Campus briefs

Oct. 03, 2013 @ 01:13 PM

Faculty/Staff Achievements

  • Dr. Amy Abernethy, associate professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, was named one of the 30 most influential leaders in hospice and palliative medicine, the medical specialty focused on relieving suffering and improving quality of life for people with serious illnesses. The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine asked its 5,000 members to nominate who they think are leaders in the field.
  • Dr. Fan Wang, an associate professor in cell biology and neurobiology within Duke School of Medicine, has been awarded one of 12 National Institutes of Health Pioneer Awards this year. The recipients are challenged to develop high-risk, high-impact investigations in biomedical or behavioral research. Wang studies the neural basis of the sense of touch, using mouse whiskers as a model system.
  • Duke Medicine has been named a Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU) by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, to evaluate vaccines, treatments and diagnostics to protect people from infectious diseases, including emerging public health needs. Duke was the only new site named since 2007 to the existing group of eight VTEUs. Each institution has the potential to receive an estimated $135 million in annual funding over a 7-year period, according to Duke Medicine. Duke's VTEU research will be administered through the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, which already has programs developing vaccines for HIV, flu, tuberculosis, dengue and others.
  • The Duke Cancer Institute has named Thomas and Janet Kean of Norwood and Nick Valvano of Cary, president emeritus of The V Foundation for Cancer Research, as the 2013 recipients of the Shingleton Award. The award recognizes the outstanding service and generosity of individuals who are committed to the war against cancer.


  • Trustees of The Duke Endowment private grant-making foundation have approved a $3.4 million grant to help four schools in the Carolinas collaborate on increasing student resilience, according to Duke University. Davidson College, Duke University and Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina, and Furman University in South Carolina will use the four-year grant to study resiliency on each campus and pilot interventions to enhance it. With today's college students reporting extreme levels of stress and anxiety, this effort will focus on ways that campuses can build "resiliency," which the project defines as the ability to thrive despite adversity and difficult circumstances, according to the university.
  • The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has awarded $200,000 to a group of scientists and engineers from N.C. Central University, Duke University and N.C. State University to purchase a Dip Pen Nanolithography unit, a device that functions as a 3-D printer at the molecular level. The device can print organic, inorganic and biological materials, including proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, hydrogels, alkanethiols, silanes, polymers and nanoparticles, in complex user-defined patterns, according to NCCU.

Power player: Stefan Weathers

Weathers is a 21-year-old political science senior at N.C. Central University this fall and is nearing his fifth month as president of the NCCU Student Government Association.

He and NCCU's student body vice president, Norman Jones, are spreading awareness around campus this semester about recent changes to North Carolina voter legislation, which college students say restricts their right to vote.

Q. You and Norman Jones released a statement against the voter ID bill shortly after its passage. Why send out a community-wide message?

A. The reason we felt compelled to send out a community-wide message was to provide the spark for something greater to come. We understand the contents of House Bill 589 are a complete disservice to the students of North Carolina, and especially the students of North Carolina Central University. We wanted the community and all students to know that we don't have time to sit quietly on the sidelines while the rules to the "game" continue to change on us. We have an obligation to fight against any form of injustice, regardless of the rationale behind it (voter legislation).

Q. What is being done now in SGA to make students aware of the voting changes before the municipal election?

A. We began a meme campaign to build awareness among our student body. We specifically used memes, which are pictures with word or sentence captions that highlight the behavior in the picture, because we understood that our students would respond to that. … In addition, we have been in contact with the director of the Durham County Board of Elections and he has agreed to have members come to campus to educate students and also help register. We have also planned a forum discussion with Congressman G.K. Butterfield on Oct. 8 incorporating the 10 other historically black colleges and universities in North Carolina. We have been in contact with six of the 10 so far. This discussion will be had using smart telepresence, teleconferencing technology.

Power player: Norman Jones, NCCU student vice president

A: We as an association were intent on finding ways that we could create awareness to put an end to what we perceive as an injustice. We see House Bill 589 as a direct attack on North Carolina Central University students and residents of North Carolina. We believe it is critical that we, as students and a community, collectively come together and raise our voices against what we believe are ways (that) will suppress the rights of students and others. 

As a nation and state, we have grown significantly over the past 50 years and the passing of such legislation would set us back. As student leaders of North Carolina Central University, we will continue the legacy of advocating for our peers while attacking legislation and other activities that we feel are unjust. We follow in the footsteps of activists and NCCU alumni who were leaders on our campus while they were students, such as the late Chancellor Emeritus Julius L. Chambers and North Carolina State Representative Henry “Mickey” Michaux.