Faculty Areas of Interest

Dr. Gary Asher: Collaborating with the Division of Gastroenterology and School of Pharmacy at UNC to test the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of curcumin, a dietary supplement derived from Turmeric root.  The goal is to show the efficacy of curcumin to prevent colorectal cancer in people who are at high risk.

Dr. Sylvia Becker-Dreps: Research focuses on childhood diarrhea and the effectiveness of the rotavirus vaccine in Nicaragua, Central America. In Nicaragua, as in much of the developing world, diarrhea is among the leading causes of childhood mortality (rotavirus infection is the most common cause of childhood diarrhea worldwide). Our study includes determining the effectiveness of rotavirus immunization in the primary care setting and in the community. As an example, in one of our studies, we have followed a randomized sample of 640 children in the community over the course of the year in order to determine the incidence of diarrhea and of diarrhea etiologies.

Dr. Timothy Daaleman: Research focuses on vulnerable adult care and determining ways to improve the quality of care and reduce costs for dually eligible (Medicare/Medicaid) participants.  He is also the Principal Investigator of an NIH study that examines the feasibility and efficacy of a software application to improve older patient-physician communication in primary care.

Drs. Katrina Donahue and Jacqueline Halladay: The overall objective of this study is to evaluate the adoption and process of transformational change in primary care practices belonging to the North Carolina Improving Performance in Practice program (NC IPIP), examine how specific components of the change relate to key health outcomes and explore environmental, organizational and financial conditions that are conducive to transformational change.  The ultimate goal and the significance of this study is to describe the transformation process and arrive at a set of implementable recommendations that can be shared broadly (at local, state and national levels) to assist individual practices and health care organizations moving toward the Patient-Centered Medical Home model.

Dr. Adam Goldstein: The Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program (Adam Goldstein, MD, MPH, Director) integrates comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation services and research (http://www.tpep.unc.edu).  A multidisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians work to identify and disseminate effective strategies for clinic- and hospital-based cessation services and to strengthen North Carolina’s $17 million tobacco prevention initiatives through applied research and evaluation.  As cancer remains North Carolina’s number one cause of death, the Program’s research is an integral part of UNC Health Care and Family Medicine’s fight against cancer.

Dr. Margaret Gourlay: Research program focuses on osteoporosis and fracture prevention.  Dr. Gourlay has collaborated with investigators in the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures to conduct analyses of osteoporosis risk assessment and bone density testing.  The long-term objective of these studies is to help develop an osteoporosis screening protocol for postmenopausal women and men.

Dr. Christine Kistler: Research focuses on clinical decision making in older adults and the appropriateness of those medical decisions.  She is currently examining older adults' preferences towards colorectal cancer screening through discrete choice experiments.  She is also participating in a study to examine the appropriateness of antibiotic usage in long-term care communities.

Dr. Don Pathman: Research projects study operational issues of the recent doubling of the size of the National Health Service Corps with funding from the America's Recovery and Reinvestment Act and health care reform bill. The NHSC is the preeminent federal program addressing the geographic maldistribution of health care providers, and Congress recognized this by doubling its size at a time when access to health care is a national priority. The two research projects are to assess how the NHSC's growth has been handled by states and to assess how well the NHSC is keeping the clinicians it supports in underserved communities after their service obligations.

Dr. Philip Sloane: Two funded projects, one in nursing homes and the other in assisted living, are examining the process of decision-making around ill patients in long-term care.  Federal funding agencies are interested in the topic because of concern about high rates of antibiotic use in these settings, which – if not always necessary – may contribute to both adverse effects and development of antibiotic resistance.  The project involves a quality improvement approach, in which rates and decision-making processes are studied initially, efforts are made to alter patterns of prescribing that may not meet clinical criteria, and data are collected again after the intervention has been carried out.   The study included an evidence-based review of infections in long-term care and identification of nine situations where antibiotics are generally not indicated.  In addition to Dr. Sloane, several other family medicine faculty are key members of the study team, including Christine Khandelwal, MD, Christine Kistler, MD, MS, and Sarah Ford, PharmD.

Dr. Jeffrey Sonis: Research focuses on whether societal mechanisms to promote justice in post-conflict societies, such as human rights tribunals and truth commissions, have a beneficial impact on mental health.  This research is important because the high prevalence of psychological trauma in post-conflict societies suggests that individually-oriented mental health interventions, such as medications or psychotherapy, may not be adequate to meet public mental health needs.  Currently conducting an-NIH sponsored study of Cambodians’ responses to the Khmer Rouge Trials, the first national longitudinal study of its kind.

Dr. Anthony Viera: Research focuses on cardiovascular disease prevention through better identification and control of high blood pressure. His current work is funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. His current R01 grant examines the use of out-of-office blood pressure monitoring techniques, including home blood pressure monitoring, to help guide clinicians' assessments of people's blood pressure status and its implications for their health. To do this, he will have over 400 study participants undergo multiple detailed blood pressure assessments as well as laboratory and radiologic tests.

Dr. Adam Zolotor: Dr. Zolotor's work focuses on child abuse epidemiology and prevention.  He currently serves as the co-PI of the largest evaluation of a shaken baby prevention program ever conducted. He is currently developing a cell phone based parenting program initialy for adolescent parents. The program will include informational videos, nurse case management (phone, text, and email), online and text based peer support, screening and referral for high risk conditions (such as depression).  The program is currently enrolling teens from 3 area adolescent parenting programs to pilot test online and text based peer support.