MURDOCK Study Celebrates 10th Anniversary

KANNAPOLIS, N.C.—Ten years to the day after she became the first participant in the MURDOCK Study, Bobbie Beam returned to the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis on Saturday, Feb. 16 to celebrate the first decade of the landmark Duke CTSI study.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” said Beam, a retired nurse who joined hundreds of MURDOCK Study participants and community partners at the celebration. “I’m happy to be back.”

From humble beginnings in a former dress shop with one Duke employee, the MURDOCK Study paved the way for Duke’s presence in Kannapolis today — 5,000-square-feet of clinical office space and a team of more than 30 Duke employees co-located in Kannapolis and Durham. Duke CTSI manages the MURDOCK Study and a dozen nested MURDOCK sub-studies, as well as other clinical research projects based in Kannapolis and built on the foundation that has been created by the MURDOCK Study since 2009.

In 10 years, the MURDOCK Study Community Registry and Biorepository has grown to more than 12,500 participants and 450,000 biological samples. The community-based longitudinal cohort recruited participants from 20 zip codes in and around Kannapolis and Cabarrus County. The study has more than 50 collaborations, including 150 collaborators across 21 institutions, and 45 peer reviewed publications. More than 100 Duke faculty members have used MURDOCK Study samples and data to explore a broad range of research questions to better understand health and the transition to disease.

L. Kristin Newby, MD, MHS, director of Duke CTSI Translational Population Health Research (TransPop), serves as principal investigator for the MURDOCK Study. The MURDOCK Study and TransPop offer a range of assets and capabilities to investigators and collaborators.

As the MURDOCK Study begins its second decade, TransPop has launched two new cohorts — the MURDOCK Fractures and Falls Study, focused on understanding bone fracture risk in older adults with diabetes, and the MURDOCK Kidney Health Study, which aims to understand factors that prevent kidney disease in people at risk.

Newby urged MURDOCK Study participants to complete their annual follow-up form every year, when the study team contacts them around the anniversary of their enrollment.

“As we enter our second decade, the MURDOCK Study depends on you — our participants — to follow-up every year,” she said. “Enrollment was just the beginning of your commitment to the MURDOCK Study, and to each other.”

Whether a participant’s health has changed or stayed the same, each follow-up form gives researchers valuable information about health in the community and fuels research to help fight disease, she said. Participants can check to see if they are due for follow-up by calling 704-250-5861 or emailing transpop@duke@edu.

The 10th anniversary celebration in Kannapolis also featured the second MURDOCK Study participant, Ed Tyson, who joked that he would have been the first to enroll if Beam had not beaten him to it. Tyson said he joined the study because he wanted it to become a success for his hometown, which had suffered the loss of a large textile mill several years before the North Carolina Research Campus opened and the MURDOCK Study began.

“I have a great love for the community,” said Tyson, a retired Kannapolis City Schools superintendent and former UNC-Charlotte professor. “If someone back then had said to us, ‘The mill is going to close, what is your dream for the future of Kannapolis?’ none of us could have had a dream this big.”

MURDOCK is an acronym that stands for the Measurement to Understand Reclassification of Disease Of Cabarrus and Kannapolis. Duke University School of Medicine received a $35 million gift from David H. Murdock, chairman of Dole Food Company, to establish the MURDOCK Study in September 2007.

Tenth anniversary observances will continue throughout the year, with additional events planned in Kannapolis and Durham.

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