Announcing UNC/MAHEC Academic Partnership Awards

The first round of UNC/MAHEC Academic Partnership Awards will support three projects aimed at enhancing research and clinical collaboration among the two institutions. In 2016 and 2017, the state of North Carolina awarded funding to the UNC School of Medicine and the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) to establish UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC.

The first round of UNC/MAHEC Academic Partnership Awards will support three projects aimed at enhancing research and clinical collaboration among the two institutions. In 2016 and 2017, the state of North Carolina awarded funding to the UNC School of Medicine and the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) to establish UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC.

The partnership awards have been established to expand the academic and clinical partnerships between the UNC School of Medicine and MAHEC. Awards are for a maximum of $50,000 and are annually renewable for up to three years.

“We envision these projects as a way to deepen the already strong partnership between UNC and MAHEC,” said Jeff Heck, MD, President and CEO of MAHEC. “We believe that we are laying a foundation that will have an enduring impact on Western North Carolina communities.”

The three projects funded this year include a surgical education project, a project aimed at reducing health disparities, and an initiative to improve OB/GYN care across the states.

A bit more about each project:

General Surgery Education Partnership:

This project, led by Jason Crowner, MD, Assistant Professor, Division of Vascular Surgery and Michael Schurr, Surgical Program Director at MAHEC and Mission Health Trauma Surgeon, aims to coordinate ongoing efforts to disseminate practices in education between UNC School of Medicine and MAHEC while developing new educational programs specifically focused around resiliency in surgical residents,, simulation lab training, and developing teaching/leadership skills in surgical residents. 

Addressing Health Equity:

The project, led by Crystal Wiley Cené, MD, MPH, Associate Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine, and Elizabeth Buys, MD, Director of OB/GYN at MAHEC, will strive to enhance health equity and reduce health care disparities at MAHEC and UNC by leveraging unique strengths and resources through faculty and resident development opportunities that span research, implementation, and medical education.

OB/GYN Partnership:

This project is led by Sarah Verbiest, Executive Director, UNC Center for Maternal and Infant Health at UNC, Dan Frayne, MD, Department of Family Medicine at MAHEC and Arthur Ollendorff, MD, OB/GYN at MAHEC and lead for the Perinatal Quality Collaborative of NC (PQCNC).  The proposal is focused on enhancing faculty and residents’ knowledge and practice in preconception care and wellness, advancing equity, and engaging consumers/ community groups.

The group will learn together through grand rounds, attend equity trainings together, and advisory group gatherings, building closer professional and personal relationships, which in turn will support ongoing partnership, research and clinical care improvements. It is anticipated that these relationships will grow beyond the current project to address a variety of critical topics in North Carolina over time, including regionalization, Medicaid system changes, and maternal mortality/morbidity reviews. 

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The aim of the UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC campus is to provide expert health profession education in Western North Carolina through collaboration between Mountain AHEC and the health profession schools at UNC Chapel Hill.  There are branch campuses of the UNCCH School of Medicine, Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and Gillings School of Global Public Health located on the MAHEC campus in Asheville.  Robust research partnerships and other faculty integration opportunities enhance the benefits to the academic environment, health profession work force development, and population health in the western part of the state.  

The aim of the UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC campus is to provide expert health profession education in Western North Carolina through collaboration between Mountain AHEC and the health profession schools at UNC Chapel Hill.  There are branch campuses of the UNCCH School of Medicine, Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and Gillings School of Global Public Health located on the MAHEC campus in Asheville.  Robust research partnerships and other faculty integration opportunities enhance the benefits to the academic environment, health profession work force development, and population health in the western part of the state.  

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