Duke University is looking for 50,000 volunteers in Cabarrus County to participate a large-scale study that will examine individual differences in how human disease affects the population.
Dole Food Co. owner David Murdock gave Duke a $35 million gift to launch the study, called the MURDOCK study, and pledged to work to find other grant funding to keep it going.
The research will be centered at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis.
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 today, Duke will set up appointments for potential participants at the Cabarrus Health Alliance.
On Tuesday, study coordinators will be at the Community Free Clinic and expand to other sites, such as CMC-NorthEast and the health clinic on McGill Avenue, said Lavenia Dash, clinical research coordinator with the Duke Translational Medicine Institute.
Participants must be at least 18 years old and residents of Kannapolis or Cabarrus County for at least six months.
Brochures are available in physicians' offices with contact forms that participants can fill out and mail back, Dash said.
Duke will contact potential participants, do a phone screening, then schedule an appointment. After filling out consent and medical history forms, participants will give a blood sample, Dash said.
Researchers will contact the participants four times a year and do an annual check-up.
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 Cabarrus County population. “We want healthy people, sick people, young and old,” she said, but added that 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.
Duke and partner LabCorp are building a biorepository on Cannon Boulevard to store samples from participants. For now, Duke researchers are shipping biosamples – which can include blood, hair, skin, urine and other bodily fluids – to a facility in New Jersey.
Dunham said once the facility in Kannapolis is complete, scientists will be able to store their samples there for easy access.