Top 10 Stories for 2015

Count down the top 10 most popular stories from our news team based on page views. We'll see you in 2016!

Mark Zylka

UNC scientists pinpoint how a single genetic mutation increases autism risk

In December of 2014, researchers identified more than 1,000 gene mutations in individuals with autism, but how these mutations increased risk for autism was unclear. In August, UNC School of Medicine researchers were the first to show how one of these mutations disables a molecular switch in one of the genes and causes autism.

An up-close fluorescent image of the microneedle patch with insulin tagged in green. (Courtesy of Zhen Gu, PhD)

Smart insulin patch could replace painful injections for diabetes

Painful injections could become a thing of the past for the millions of Americans suffering from diabetes, thanks to a new invention from researchers at UNC and NC State. In June, the researchers outlined how their “smart insulin patch” can detect increases in blood sugar levels and secrete doses of insulin into the bloodstream whenever needed.

Dr. Peter Voorhees (L) and Danny Talbott joke during a recent appointment. Photo by Hannah Crain/UNC Health Care.

Priceless Gem

Carolina legend Danny Talbott performed at the highest level on both the football field and baseball diamond during his years as a Tar Heel. Since 2010, he’s been back in Chapel Hill, battling the toughest opponent he’s faced: multiple myeloma. Fighting the disease hasn’t been easy, but there’s no other place he’d rather be treated than at UNC.

Colin Thompson takes a drink from the Old Well, a UNC tradition. Photo by Max Englund/UNC Health Care

Your Excuse or Your Story

In the summer of 2014, Colin Thompson was on his way home to Houston from summer camp when he was involved in a life-threatening accident and air-lifted to an Austin hospital. Colin has recently completed his first semester as a student at UNC and receives care as an outpatient at the UNC Center for Rehabilitation Care.

Karl celebrates earning his white coat with his children.

Green Beret, White Coat

As a Green Beret medic, Karl Holt saved the lives of others during a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2009. He nearly lost his life that night, and spent years recovering from his injuries. Today, he is on his way to becoming a physician, and hopes that his experiences will help other veterans as they transition into civilian life.

Today Eric is making the most of the opportunity the UNC School of Medicine has given him and looking forward to providing care and conducting research that one day helps pediatric hematology/oncology patients. Photo by Max Englund/UNC Health Care.

A Good Heart

Eric Strand was a Green Beret medic who served three tours of duty in Iraq. He fought and beat lymphoma. Now, the third-year medical student is looking forward to providing care and conducting research that may one day help pediatric hematology/oncology patients.

Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, PhD (Photo by Max Englund/UNC Health Care)

Genetically speaking, mammals are more like their fathers

You may resemble your mother, but a novel research study published in March by UNC School of Medicine researchers reveals that, although we inherit equal amounts of genetic mutations from our parents, the mutations that make us who we are use more of the DNA we inherit from our dads.

Frederick Burroughs, MD, the first board-eligible African American physician in Wake County /Photo by Max Englund, UNC Health Care

A Legacy of Care

In the late 1960s, when Frederick Burroughs, MD, opened his practice in Southeast Raleigh, he was the first Board Eligible African-American pediatrician in Wake County. It’s a distinction he’s proud of, but it doesn’t come close to defining his career in medicine. His full impact can be seen in his former patients and the medical students who trained under him.

Richard Wolfenden, PhD, and Charles Carter, PhD (Photo by Max Englund/UNC Health Care)

New evidence emerges on the origins of life on Earth

In the beginning, there were simple chemicals. And they produced amino acids that eventually became the proteins necessary to create single cells. In June, UNC researchers Richard Wolfenden, PhD, and Charles Carter, PhD, shed new light on the transition from amino acid building blocks into life some 4 billion years ago.

Aziz Sancar, PhD (Photo by Max Englund)

UNC researchers create DNA repair map of the entire human genome

The research project – led by 2015 Nobel Prize recipient Aziz Sancar – can help scientists find the precise locations of repair of DNA damage caused by UV radiation and common chemotherapies. This work could lead to better cancer drugs or improvements in the potency of existing ones.

2015 snowglobes

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