Paula Brown Stafford

December 1, 2016


U.S. President James K. Polk. Thirteen Pulitzer Prize winners, numerous lawyers, statesmen, artists. Journalists David Brinkley, Charles Kuralt and Stuart Scott. Actors Andy Griffith and Billy Crudup. Michael Jordan.

Paula Brown Stafford, MPH, is in good company among the best of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s successful alumni. UNC made it official on Oct. 11, the day before the university’s 223rd birthday, by presenting Stafford with its University Distinguished Alumna award.

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by UNC in this way,” Brown Stafford says. “I am a Tar Heel born, a Tar Heel bred, and a Tar Heel for life!”

Paula Brown Stafford

Paula Brown Stafford (Contributed photo)

Stafford, who earned Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Master of Public Health degrees in biostatistics from UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, is former president of clinical development at Quintiles, a Fortune 500 company that is the world’s largest provider of biopharmaceutical development and commercial outsourcing services. She lends support to the Gillings School in several capacities, including serving as an adjunct professor, member and past president of the School’s Public Health Foundation board, and loyal donor and friend.

When Stafford joined Quintiles in 1985, she was only the 23rd employee of the fledgling company, which now has more than 36,000 employees conducting business in 100 countries. During her 30-year career there, she was involved directly in the development and regulatory approval of hundreds of life-changing drug therapies for patients in North Carolina and throughout the world.

Personally, one of the most important was her first beginning-to-end clinical trial, in which she oversaw the development of a diabetes drug that allowed her grandmother to live well into her 90s by managing the chronic disease. More than 30 million adults in the U.S. are affected with diabetes.

As a recognized leader in biopharmaceutical development, she was invited in 2014 to provide expert testimony to a Congressional committee about modernizing clinical trials. She spoke of three key areas of drug development – patients, pathways and processes – and the need to accelerate the delivery of therapies to patients.

“Modernizing clinical trials is critical,” she said in the testimony, “if we are to meet the goals we share of delivering medicines faster and at less cost to patients who need them.”

Since her retirement from Quintiles in 2015, Stafford provides leadership consulting services to various organizations, serves on the board of Health Decisions, a Durham, N.C.-based contract research organization, and enjoys the company of husband Greg and their two grown children.

“My degrees from the Gillings School provided me with the education and experience to be a partner in bringing new medicines to markets around the world, improving and saving lives,” she says. “I have been blessed with wonderful professors, colleagues and family who have supported me along the way.”

Alumni, share your success stories! Email us at sphalumniandfriends@unc.edu.


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Carolina Public Health is a publication of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. To view previous issues, please visit sph.unc.edu/cph.

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