KANNAPOLIS, NC (WBTV) - It all starts with someone willing to roll up a sleeve, and volunteer…and for Dr. Leonard Williams, there is a compelling reason.
"I had an uncle who passed from a heart attack, massive heart attack a couple of years ago, he never visited the doctor in over ten years," Dr. Williams said. "I believe it could have been prevented."
To better understand the research it will gain from volunteers like Dr. WIlliams, Duke University has completed a significant expansion at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis.
"The Duke team is thrilled by the increase and diversity of studies growing out of our Kannapolis location," said L. Kristin Newby, MD, MHS, Professor of Medicine, Cardiology, Duke University School of Medicine and Principal Investigator for the MURDOCK Study. "Our on-going collaborations with partners across the NC Research Campus, including the David H. Murdock Research Institute and the UNC System to name a few – is evidence of Duke's involvement on this growing campus. We are grateful to the local residents who have generously committed their time and effort in joining the MURDOCK Study and we hope the work and studies coming out of this important community-based health project are evidence of their investment. Our future in Kannapolis is bright as precision medicine takes shape locally and beyond."
The expansion gives Duke a bigger footprint on the campus with 5000 square feet of Class A medical and professional space on the third floor of the NCRC Medical Plaza. The office suite has a secure, separate workspace for clinical office work along with a conference room soon-to-be equipped for tele- and videoconferencing.
"To do that we need space actually to bring them in, to examine them, to do additional testing that are parts of new studies," Dr. Newby added.
This new office space for DTRI-Kannapolis is less than a half-mile from the original office, located at 147 West Avenue in downtown Kannapolis.
Data management and office operations teams remain at the facility in downtown Kannapolis, while clinical operations and community engagement teams have moved to the NCRC Medical Plaza.
The announcement on Friday included enrollment in the MURDOCK Study for anyone working on the NCRC campus.
As Dr. Williams signed up, he encouraged others to do so.
"The MURDOCK Study provides an opportunity for our community to become part of a study that will impact our generations for years to come," Dr. Williams said. "This includes understanding how important factors such as gender, age, sex or race can contribute to the manifestation of chronic illnesses or disease in so many people. As an African-American male, it is important to continue to understand why biomarkers for certain cancers such as colon-rectal or prostate cancer are higher among African-American males and the importance of finding viable solutions to improving both the detection and survival rate. I am grateful to the work of the researchers and staff of the MURDOCK study and look forward to the scientific breakthroughs as a result of this study."
"Don't be afraid. We need to understand better that a lot of the information derived from this study is going to be used to help not just African-Americans but the whole population," Dr. Williams added. "This will not only help me but it will help my kids as well as future generations."
According to a news release, the expansion will demonstrate Duke's "commitment to NCRC and increased collaboration with campus partners, as well as Duke's growing portfolio of research studies based in Kannapolis."
"The MURDOCK Study's potential continues to evolve as its reach and scope exceed what we could have imagined when we first designed the study," said Victoria Christian, Chief Operating Officer, Duke Translational Research Institute and operational founder of the MURDOCK Study. "New partnerships with the NCRC and our growing portfolio of projects with DHMRI are essential to our continued growth and realization of what is possible. New population health studies and collaborations in prostate cancer, drug use, pulmonary research, and Alzheimer's disease, are just a few highlights of what is in our wheelhouse."
And it all starts with the volunteers.
"The willingness of the people to volunteer is just something that we cannot express our gratitude for," Dr. Christian added.