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210 Pittsboro Street, Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
(919) 962-2091   FAX: (919) 962-2279


Not for publication

March 5, 2001 -- No. 104

School of Nursing unveils $650,000 renovation to behavioral lab March 6 Ribbon-cutting ceremony

3 p.m. Tuesday (March 6)

UNC School of Nursing Biobehavioral Laboratory, ground floor, Carrington Hall


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing Dean Dr. Linda Cronenwett, Associate Provost Dr. Edward Brooks and faculty representing the school will officially open the new Biobehavioral Laboratory with a March 6 ribbon-cutting ceremony. When the school opened the original lab in 1989, plans were already under way to expand the space. The expanded laboratory, a $650,000 renovation project, has 2,200 square feet – the old lab featured about a third of that space.

The major purpose of the laboratory is to measure biological and physiological markers that signal change in health and to assist nurse scientists in developing interventions to help practicing nurses prevent and manage the consequences of disease.

The renovations will allow nursing faculty to conduct and evaluate much more research on-site, but also develop new, minimally invasive technology to care for individuals outside the hospital.

Some examples of innovative research studies supported by the Biobehavioral Laboratory:

The new lab now houses two fully equipped rooms to evaluate how an individual's sleep may be affected by chronic illness or aging. Dr. Susan Labyak is conducting sleep studies on children with rheumatoid arthritis and how pain might interfere with normal sleep. Similarly, Dr. Barbara Carlson is studying whether disturbances in breathing during sleep can increase one’s risk for cognitive decline.

The expanded laboratory also allows space for the developing new measurement instruments and tools, such as the "smart bottle" designed by lab consultant Dr. Henry Hsaio of the UNC department of bioengineering. The tiny bottle, now under review for patent possibilities, was created to help nurse researcher Dr. Suzanne Thoyre measure premature infant breathing, sucking, and swallowing patterns during feeding. Sensors on the bottle measure carbon dioxide changes during exhalation. Oxygen levels in the blood are also measured in the infants. By timing the breathing rate against the infant’s sucking and swallowing patterns, Thoyre hopes to unravel the mystery of the role that hypoxia, or oxygen loss, during feeding may play in pre-term infant development problems.

The modernized laboratory also will enhance the school’s ability to participate in gene research, said lab director Dr. Virginia Neelon. "There’s still a big jump from genes to gene therapy. But the school is already saying, ‘How can nursing respond to the new knowledge about genes and the genome to improve care of patients?’ "

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School of Nursing contact: Lisa Mincey Ware, (919) 966-1412