Education
Elizabeth City State Named Top Veteran-Friendly School PDF Print E-mail
Education
By Administrator   
Monday, 24 May 2021 09:32

U.S. Veterans Magazine has released the results of its 2021 Best of the Best Top Veteran-Friendly Schools and Elizabeth City State University has been named a Top Veteran-Friendly School.

According to the magazine’s announcement, the Best of the Best rankings included not only universities, but also businesses and organizations serving veterans. Each category, such as businesses and franchises, were included in a nationwide poll that included 1,000 organizations.

ECSU has been working under the direction of Military and Veterans Affairs Director Tim Freeman to provide services to the men and women, and their families, who either have served or currently serve in the nation’s armed forces. The university’s Military and Veterans Affairs Center is located at ECSU’s Student Affairs headquarters in Griffin Hall.

“We are proud to serve our military members and give them and their families an opportunity to pursue a degree at ECSU,” said Mr. Freeman. 

The center is a space for military and veteran students, and their dependents, to not only find assistance on campus, but also veterans’ affairs guidance. A representative from the Department of Veterans Affairs in Norfolk, Virginia, frequently comes to campus to work with students and with members of the military based in the area.

The center is outfitted with a lounge, a television, and computers, giving students a place to relax, study, and seek military and university related services and guidance.

ECSU has also worked to expand its degree program offerings, creating online programs that allow service members and their families the opportunity to earn a degree no matter where they are stationed. The university currently offers online degrees in interdisciplinary studies and homeland security. ECSU also has an online master’s degree program in elementary education.

ECSU recently announced its VikingPlus program, a comprehensive set of initiatives to help students afford a high-quality college education. The university will award new funds under VikingPlus this year and has already provided a total of nearly $4.2 million in free credits, additional emergency funding, and housing and meal plan grants since spring 2020.

ECSU has been the recent recipient of a number of prestigious university rankings, including placing fourth in the nation on Best College’s top 10 HBCU list. The university has also received the Military Times list of Best Colleges, number 12 on the U.S. News and World Report Best HBCU in the Nation list, and the number one most affordable public HBCU in the nation by Student Loan Hero.RE.

Last Updated on Monday, 24 May 2021 09:33
 
Duke Researchers Discuss New Vaccine That Can Help Prevent Future Pandemics PDF Print E-mail
Education
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 19 May 2021 10:18

A new vaccine under development at Duke University has the potential to protect against a broad variety of coronavirus infections that move from animals to humans, now and in the future.

The new vaccine – called a pan-coronavirus vaccine - has been 100 percent effective in non-human tests including testing on primates. Success in primates is very relevant to humans.

On Monday, two key researchers on the vaccine development project spoke with reporters about their findings thus far and their hopes that this vaccine could eventually give a dramatic boost to the current vaccines combatting COVID-19.uTube.

Here are excerpts:

Kevin Saunders, director of research, Duke Human Vaccine Institute

ON HOW THE NEW DUKE VACCINE WORKS

“What this vaccine does, it takes a small part of the virus, the part of the virus that attaches to the cells, and it presents multiple copies of that to the immune system. That allows the immune system to focus a response against that part of the virus, preventing the virus from being able to attach to cells, and hopefully preventing subsequent infection.”

“What we found in this study is that we got antibodies -- this is the part of the immune system that can attach to viruses and prevent infection -- we got that part of the immune system stimulated such that it was able to bind to not only SARS-CoV-2, but also to coronaviruses that circulate in animals.”

Dr. Bart Haynes, director, Duke Human Vaccine Institute

“We’ve worked for the past almost 20 years now … to develop an HIV vaccine. ... When the epidemic broke in early 2020 in the United States, we asked, ‘What could we do that would help Operation Warp Speed and the already five or six vaccine developers that the government was funding?”

“We knew the SARS-CoV-2 virus was an RNA virus – that means the kind of genetic material it uses – and has the same kind of genetic material the HIV virus uses. The HIV virus is one of the most rapidly evolving life forms that we know, because RNA viruses tend to make mistakes as they replicate. And we knew the SARS-CoV-2 virus would also develop mutants that would escape our immune system as our immune system made antibodies against it.”

“We decided to (shift) all these years of work from HIV to the coronavirus vaccine work and work on vaccines that would be useful as boosters in case we need it to make the immune response stronger. We are now discussing these kinds of possibilities for boosting the existing vaccines.”

“And secondly, for dealing with … variants of the SARS-CoV-2 that would evolve.”

“And then third, now is the time to plan for the next coronavirus pandemic or outbreak. We’ve had two major outbreaks before COVID-19, one in 2003, the SARS outbreak, and one in 2011, the MERS outbreak. Both coronaviruses. And certainly we expect others. So now is the time to provide the vaccine that will prepare for those.”

ON MOVING TO HUMAN TRIALS

Haynes

“We’re concerned that the antibody response is not going to be long-lived enough so that we’ll never have to be boosted again. We’re expecting that in one year or two years, there’s a good chance the population of the United States will have to be boosted again. We’re working to get this particular vaccine candidate made … so it can be put into humans in what’s called a phase 1 safety trial and get it through that trial as quickly as possible.”

ON A VACCINE MAKING MULTIPLE COPIES OF CELLS

Saunders

“Our immune cells are actually engineered to be able to see multiple copies. So they respond well to things like viruses because the viruses have multiple copies of the thing they’re looking for.”

“It’s very similar to Velcro. If you think of one hook and loop, that’s a pretty weak interaction. But if you can put one hook and loop together multiple times with multiple copies, that becomes a really strong interaction. By doing that with our nanoparticle platform, and interacting with the immune cell, we believe we can get a better activation of the immune system and hopefully generate a better response.”

ON THE EXCITEMENT OF VACCINE DISCOVERY

Saunders

“The spotlight is on vaccine development right now. People who were not necessarily focused on what we did before this pandemic are really paying attention to it. It’s a great time to talk about science and careers in science. There’s just been an eye opening to the field in general.”

“From a scientific standpoint, we’ve seen a lot of achievements and a lot of milestones reached that we probably would have never thought were possible. To move a vaccine so quickly through phase 1 and phase 2 and phase 3 testing and make it into emergency use over the short period of time it took … was unprecedented. To be able to make that many doses that quickly is also unprecedented. There’s been some advances in technology and some advances in how the clinical trials were conducted that really changed the way the vaccine development field has moved.”

Haynes

“This has been an incredibly exciting time. This is what we do.”

“Our job is to prepare for pandemics. We’re already preparing for what might be the next pandemic. One of the ones we’re very concerned about is the bird flu, or avian flu … which has the capability but hasn’t completely jumped to humans.”

“Whether it’s another coronavirus … or with influenza or yet another type of outbreak, that’s what the vaccine institute is here for. It’s a very exciting time.”

ON GOVERNMENT FUNDING AND INTEREST

Haynes

“The NIH is very concerned about this issue and preparing for the next pandemic. We’ve had two pandemics before, SARS and MERS, over the last 20 years. And vaccines were made but those epidemics died out before they got to the pandemic stage, and interest in moving those vaccines stopped. I think we’ve all learned now with this particular pandemic that now is the time to prepare for the next time so we can have vaccines on the shelf or vaccines that can be developed very rapidly and deployed very rapidly.”

ON WHETHER PANDEMICS ARE GETTING WORSE

Saunders

“I don’t have any evidence the next coronavirus pandemic will be the same or worse than SARS-CoV-2. I think hopefully we will have monitoring in place to quarantine and hopefully control outbreaks a little bit better so they don’t become pandemics. Given our current experience, hopefully there will be some measures put in place.”

“I’m hopeful we’ll have measures that would be able to prevent another pandemic while the vaccines … are being made. But I don’t have any evidence the virus is becoming easier to spread, or more transmissible, or more virulent.”

ON A BEST-CASE TIMELINE FOR THE NEW VACCINE

Haynes

“We’re working hard to get the material made. The limiting factor is getting the material made in what’s called ‘good manufacturing practice conditions’ to make it safe for putting it into humans. The bottom line is we’re trying to get this made as soon as possible so it can have some sort of positive impact in the current epidemic/pandemic while we’re waiting on figuring out if we’ll be able to use it as a booster, and if a booster is going to be needed.”

The experts:
Dr. Bart Haynes
Dr. Bart Haynes is a professor of medicine and immunology at the Duke School of Medicine and director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. His research focuses on immunology, retrovirology and HIV vaccine development.
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Kevin Saunders
Kevin Saundersis an associate professor of surgery at the Duke University School of Medicine. He is also director of research at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, where he oversees the design of proteins used in vaccines.
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 May 2021 10:21
 
Duke University Upping Efforts To Convert Research Into Societal Impact PDF Print E-mail
Education
By Administrator   
Thursday, 13 May 2021 09:23

Duke University will be enhancing the ability of faculty and staff to bring their scientific ideas into the marketplace and create new economic opportunities for the region and the nation.

Effective July 1, the university’s Research Translation and Commercialization effort (RTC) will expand the university’s capacity to accelerate new discoveries and create new companies, therapies and products.

The university of the next century doesn’t just educate and discover, it helps drive the American economy by bringing new innovations to the marketplace,” said Duke University President Vincent E. Price. “We are investing Duke’s resources and building new partnerships with donors and investors to raise our research and our commercialization to new levels.”

The RTC initiative will complement the recently launched Duke Science & Technology fundraising campaign, which is focused on recruiting outstanding research faculty to Duke and building fruitful new collaborations with corporate partners.

The university’s existing Office of Research, currently led by interim Vice President for Research R. Sanders Williams, will become the Office of Research and Innovation as a national search for a new leader is conducted.

The new Office of Research and Innovation will include Research Administration, led by Associate Vice President for Research Christopher Freel; Scientific Integrity, led by Vice Dean and Associate Vice Provost Geeta Swamy, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology; Translation and Commercialization, led by Robin Rasor, the current executive director of Licensing and Ventures; and External Partnerships, an expansion of the corporate relations office which will be conducting a national search for a leader.

The new structure and added investment has grown out of an intensive study by university leadership and the Board of Trustees and a campus-wide conversation with research leaders about creating a more robust, focused effort to bring the best Duke ideas into licensing agreements or startup companies.

I’ve never worked on an initiative where there was as strong a consensus that this ought to be done and that it can be done,” said Williams, who has been in leadership positions at Duke for decades, including Dean of the Medical School and founding Dean of the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore.

By accelerating our efforts to commercialize Duke’s research ideas, we are simultaneously making this a more attractive place for the best faculty and students to work, and helping North Carolina and the United States compete and thrive in the knowledge economy,” said George Truskey, associate vice president for research and innovation.

Technology is rapidly changing how we live, how we work and how we take care of our health,” said A. Eugene Washington, chancellor for health affairs and president and CEO of the Duke University Health System. “By harnessing the power of discovery here at Duke and engaging industry and community partners at home and abroad, we have the potential to improve health care worldwide. Guided by our mission of advancing health together, Duke’s influence can help ensure that the latest advances in medicine and technology benefit not just some, but all of us,” Washington said.

Through the expanded office of External Partnerships, Duke is going to increase its efforts to partner with corporations on major research projects and on the recruitment of Duke graduates.

We’ve never had a clear single point of contact for connecting corporations to faculty with whom they might collaborate on projects of joint interest,” said Provost Sally Kornbluth. “The RTC will provide just such a ‘front door’ to Duke for prospective corporate partners while also providing connections for our graduates who want to build careers here in North Carolina.”

The university will also tap into its global network of alumni to help recruit more C-level leadership talent to the region and to grow the pipeline of investment funding for young companies. Local entrepreneurs often cite shortages of experienced executive talent and investment capital as limiting factors in their growth.

Williams said that RTC will play an important role in raising funds to support endowed professorships that reward faculty for their entrepreneurial efforts as well as their research and teaching, and to provide additional flexible research spaces for new and important work. “We need space for research that is still not-for-profit Duke research, but would then become an idea that is competitive in the marketplace,” Williams said. “We need flexibility and speed.”

Duke’s discoveries and inventions can benefit society best and make the world a better place if they move out of the university and the academic journals and into the wider world, and that usually requires commercialization.” Williams said. “We are going to be engaging more deeply with the private sector to speed up that process.”
  

 
Three NC Students Named Presidential Scholars PDF Print E-mail
Education
By Administrator   
Thursday, 13 May 2021 08:07
U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona today announced the 57th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars, recognizing 161 high school seniors for their accomplishments in academics, the arts and career and technical education fields.
The North Carolina scholars include (hometown, scholar, school, location):
NC – Cary – Pratyush Seshadri, Raleigh Charter High School, Raleigh, North Carolina.
NC – Cary – Nrithya P Renganathan, The North Carolina School of Science & Mathematics, Durham, North Carolina.
NC – Charlotte – Ijay Narang, Ardrey Kell High School, Charlotte, North Carolina.
“The 2021 Presidential Scholars represent extraordinary achievements for our extraordinary times,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “I am delighted to join President Biden in saluting these outstanding young people for their achievements, service, character and continued pursuit of excellence. Their examples make me proud and hopeful about the future. Honoring them can remind us all of the great potential in each new generation and renew our commitment to helping them achieve their dreams.”
The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.
Of the 3.6 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 6,000 candidates qualified for the 2021 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams or through nominations made by Chief State School Officers, other partner recognition organizations and the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts™ program.
As directed by Presidential Executive Order, the 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 Scholars in the arts and 20 Scholars in career and technical education. 
Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored over 7,600 of the nation’s top-performing students. The program was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.
The Presidential Scholars Class of 2021 will be recognized for their outstanding achievement this summer.
A complete list of 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars is also available at http://www.ed.gov/psp. 
 
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