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News Briefs

For immediate use

July 24, 2007

Autism research honored with James J. Gallagher Dissertation Award

A dissertation examining how early literacy skills develop in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has earned Elizabeth Lanter the James J. Gallagher Dissertation Award from FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lanter is a doctoral student in the division of Speech & Hearing Sciences in UNC’s School of Medicine.

Despite an explosion in the emphasis on literacy skills among general and special education students in the nation’s public schools, there has been very little attention to early literacy among children with ASD. Research suggests that children with ASD display different early language and literacy-related behaviors prior to independent reading than children with typical development. This research will provide educators an increased understanding of the early literacy profiles in children with ASD, and may help them more successfully collaborate with parents with regard to early literacy skill development.

Lanter will use the $2,500 award to assist her study, including providing books for participants. The Gallagher Award honors Dr. Jim Gallagher, who was director of FPG from 1970 to 1987 and continues his research at the Institute. Gallagher’s work over the years has focused on children at both ends of the developmental spectrum – those with disabilities or at-risk conditions and those who are gifted.

FPG contact: Tracy Zimmerman, (919) 966-0867

Chancellor James Moeser receives leadership award

The North Carolina Health Careers Access Program (NC-HCAP) has awarded its 2007 Cecil G. Sheps Leadership Award to UNC’s Chancellor James Moeser. The award, presented at NC-HCAP’s Science Enrichment Preparation program graduation ceremony on July 12, recognizes Moeser’s commitment in the area of diversity.

“Chancellor Moeser’s courageous and transformational leadership parallels to that of NC-HCAP’s founder, Dr. Cecil G. Sheps, and it is fitting that Moeser is this year’s recipient,” said NC-HCAP interim executive director Patrena N. Benton.

NC-HCAP created the leadership award to recognize entities or individuals who have proactively sought out and implemented strategies to increase underrepresented minorities in a health sciences discipline and/or who have worked in partnership with NC-HCAP to supports its mission and activities.

Established by Sheps in 1971, NC-HCAP is an inter-institutional program of the University of North Carolina system designed to increase the number of underrepresented minority students who successfully pursue health careers.

NC Health Careers Access Program contact: Renee Harris, (919) 966-2264,

Fulton Crews awarded distinguished investigator honor

Dr. Fulton Crews, director of the UNC Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies and a professor of pharmacology and psychiatry in the UNC School of Medicine, has received the 2007 Distinguished Investigator Award for Scientific Excellence given annually by the Research Society on Alcoholism. In winning the award, Crews received $30,000 to further his research.

The annual award is given to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to alcohol research. Crews’ research indicates that cortical brain regions involved in impulse control and planning are damaged during binge drinking and thereby promote progression to dependence. Crews discovered that risk factors for alcoholism such as genetics and adolescence contribute to increased binge drinking-induced brain damage.  His recent work also suggests that regeneration of brain tissue occurs during recovery from addiction and is consistent with brain structural changes contributing to addiction and recovery from addiction.  

School of Medicine contact: Stephanie Crayton, (919) 966-2860 or

UNC Lineberger scientist receives grants to study health disparities and bioethics

Dr. Jeffrey Peppercorn, assistant professor of medicine in the UNC School of Medicine’s division of hematology and oncology, has received two grants. One is the American Society of Clinical Oncology Foundation Career Development Award in Health Disparities in Breast Cancer. Peppercorn’s grant, $200,000 over three years, was one of fourteen given in the U.S.

Additionally, Peppercorn was named a Greenwall Foundation Faculty Scholar in Bioethics. The Greenwall Foundation, established in 1949, is an independent foundation recognized nationally for its interdisciplinary program in bioethics. Peppercorn’s three-year grant is for $300,000, and he was selected as one of two scholars in the U.S. in 2007 for his research related to access to experimental therapy in oncology.  

UNC Lineberger contact: Dianne Shaw, (919) 966-7834 or