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Michael G. Kurilla Joins NCATS as Clinical Innovation Director

Michael Gregory Kurilla, M.D., Ph.D.
Michael Gregory Kurilla, M.D., Ph.D.

Michael Gregory Kurilla, M.D., Ph.D., will direct the NCATS Division of Clinical Innovation beginning Dec. 10, 2017. Kurilla's new role will include leading the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program, which supports innovative solutions that advance the efficiency, quality and impact of translational science with the ultimate goal of getting more treatments to more patients more quickly. As the largest NIH initiative, the CTSA Program supports a national network of medical research institutions that work together to tackle system-wide scientific and operational problems in clinical and translational research that no one team can overcome.

Kurilla currently serves as director of the Office of BioDefense, Research Resources and Translational Research at NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), where he also has been involved with biodefense product development. Prior to joining NIAID in 2003, Kurilla was an associate director for infectious diseases at Wyeth. He also worked at Dupont in antimicrobials, and on molecular pathology at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center.

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UNC sophomore researching the use of AI to identify early signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia

Sophomore Sweta Karlekar is an undergraduate researcher majoring in computer science within the UNC College of Arts and Sciences. She is also a Chancellor's Science Scholar. Her research focuses on building an artificial intelligence program that can automatically identify early signs of Alzheimer's disease and dementia through a person's speech.

Sweta Karlekar working on laptop at UNC
photo by Alyssa LaFaro

When you were a child, what was your response to this question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

I always wanted to be a doctor. My first chapter books were encyclopedias, and I used to walk around with science trivia books in my backpack. I thought I would hate computer science, and never gave it a fair shot until high school. Freshman year, I took my first computer science class and fell in love. I haven't looked back since.

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Cradles of Love


UNC researcher partners with NC State industrial design students to create innovative new bassinet

With the growing trend of keeping newborns in their mother's hospital room post-delivery, hospitals must ensure that mothers are able to safely transfer their babies from and back to the bassinet for feeding, other care, and sleeping. A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researcher hopes to help that effort.

During doctoral work at Durham University in England, Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute research associate Kristin Tully led a study in which "side-car" bassinets attached to the side of the hospital bed improved the mother-newborn experience, including reducing risks for infants. A few hospitals globally have adopted these type of hospital infant bassinets. With no equivalent in the U.S., Tully decided to create her own version.

Tully's program of research includes observational work, studying mothers and babies with infra-red cameras in the hospital and at home to study patterns of behavior and breastfeeding.

"That's how this project came about – thinking about the patients and wanting to support the realization of their infant feeding goals"

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Carolina creates UNC Institute for Convergent Science

Rich Superfine, chair of the department of applied physical sciences, discusses how faculty are integrating campus makerspaces into their course curricula. Photo by Lars Sahl.

With the Institute for Convergent Science, Carolina will lead the world in bringing scientific expertise together to improve people's lives, Chancellor Carol L. Folt said.

"The UNC Institute for Convergent Science will be at the heart of that vision, giving proven convergent thinkers both here and around the globe the tools and space they need to harness the tremendous amount of talent at their disposal," Folt said. "The opportunity is to take that talent and channel it into impact that makes a true difference in the real world."

The University announced the UNC Institute for Convergent Science when it launched its multiyear fundraising campaign, "For All Kind: The Campaign for Carolina," on Oct. 6. The initiative includes the creation of an infrastructure endowment and a building fund to make the institute a reality. Folt said the investment in the Institute for Convergent Science will be returned many times over, on campus and far beyond.

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