Catherine Rohweder, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Eric Savage, FPG Child Development Institute

Inside UNC Research

two people dressed in PPE hold  tubes full of blood and take notes

Be the Solution: Accelerating Research for COVID-19

While most people are sheltering in place and doing their part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, UNC researchers, experts, scientists, and staff are fervently working to find solutions to save lives, reduce suffering, and safely reopen the state, nation, and world. Behind the CDC and NIH, Carolina is currently producing the most COVID-19 research in the nation.

To speed the efforts underway and support the university's existing and evolving COVID-19 research, the OVCR has partnered with the University Development Office to launch the UNC COVID-19 Research Accelerator Fund, which provides critical, unrestricted support to UNC's world-renowned research teams. The new fund will eliminate roadblocks and cut through barriers to deliver the resources needed to mitigate this pandemic and prepare us for the next one.

The breadth and depth of Carolina's COVID-19 research is astounding but not surprising: UNC has been a leader in pandemic research for decades, from pioneering treatments for infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS to leading novel testing and development of antiviral therapies and vaccines for emerging threats like Ebola, Zika, and coronavirus. Now, Carolina is tackling the COVID-19 crisis head-on through expertise in microbiology, immunology, epidemiology, pharmacology, and on-campus specialized clinical care for lungs and all other systems of the human body.

Research Spotlights

a graphic of yellow antibodies attacking a purple virus

UNC Team READDI for Next Outbreak

Hosted at UNC, READDI is a new open-science, nonprofit drug research and development organization that seeks to combat virus families that cause the majority of the world's epidemics — and pandemics.

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a close-up of a man wearing a mask and looking off into the distance

How Well Do Masks Work?

UNC postdoctoral research fellow Phillip Clapp and the team at the UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma, and Lung Biology are measuring the effectiveness of different masks in filtering air particles.

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a young, masked woman sits on a couch with her cat; another masked young woman sits behind her in the background

At Home: A Common Place for Transmission

UNC infectious disease researcher Jessica Lin is leading a study to address the infection rates of household members living with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

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a teen girl sits on the floor by her bed and stares off into the distance

Self-Compassion Classes Help Teens Cope with COVID-19

UNC psychiatry professor Karen Bluth is helping teens address their anxiety and stress during the pandemic by teaching online, four-week self-compassion classes.

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Upcoming Events


Data Privacy in the Era of COVID-19

Tune into this two-part discussion from the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, which will explore the integration and privacy concerns presented by contact tracing, how current data protection laws address the issue, and potential regulatory changes that might occur in response to the current crisis.

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Creativity Hubs Town Hall

Watch the 2020 Creativity Hubs finalists give short presentations of their project proposals at this Zoom event hosted by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.

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iRODS User Group Meeting

Join the iRODS user community and core development team as they present on use cases, offer live demonstrations, and host open discussions about requested features at this 12th annual event.

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Introducing Research for Me

Unpack the ins and outs of Research for me @UNC, a required part of the IRB application for research that involves direct interaction with human subjects, in this webinar from NC TraCS Institute.

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Summer Institute on Implementation Science

Hear from international speakers about implementation practice skills and competencies and how to support implementation during the COVID-19 pandemic in this virtual event hosted by the School of Social Work and FPG Child Development Institute.

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By the Numbers


experiment asking people to share small, positive moments with strangers increased people's overall positivity and brought more meaning to their lives. More…


Ecuadorian residents live in the Galápagos Islands, where UNC researchers study human-environment interactions at the Galápagos Science Center. More…