By Marci Gore / Kingsport Times News
A foundation led by the Rev. Caryl Griffin Russell, a Holston clergy member, was recently called on to help battle a deadly disease in West Africa.
KINGSPORT, Tenn. -- The work done by the Elizabeth R. Griffin Research Foundation has recently become more well-known across the globe. But, according to Jim Welch, the executive director of the foundation headquartered right here in Kingsport, many local folks don't even know the foundation exists, much less what it does.
However, because of the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa — as well as a handful of cases of the virus in the United States — it turns out the work of the Elizabeth R. Griffin Research Foundation (ERGRF) is something we all may be hearing more about in the coming months, or even coming years.
"Yes, here we are, in little ole Kingsport. We've always just kind of flown under the radar. But what we are doing is of global significance. We're going to become very public in what we do," Welch said. "I want the community to be proud of what we do."
The ERGRF was started in 1999 following the death of Kingsport native and Dobyns-Bennett graduate, Beth Griffin. Beth was working as a research assistant at Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta in the fall of 1997 where she was engaged in behavioral research on hormonal influences in the Rhesus Macaque — or the Rhesus Monkeys. While performing annual physicals on 100 monkeys in a research compound, Beth was splashed in the eye. Beth immediately feared she would become infected with the Monkey B Virus.