By Ben McNeely
The MURDOCK Study, Duke University’s longitudinal study that promises to “rewrite the textbook of medicine,” will begin enrolling participants on Monday. The study is looking for 50,000 participants from Cabarrus County.
The study proposes to look at individual differences in how human disease affects the population. Researchers are focusing on cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, cancer, obesity and hepatitis and want to use the entire population of Kannapolis and Cabarrus County as their study group.
Beginning Monday, Duke will set up appointments for potential participants at the Cabarrus Health Alliance.
On Tuesday, they will be at the Community Free Clinic and expand to other sites, like CMC-NorthEast and the health clinic on McGill Avenue, said Lavenia Dash, clinical research coordinator with the Duke Translational Medicine Institute.
Participants must be 18 years old and residents of Kannapolis or Cabarrus County for at least six months.
Brochures are available in physician’s offices with contact forms that participants can fill out and mail back, Dash said.
From there, Duke will contact and do a phone screening, then schedule an appointment for a participant to come in and get enrolled. After filling out consent and medical history forms, participants will give a blood sample which researchers will keep and use for the various research studies, Dash said.
Researchers will contact participants four times a year and do an annual check-up.
“We’re very excited to get to this point, where we are enrolling participants,” Dash said.
Duke will be enrolling for four years, Dash said, and may open the study to other counties in the area.
Project leader Ashley Dunham said researchers want a “good representation of the population in Cabarrus County.”
“We want healthy people, #### people, young and old,” she said, adding they are not enrolling children. There is a nationwide children’s study that is tackling some of the same questions the MURDOCK Study is going after and Duke doesn’t want to duplicate efforts, Dunham said.
As for potential participants from around the area, Dunham said there are people interested from Rowan, Stanly and Mecklenburg counties, but right now they are only focusing on Cabarrus County.
“But I can’t imagine we won’t expand our catchment area at some point,” Dunham said. “We’ve given ourselves four years and funding for 50,000 people.”
Dole Food Company owner David Murdock gave Duke a $35 million gift to start the study and pledged his support to find other grant funding to keep the study going. The study is centered at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis and will use the advanced scientific equipment in the Core Research Laboratory to help identify genetic differences of the diseases.
Duke and partner LabCorp are building a biorepository on Cannon Boulevard to store biosamples from participants. For right now, Duke researchers are shipping biosamples — which can include blood, hair, skin, urine and other bodily fluids — to a biorepository facility in New Jersey. Dunham said once the facility in Kannapolis is complete, scientist will be able to store their samples there for easy access.
For more information, contact the MURDOCK Study office in Kannapolis at 877-673-2508.
• Contact reporter Ben McNeely: 704-789-9131.