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UNC and NC State collaborate to help heart attack victims

Researchers from UNC and NC State hope drones will soon be able to help save lives by delivering an AED defibrillator to a victim suffering from a heart attack. The idea is to equip first responders to help reduce response time for cardiac arrest victims, particularly those living in rural communities.

The research team is still gathering data, but hopes to soon conduct tests in real life scenarios. This is an exciting, ongoing project that got partial funding from a TraCS/NC State Collaborative Grant.


CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Researchers from UNC and NC State hope drones will soon be able to help save lives.

  • During flight tests Tuesday, they wanted to see how quickly a drone could deliver an AED defibrillator to a victim, suffering from a heart attack.
  • The idea is to equip first responders to help reduce response time for cardiac arrest victims, particularly those living in rural communities.
  • Researchers have to work with the weather and amid concerns people have about devices flying over their heads.

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Clinical data reach grows with STAR CRN

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a member of the Mid-South Clinical Data Research Network (Mid-South CDRN) under the leadership of Tim Carey, MD, MPH (UNC site PI; Network Co-PI). The network is a collaborative effort among a group of large health care systems to support and conduct innovative comparative effectiveness research and pragmatic clinical trials.

Recently the network welcomed two new members – the Mayo Clinic, which has locations around the country, and Wake Forest Baptist Health, an affiliate of Wake Forest University, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina – and is in the process of changing its name to Stakeholders, Technology, and Research Clinical Research Network, or STAR CRN.

The network, which is one of several founded in 2014 with funding from the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet), was recently awarded $3.2 million of additional infrastructure funding from the People-Centered Research Foundation (PCRF).

The new organization, led by Russell Rothman, MD, MPP (Network PI) of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, includes over 65 hospitals and 500 clinics with electronic health record data on over 14 million people.

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A statewide network to help detect cardiovascular disease risk

Samuel Cykert, MD

Samuel Cykert, MD, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues created a statewide network of health care professionals in 219 small primary care practices. Researchers examined existing electronic health records for 345,440 patients. They used an estimation methodology including data from the 236,925 patients who had cholesterol numbers in their electronic health records to determine the risk for developing cardiovascular disease among the 108,515 patients lacking cholesterol scores.

The researchers found that using the formal imputation method based on other available indicators, such as smoking status, hypertension, weight, diabetes status, and gender, 43,205 patients with missing cholesterol values were identified with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk scores ≥10 percent versus 40,565 with risk scores ≥10 percent identified using the "good value" methodology, which inserts conservative values for missing total cholesterol (170 mg/dl) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (50 mg/dl). The formal imputation method yielded a lower specificity and a higher false-positive rate than the conservative estimates used in the good value methodology.

"Whether doctors are part of a large health system or in a small rural practice, the fact that all these patients have digital data now means we can identify patients who are at high risk of developing a very serious condition without waiting six months for them to make an appointment," Cykert said in a statement. "Doctors can engage with these patients immediately and re-engage with them as needed to decrease risk, which is so crucial when it comes to decreasing the number of heart attacks and strokes."

More information: Abstract/Full Text

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The lone scientist problem, and how two Carolina professors are addressing it

Robert Hummer - UNC, talks to course participants
Robert Hummer, a Howard W. Odum Distinguished Professor of Sociology and fellow at the Carolina Population Center, teaches a course on how to integrate the social and biological sciences on November 12, 2018, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
(Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Two Carolina professors are combining their distinct areas of expertise to help students address some of the toughest health issues of our time.

Good science is a team sport — especially when it comes to addressing health disparities.

That's the foundation of a new UNC-Chapel Hill research training program that challenges students to explore both the biological and social factors that influence health in the United States.

Led by sociologist Robert Hummer and epidemiologist Allison Aiello, the Biosocial Training Program funds seven graduate and post-doctoral students this year as they study some of the most pressing health issues of our time. The program, funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, is housed in the Carolina Population Center.

"This kind of work can't just be done by a single person," Hummer said. "People can't sit under trees and think big thoughts and produce great science. That's not how it works anymore. You have to have training across disciplines."

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