In an arrangement that Duke University hopes other Cabarrus County employers will emulate, staff have visited local schools to register employees who want to volunteer for the study.

Principals allowed employees at both schools to remain on the clock during their appointments, which take about an hour.

"It’s that important," said Dr. Jo Anne Byerly, superintendent for Kannapolis City Schools, who also enrolled. "This is a study that will change the future of medicine and health care."

The study needs 50,000 volunteers for its community registry and has about 800 so far, with a lengthy waiting list. David Murdock, billionaire owner of Dole Food Co. and founder of the in Kannapolis, launched the study in 2007 when he gave Duke $35 million.

The study, which stands for Measurement to Understand Reclassification of Disease of Cabarrus/Kannapolis, aims to find new ways to diagnose and treat chronic disease by studying human health at the molecular level. Duke is one of eight universities on the Research Campus.

For more details, see the report.