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People Briefs

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Dec. 11, 2007

UNC cardiology researcher receives National Established Investigator Award

Dr. Da-Zhi Wang, an assistant professor in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, has been selected to receive a National Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association.

The award provides $500,000 in funding over a 5-year period for a research project headed by Wang that will investigate molecular regulation of cardiac gene expression and cardiomyocyte development.

“This award is further acknowledgement that Dr. Wang is one of the best cardiovascular scientists in the country, and it reflects UNC’s commitment to find causes and cures for heart disease,” said Dr. Cam Patterson, chief of the division of cardiology in UNC’s School of Medicine.

Congenital heart defects represent one of the most common classes of birth defects, and cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of human mortality. The thorough understanding of the mechanisms that control early heart formation will be an important prelude to the development of strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of congenital cardiac defects.

“Understanding the mechanisms that control the early events in heart development will also have relevance to adult heart disease, such as cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure, which seems to use similar regulatory mechanisms,” Wang said.

National Established Investigator Award Web site:

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

UNC names first Working on Women in Science scholars

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has named the first fellows in the Working on Women in Science program, a campus-wide initiative to foster the advancement of women in science and medicine.

“Many women enter science as students but too few stay in academic careers to assume positions of leadership,” said Dr. Etta Pisano, vice dean for academic affairs in UNC’s School of Medicine.

“I am confident that our first WOWS Scholars will make important contributions to our goal — promoting the professional advancement of women in the sciences,” said Karen Gil, senior associate dean for social sciences in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

The fellows are Laurie McNeil and Jane Hawkins from the College, Margaret Leigh from the School of Medicine and Rosalind Coleman from the schools of Medicine and Public Health.

McNeil, professor and chair of the department of physics and astronomy, is a condensed matter/materials physicist, specializing in optical spectroscopy of semiconductors and insulators.

Hawkins, professor of mathematics, works on the mathematical theory of physical or abstract objects that change over time. She is also working on a mathematical model of the spread of HIV in a lymph node.

Coleman, a professor of nutrition and pediatrics, focuses on the use of biochemical and molecular techniques to study glycerolipid metabolism and the regulation of triacylglycerol and phospholipid synthesis in liver. 

Leigh, a professor and vice chair of pediatrics in the School of Medicine, has long been a world leader in the study of airway disorders in children, ranging from cystic fibrosis to primary ciliary dyskinesia. She has and continues to serve in national leadership roles for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

For more information about WOWS, visit:

Photo: For a photo, click on

UNC public relations professor honored as pioneer in new media

Craig Carroll, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication, has been honored as a pioneer in new media by a think tank based in Palo Alto, Calif., that focuses on emerging communications technology.

Carroll, who teaches public relations in the school and specializes in corporate reputation and the media, received the 2007 Society for New Communications Research Award of Excellence in the education category at a Dec. 5 ceremony in Boston.

The award recognizes individuals and organizations that are pioneering the use of new technologies in media, marketing, public relations, advertising, entertainment, education, politics and social initiatives.

Carroll was recognized for exposing students to the latest digital media analysis tools and moving undergraduate work from the classroom to the field. His 90 students evaluated the online reputations of 18 national nonprofit organizations including Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the American Cancer Society and the Special Olympics.

School of Journalism and Mass Communication contact: Kyle York, (919) 966-3323 or

Kearns, Ellison join Carolina Performing Arts board

UNC alumnus Tom Kearns of New York, N.Y., and Jane Roughton Ellison of Greensboro recently were appointed chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Carolina Performing Arts National Advisory Board at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The duo replaces Jim Heavner of Chapel Hill, president of VilCom Inc., and special events marketer and documentary filmmaker Barbara Lee of Aspen, Colo.

“Jim Heavner and Barb Lee would be a hard act for anyone to follow,” said Emil Kang, UNC’s executive director for the arts. “However, we are thrilled to welcome Tom and Jane as our new chair and vice chair. Their commitment and talents are already taking Carolina Performing Arts to the next level of national and international influence.”

Kearns, a self-employed investment banking consultant, is a retired partner of The Bear Stearns Companies Inc. and director of FibroGen Inc., a private San Francisco-based biotechnology company. He graduated from UNC in 1958 and was the starting point guard on the 1957 men’s basketball national championship team.

Ellison graduated from Salem College in Winston-Salem and the Inchbald School of Design in London. After working with Conde Nast design publications in New York, she joined The Design Collection, an interior design firm in Greensboro. She is active in organizations including Greensboro Music Academy and the Weatherspoon Museum of UNC-Greensboro.

Carolina Performing Arts Web site:

Carolina Performing Arts contact: Kara Larson, (919) 966-3834

News Services contacts: Clinton Colmenares, (919) 843-1991 or; Susan Houston, (919) 962-8415 or; LJ Toler (919) 962-8589