NCNC Newsletter Winter/Spring 2023

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Kiah Gaskin joins the Primary Care Research Consortium at Duke

Kiah joined the Duke Primary Care Research Consortium as program leader in November 2022. She comes to PCRC with 10 years of experience managing programs and research projects with a focus on community-engagement, health equity, and implementation science.

Kiah Gaskin

Kiah Gaskin

When she started at Duke she managed Bull City Fit, a childhood obesity treatment program that partnered specialty and primary care clinics with Parks & Recreation, and then went on to lead studies that measured the feasibility of replicating this model in other areas of North Carolina. In these roles she learned the importance of identifying outcomes that matter to vastly different stakeholders, and being able to effectively communicate across institutional barriers.

This led to her previous role with the Duke CTSI Community Engaged Research Initiative, where she managed programs that build capacity for community-academic partnered research. A common thread in her career, and where she finds the most joy, is being challenged by unlikely partnerships and seeing the fruit of relationships built over time. In addition to managing the PCRC, Kiah is based within Duke’s Office of Clinical Research where she helps oversee the research service center and coordinates initiatives that increase equity and diversity in clinical research.

Kiah received her MPH and MSW from UNC Chapel Hill in 2014, but she’s a Cameron Crazie at heart (Duke class of 2011)! When she’s not working she enjoys adventuring with her husband and 3 children Laurel (6), Isaac (4), and Caroline (1).

Carolina Consortium to improve Blood Pressure

Skip Cummings (Left) and Sandy Robinson (Right)

Skip Cummings (Left) and Sandy Robertson (Right)

Jacqueline Halladay, MD, MPH, from UNC Family Medicine, with Doyle “Skip” Cummings, PharmD from the ECU Brody School of Medicine, and Sandy Robertson, PharmD from Atrium Health/Cabarrus Family Medicine are leading a five-year, $5.6 million PCORI grant to understand if a technology-enabled team-based approach results in greater blood pressure control compared to usual care in populations of people with uncontrolled high blood pressure. “The intent is to study how well this new strategy for improving blood pressure control works in high-risk populations compared to usual care,” Cummings said.

The motivation for the project, Cummings said, came from prior research collaborations on hypertension, including a collaboration through a PCORI contract that Wake Forest was awarded to study hypertension control in elderly patients who had experienced a stroke.

“We were intrigued by this idea that we might be able to leverage this home telemonitoring capability,” he said, “but instead of trying it with people who have already had a stroke or a bad outcome, we want to see if we can do it in primary care before they have those adverse events.”

Jacquie Halladay

Jacquie Halladay

“I have wanted to do a study like this for a long time based upon experiences in research, clinical medicine, and public health,” Halladay said. “What inspires me most is the excitement of the people who work in the participating practice sites and other stakeholders who are willing to help us design and implement the project in their settings. They seem excited to find out if a technology-enabled and team-based care approach can enhance outcomes for patients and healthcare team members alike.

The UNC Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research will be the study’s data coordinating center, responsible for building the tailored participant tracking and data collection systems. The center’s Integrated Research Solutions and Data Analytics teams have been collaborating with researchers in these efforts for over 14 years.

“This innovative project offers us the opportunity to integrate our system with those of commercial blood pressure devices to offer providers real-time patient data in a powerful way,” Brian Cass said. “The customized dashboard will

show trends over time and provide an alert system for patients who need more immediate attention to help providers in North Carolina make the best decisions for and with their patients based on the best information.”

The Individualizing Treatment for Asthma in Primary Care (iTREAT-PC) study

Michelle Hernandez (Left) and Katrina Donahue (Right)

Michelle Hernandez (Left) and Katrina Donahue (Right)

The Individualizing Treatment for Asthma in Primary Care (iTREAT-PC) study, funded through the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), will test two treatments – inhaled steroids or specific antibiotics, alone or together –  both alone and together in more than 3,000 people with asthma age 12 and over. Individuals will be followed for 16 months to determine which therapy is most effective in which individuals.

We care for many children and adults whose asthma is difficult to control,” said Michelle Hernandez, MD, professor of pediatrics and UNC Site PI. “We are excited to participate in this study so that we can test new, evidence-based and pragmatic asthma treatments that can r

Hazel Tapp

Hazel Tapp

educe the burden of asthma for individuals from diverse backgrounds.”

The UNC School of Medicine and Atrium Health Wake Baptist are two of the 10 clinical partners across the United States participating in the study. Dr. Hernandez and Katrina Donahue, MD, MPH professor of Family Medicine from UNC School of Medicine and Hazel Tapp PhD the Family Medicine Research Department Director and Tom Ludden PhD, from Atrium Health Wake Baptist will lead implementation activities in primary care clinics (Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics).

The NC Registry for Brain Health

In North Carolina, the number of people affected by memory disorders like Alzheimer’s disease is going up. The NC Registry for Brain Health is working to change that by keeping people informed and connecting them to research.

LogoWhen North Carolina residents join the Registry, they receive information on maintaining brain health, current news, and community resources for dementias like Alzheimer’s disease and other memory disorders. They also learn about current research studies that may improve treatment options in the future.

Together we can improve brain health and defeat dementia. Be informed. Get involved.

Go to to learn more


NCNC would like to thank UNC’s Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and the NC Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute for all they do that make our work possible.