Athletics, Academics and a LiDle Social Work
Who says college athletes don't have time for social lives outside the classroom and playing fields? Social work might be a better term.
In what has become a tradition, more than 70 Carolina
student athletes hiked five miles in September to raise money
for research to cure juvenile diabetes. Close to $7,000 was
raised in the event, which was coordinated on the UNC
also is needed for their growth. A new study by the UNC
School of Medicine highlights an important molecular mecha-
nism in the evolution of tumors and could lead to new anti-
cancer drugs targeted to a specific gene. The new gene may
be an appropriate target for drug therapy specifically aimed
at inhibiting tumor growth by shutting down the gene.
TUmor-suppressor: Researchers at the School of Medicine have
campus by John Lotz, assistant athletics director for commu- discovered a tumor-suppressor gene that plays a key role
nity relations. The walk was a project of the Atlantic Coast in repairing damaged DNA that can lead to breast and
Conference Outreach Program. ovarian cancer. This
Carolina athletes have participated in information is critical to
this event for several years, Lotz said. The knowing how cancer
amount of money raised, he said, "is quite starts and how it might
a bit when you think of college athletes be prevented or treated
going around in the dorm and collecting more effectively.
nickels and quarters." Most sports teams Researchers have
participated, with the track team raising begun to suspect that
the most money. this gene, along with
"I try to get a couple of people from each several others, when not
team to be the leaders," Lotz said. Regan working properly may
Leahy, a senior member of the track-and- be involved in cancer.
field squad, did the overall coordination of Gene1herapv: Using a new
the project, and Lotz recruited a couple of technique, University
people from each team to be the leaders More than 70 Carolina athletes participated in a walk for juvenile scientists have for the
for individual teams. Defensive end Ebenezer diabetes, including students from the track team. first time successfully
Ekuban was the team leader for the football team, which inserted large circular plasmids - doughnut-shaped pieces
raised more than $500 for the project. Some of the football of DNA containing healthy genes - into human cells and
team's contribution came from donations of individual players' showed the genes functioned as if they belonged there.
meal allowances for the Stanford game trip. After more than a year, the genes continued to operate
normally. The work is important, researchers say, because
it may offer a more effective method of transferring healthy
genes into humans who have illnesses such as hemophilia,
cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia. A report on the research
appeared in the September issue of the journal Human
Southern schooling: Although most Southerners are satisfied
with the education children get in the South, they believe
schools should increase the amount of work students do
and increase discipline, according to a study conducted by
UNC's Institute for Research in Social Science. The study
showed that the percentage of adults who believe that
children today are being better educated than they once
were has declined from 63 percent in 1948 to 50 percent
in 1998. Those polled also favored an increase in the
number of days high school and elementary school students
Breathing deeplv: A UNC study shows that children inhale
more airborne particles than do either adolescents or
adults. The study, sponsored by the Environmental Pro-
tection Agency, may help explain recent research suggesting
that children are more susceptible than adults to illnesses
caused by breathing polluted air. Researchers said other
contributing factors are that children are outside more
often and exercise more than adults.
FOR THE PEOPLE
What UNC is doing for North Carolina-and beyond
The next project for Carolina Outreach is one of Lotz's
favorites - making Thanksgiving baskets for 150 local families,
an idea he got from the late basketball great Pete Maravich.
Lotz visits his network of social workers in the schools to get
referrals, and students provide the laundry-style baskets and fill
them with food. The athletics department provides the turkeys.
The students give out the majority of the baskets to the
families at the door of Carmichael Auditorium a couple of days
before Thanksgiving and also deliver a few. "I know there are
different theories about delivery," Lotz said. "But [this method
enables] 18- and 20-year-olds to see the response and the
appreciation when the people come to pick up their baskets-
people who otherwise wouldn't have a Thanksgiving."
Other outreach projects by the athletes include a clothing
drive and cooking breakfast at the Ronald McDonald House.
Paradoxical gene: A gene discovered years ago has paradoxical
properties- it helps bring about tumor cell death, but it
NOlie III be r i D e( e11/ b er 1998