New Technologies

Watch Rachel Roper describe her efforts to eradicate infections or read more about her work.

ECU Scientist Wields Grants to Battle Cancers, Infections

Rachel Roper is part of a new generation of North Carolina scientists helping us avoid a fast moving new generation of cancers and viral infections.

The East Carolina University researcher is using a $72,497 North Carolina Biotechology Center grant to equip her lab for a critical fight. That's where she's developing a unique system for keeping bad bugs and dangerous diseases at bay.

Continued Funding Creates a Cancer Connection

An additional grant connected Roper with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to test her system as a weapon against pancreatic cancer – one of the most fatal and least funded cancer types.

The disease kills more than 96 of every 100 people it attacks, within the first five years. And it continues to hit more than 40,000 people a year in the United States alone. Roper's research positions North Carolina as a critical partner in fighting this deadly cancer.

North Carolinians Exposed by Global Travels

Roper sees the world shrinking around North Carolinians. Military and civilian travelers pass through disease zones and spread illnesses quickly.

Remember the fast-moving 2003 outbreak of SARS, aka Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome? It killed nearly one in 10, or 774 of the 8,098 people worldwide who caught it. The United States got lucky that time. Only eight people were infected here – all from traveling to other parts of the world with SARS.

Scientists like Roper are our defensive frontline, in case we donít get so lucky next time.

With Patience Comes Payoff

Roper is collaborating with the Brody School of Medicine and university tech trasfer specialists to patent her technology. By tweaking genes in pox viruses, she's sneaking up on safer, more powerful vaccines.

Her efforts might even mean a vaccine against pancreatic cancer.

This kind of work takes time and money. Lots of both. But the payoff can be huge – not only in cash and prestige, but also in preventing human suffering. For North Carolinians. For the world.