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STAT MADNESS: ECU professor thanks community for win in national competition

(WITN)
Published: Feb. 26, 2018 at 3:42 PM EST
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The official winner of the 2018 STAT Madness challenge won't be announced until this upcoming Monday, but as of 5 p.m. Friday, when voting closed, ECU's Dr. Jitka Virag was winning by more than 4,000 votes.

She's not claiming this win for herself, saying it's thanks to the entire community.

"You know, it's been such a journey," she tells WITN.

She's an associate professor in the Department of Physiology at the Brody School of Medicine.

Up until the last second, she was ferociously voting on every phone and computer she had. She ended up with 57-percent of the votes to George Washington University's 42-percent.

"Wherever I went, whether I was in a coffee shop or a restaurant, people were like, 'Hey, I'm voting for you,' and that kind of support for what people are doing in the community, I wish everybody had that kind of support for the things that are going on," Dr. Virag says.

When the first round began in February, she was in the lead for her research on a protein she believes could one day change the lives of heart attack victims by replacing the need for a stent placement or heart transplant surgery.

After besting 63 competitors, Dr. Virag now focuses on the future, talking about the opportunities still to come. Chief among them is the potential for collaboration with other institutions on her research.

"There are lots of different approaches that can be taken, and so people who have expertise in different realms, if they wanted to join in and help with some of this stuff, the possibilities are exciting and endless," she says.

Dr. Virag tells WITN that she hopes this win inspires people to continue focusing and working on projects like these.

She says one of the greatest things that could happen as a result of this is if one student became interested in this type of life-altering and even life-saving work.

In total, more than 45,000 votes were cast for ECU during this bracket challenge, which is about 15,000 more votes than the second place winner received in total.


Previous Story

An East Carolina University professor has come out on top in a national research competition.

Dr. Jitka Virag ended STAT Madness with 57% of the votes, compared to just 42% for George Washington University. Results become official on Monday.

The contest pitted medical schools from around the country against each other and asked voters which research was most interesting.

Dr. Virag's research focuses on heart disease. Her research could change the current medical protocol in treating heart attack patients and help to increase the survival rates and quality of life for survivors.

She is an associate professor in the Department of Physiology at the Brody School of Medicine.

Along the way ECU defeated researchers from Yale University, The University of Michigan, George Mason University, Georgia State University, and Stony Brook University.

There isn't a prize for winning, other than the notoriety and hopefully funding that can come with name recognition.


Previous Story

An East Carolina University researcher remains in the lead in the final hour of a nationwide contest.

ECU is facing off with George Washington University for the final round in the STAT Madness challenge.

Dr. Jitka Virag from East Carolina has led the entire time, but that lead narrowed on Friday. With an hour to go, ECU remains at 56% of the vote to George Washington's 43%.

The bracket pits medical schools from around the country against each other and asks voters which research is most interesting,

There isn't a prize for winning, other than the notoriety and hopefully funding that can come with name recognition.

Dr. Virag's research focuses on heart disease. Her research could change the current medical protocol in treating heart attack patients and help to increase the survival rates and quality of life for survivors.

Voting is open through 5:00 p.m. Friday.

*Please note: Viewers have reported issues voting from mobile devices. If you open the web link on a desktop computer, the bracket should pop up and you can scroll to the middle and 'select matchup' to vote for ECU.


PREVIOUS STORY

It's on to the finals for Dr. Jitka Virag! The ECU Associate Professor and researcher has made it to the final round in a nationwide competition between medical schools and their research called STAT Madness.

The bracket-style contest started with 64 schools.

The bracket pairs researchers against one another and asks voters to choose a project/school.

ECU beat Yale University 55-44% in the semi-finals.

ECU has also won over Stony Brook University, Georgia State University, George Mason University, and The University of Michigan.

The final round is ECU vs. George Washington University (Children's National Health System). As of 1:00 pm Thursday, the standings are 59% ECU to 40% for George Washington in the final round.

Dr. Jitka Virag's research could change the current medical protocol in treating heart attack patients and help to increase the survival rates and quality of life for survivors.

Voting is open through 5:00 p.m. Friday.

*Please note: Viewers have reported issues voting from mobile devices. If you open the web link on a desktop computer, the bracket should pop up and you can scroll to the middle and 'select matchup' to vote for ECU.


Previous Story:

A researcher at East Carolina University is in a nationwide competition and you can help her win.

Dr. Jitka Virag's research could change the current medical protocol in treating heart attack patients and help to increase the survival rates and quality of life for survivors.

Dr. Virag is one of 64 finalists in STAT Madness, a nationwide single-elimination, bracket-style competition that relies on social media exposure. Other researchers in the competition are from universities like Johns Hopkins, Yale, Stanford, and Duke.

The associate professor in the Department of Physiology at Brody is competing against Stony Brook University in New York in round one. Online voting continues until Thursday, and if successful, Dr. Virag will compete against another researcher in mid-March.

Winners don't really win anything, except for public recognition. Dr. Virag hopes this exposure will gain her more scientific connections that could lead to more collaboration in the research field.