The life of Alice Glines can be characterized by unfailing and determined optimism that has allowed her to remake her life not once, but four times.
She’s gone from married life and raising two sons outside of Cleveland, Ohio, to moving to Charlotte in 1985. In Charlotte, her energy and love of working with people helped her to become a successful restaurant and bar owner, a career that lasted over 20 years. She then worked in the inventory and accounts payable department of a Concord-based, motorsports parts supply company until the company went under during the recession. Today, at the age of 60, she is a clinical assistant one with the Duke University MURDOCK Study.
The MURDOCK Study– Measurement to Understand the Reclassification of Disease of Cabarrus/Kannapolis– is based at the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) in Kannapolis. It is a multi-tiered, longitudinal study that is using advanced technologies to find genomic linkages and biomarkers that will improve the way debilitating diseases like cancer are predicted and treated.
Passion Plus a Degree
Glines beat breast cancer 17 years ago. Her mother also survived breast cancer. One of her sons, now in his 40s, is living with an environmental cancer prevalent in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. After two years of chemotherapy, he is in remission. Glines’ experience with cancer roused a passion for clinical research that she combined with a two-year, applied science degree in biotechnology from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. The Rowan-Cabarrus biotechnology and nursing training facility is located on the NCRC.
“My husband, who is a chemical engineer, sort of led me into the biotechnology field,” Glines said, “and I come from a family of nurses so that sort of led me into the medical field. I wanted the two to go hand in hand [which] caused me to develop an interest in clinical research. I love research, and I love people.”
Seeing the “writing on the wall,” Glines, then in her 50s, started at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College before being laid off in 2008 from the parts supply company. She first had to tackle prerequisites in math, science and computers.
“I had a lot of catching up to do,” she laughed.
Once she got into the core classes of the biotechnology degree program, she was surprised at her aptitude for the subjects. “I loved the sciences,” she recalled. “I loved biology and microbiology. The sciences came easier for me than math. I hadn’t had science before so I didn’t know how much I’d enjoy it. It came pretty easy.”
She credits the Rowan-Cabarrus tutoring department for their support as well as her husband’s unfailing encouragement. His only frustration was that she commuted to Rowan-Cabarrus instead of attending a college closer to home.
“I saw how much they [Rowan-Cabarrus] helped seniors transition into school,” Glines said. “They had IBM and Philip Morris, and the racing industry all go down during the recession. They held our hand. Other colleges were not equipped. They didn’t know how to pull us in and make us comfortable enough to fit in.”
Before graduating from Rowan-Cabarrus, she attended a neighboring community college to take phlebotomy classes, a necessary skill in clinical research. She graduated from Rowan-Cabarrus in June 2011 and immediately started job hunting. By September, she hadn’t found any openings so she called the Duke Medicine office for the MURDOCK Study to ask about volunteering. Instead, they hired her as part of the clinical and outreach team, first as a contractor and then as a full-time employee.
On the Job
Glines is part of a small team at the MURDOCK Study working tirelessly at the frontlines of clinical research to engage people throughout Kannapolis, Cabarrus and parts of Mecklenburg, Rowan and Stanly counties to join the study.
“If we don’t reach out to the community, we don’t have a study,” she emphasized, “We reach out to area hospitals and schools, festivals and health fairs. Churches have been wonderful. I will go talk to anyone who will let me in their door.”
Once people decide to enroll in the study, they fill out a health questionnaire and provide blood and urine samples at a contracted MURDOCK site in Kannapolis, Concord, Charlotte, Harrisburg, Davidson and Huntersville. The whole process takes about 40 minutes or less. Glines has been an instrumental part of the successful enrollment of more than 9,500 people in the community registry and the collection of over 350,000 biological samples.
The samples are securely stored in the LabCorp Biorepository in Kannapolis. In combination with medical histories, demographics and other lifestyle habits and other information, Duke researchers and their partners are able to evaluate the samples to better understand diseases that commonly affect the public’s health such as liver disease, osteoarthritis, coronary heart disease and multiple sclerosis.
At this point, Glines does not see herself taking on another career. She is still amazed at the job she has and how much she enjoys it. “I never dreamt that I’d be here where I am today. I did not think this is the turn my life would take,” she commented, “but I’m happy that it did.”
For more information about the MURDOCK Study, visit www.murdock-study.org.or call 704-250-5861.