School news

School news
May 01, 2013
October 2012 – April 2013

Read more at www.sph.unc.edu/news.

Selected publications


Dr. J. Anderson
Dr. J. Anderson

Dr. Ralph Baric
Dr. Ralph Baric

Dr. Peggy Bentley
Dr. Peggy Bentley

Dr. Jianwen Cai
Dr. Jianwen Cai

Dr. Susan Ennett
Dr. Susan Ennett

John J.B. Anderson, PhD, nutrition professor emeritus, led a study assessing benefits of calcium on bone mineral density and determined that older adults would be better served by taking in calcium from foods. The study was published online Oct. 15, 2012, in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Ralph Baric, PhD, epidemiology professor, and Mark Denison, MD, professor of microbiology and immunology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, collaborated on a study that may show how to cripple the ability of the SARS coronavirus to cause disease by using the virus’ rapid mutation abilities against itself. Epidemiology postdoctoral fellow Rachel Graham, PhD, led the study, published Nov. 12, 2012, in Nature Medicine.
Margaret Bentley, PhD, Carla Smith Chamblee Distinguished Professor of nutrition and associate dean for global health, has studied the interplay of maternal and infant risk factors that lead to TV watching in infants. The research, which appears in the Jan. 7 issue of Pediatrics, found that mothers who were obese, who watched a lot of TV and whose children were fussy were most likely to put their infants in front of the TV.
Jianwen Cai, PhD, biostatistics professor, found that heart disease risk factors are widespread among Hispanic/Latino adults in the U.S. The largest ever of its kind, Cai’s study was published in the Nov. 7, 2012, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. It found that 80 percent of Hispanic/Latino men and 71 percent of women had at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor.
A study by Rose Cory, PhD, suggests that arctic warming is an even bigger global problem than previously thought. Cory measured the effect of sunlight on the carbon long locked away in the frozen soils. Conversion of the organic carbon to carbon dioxide gas has potential to double the amount of greenhouse gas in the earth’s atmosphere. Cory’s results were reported online Feb. 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A study led by Susan Ennett, PhD, professor of health behavior, found that 22 percent of surveyed mothers believed that children who taste alcohol at home are better at resisting alcohol-related peer pressure. The findings, published in JAMA Pediatrics in November 2012, are troubling, given that early exposure to alcohol is a primary risk factor for problem drinking during adolescence.
Dr. Myles Faith
Dr. Myles Faith

Dr. Amy Herring
Dr. Amy Herring

Dr. Carolyn Halpern
Dr. Carolyn Halpern

Dr. M. Herman-Giddens
Dr. M. Herman-Giddens

Zachary Kerr
Zachary Kerr

Myles Faith, PhD, associate professor of nutrition, co-authored an October 2012 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research revealing a strong association between masculinity and eating meat. The findings suggest that what men choose to consume may be shaped by metaphors and beliefs about what certain foods might say about them. Faith also published a study March 20 in Obesity finding genetic causes for children’s picky eating.

Alumna Abigail Haydon, PhD, and faculty members Amy Herring, ScD, and Carolyn Halpern, PhD, co-authored a study examining a range of sexual behaviors in adolescence and how those behaviors relate to reproductive health and sexual risk-taking later. The study was published online Oct. 3, 2012, in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.
Marcia Herman-Giddens, DrPH, adjunct professor of maternal and child health, found that boys in the U.S. appear to be entering puberty much earlier than in the past, a trend that may have important medical, psychosocial, public health and environmental implications. Her study was published online Oct. 20 in Pediatrics.
Zachary Kerr, epidemiology doctoral student, analyzed causes of exertional heat illness and death among high school athletes in a study published in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Stephen Marshall, PhD, epidemiology professor, was co-author.
Joseph Lee
Joseph Lee

Amy Lowman
Amy Lowman

Dr. Steve Wing
Dr. Steve Wing

Dr. Sandra Martin
Dr. Sandra Martin

Dr. Beth Mayer-Davis
Dr. Beth Mayer-Davis

Health behavior doctoral student Joseph G.L. Lee, MPH, co-authored a September 2012 American Journal of Public Health article showing that an Institute of Medicine report on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) health underestimates evidence of tobacco use by the LGBT population, compared to heterosexuals. Such underreporting is problematic because IOM’s findings are used by federal agencies and funding entities to set public health policy and priorities.

Amy Lowman, MPH, research associate, and Steve Wing, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology, found that solids from sewage treatment (sludge) used as fertilizer on farm lands cause health problems among people who live near the affected areas. Their study appeared in the March 11 Environmental Health Perspectives.
Sandra Martin, PhD, professor of maternal and child health and associate dean for research, and Angela Parcesepe, maternal and child health doctoral candidate, are authors of a chapter in the new book Violence Against Women and Mental Health, edited by A. Riecher-Rossler and N. Sartorius and published Feb. 7.
Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, nutrition professor, contributed research to a study finding that the number of American youths with Type 2 diabetes could increase by almost 50 percent by mid-century. The study, led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, was published in the December 2012 issue of Diabetes Care.

Dr. Andy Olshan
Dr. Andy Olshan

Dr. Barry Popkin
Dr. Barry Popkin

Dr. Ivan Rusyn
Dr. Ivan Rusyn

Dr. Carmen Samuel-Hodge
Dr. Carmen Samuel-Hodge

Dr. Anthony Viera
Dr. Anthony Viera

Andy Olshan, PhD, professor and chair of epidemiology, and Kimon Divaris, PhD, epidemiology alumnus and research assistant professor of dentistry at UNC, conducted research showing that genes responsible for nervous system development and immune function also play a role in chronic periodontitis, a gum disease. Findings were published March 4 in Human Molecular Genetics. Olshan also co-authored a study in the March 7 Genetics in Medicine asserting that progress in DNA sequencing offers opportunity to identify preventable rare diseases through screening.
Drs. Barry Popkin, Meghan Slining and Shu Wen Ng, nutrition faculty members, led an independent evaluation of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation’s pledge to reduce one trillion calories from the marketplace by 2012 and 1.5 trillion by 2015. Findings were published Jan. 17 in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Popkin, W.R. Kenan Distinguished Professor of nutrition, also worked with Carmen Piernas, nutrition doctoral student, and colleagues to find that while sugary, higher-calorie beverages are still enjoyed too much by American consumers, low-calorie drinks are closing the gap in households with and without children. Published March 25 in Pediatric Obesity, the study spanned 10 years and found a trend toward increased intake of lower-calorie beverages and decreased intake of higher-calorie sweet drinks.
Ivan Rusyn, MD, PhD, environmental sciences and engineering professor, was one of 18 international scientists who helped reclassify trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical formerly used as a degreaser and in dry cleaning, from a cancer "hazard" to "carcinogenic to humans." The scientists’ assessments were published as volume 106 of the IARC Monographs. A summary of the evaluations was published Oct. 26, 2012, in Lancet Oncology.
Carmen Samuel-Hodge, PhD, research assistant professor of nutrition, examined interactions between African-American adults living with diabetes and their non-diabetic family members. The article, published in the March issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found unresolved family conflict, role confusion and concerns about not knowing what to say to family members living with diabetes. Samuel-Hodge and colleagues also implemented a proven weight-loss program in the "real world," through select N.C. health departments. Findings, published Feb. 14 in the journal Obesity, demonstrated that local staff members trained in an evidence-based program can facilitate clinically meaningful weight loss by program participants.
Anthony Viera, MD, has determined that people take nutrition information most seriously when it is presented in terms of how long it would take to burn the calories in any given food through exercising. His study was published March 1 in the journal Appetite.
Daisy Zamora, PhD, postdoctoral researcher in the UNC medical school and 2010 alumna of the Gillings School, analyzed data missing from a prior study and cast doubt on current dietary advice about vegetable fats and heart health. The clinical trial, published online Feb. 5 in the British Journal of Medicine, shows that replacing saturated animal fats with a common omega-6 polyunsaturated vegetable fat is linked to an increased risk of death among patients with heart disease.
The Active Living by Design grant program, led by Sarah Strunk, MHA, and funded from 2003 to 2009 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is featured in the November 2012 supplement of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.


Selected Grants

Dr. Rebecca Fry
Dr. Rebecca Fry

Dr. Vijaya Hogan
Dr. Vijaya Hogan

Dr. Cheryll Lesneski
Dr. Cheryll Lesneski

Dr. Philip May
Dr. Philip May

Dr. Jackie MacDonald Gibson
Dr. Jackie MacDonald Gibson

Amy Herring, ScD, Rebecca Fry, PhD, and Marilie Gammon, PhD, leaders in the School’s Biostatistics for Research in Environmental Health grant, were delighted to learn that the research and training program was renewed for another five-year period by The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The grant has been awarded continuously to the Gillings School since 1971, when it was won by Bernard Greenberg, PhD, then-chair of the biostatistics department, making it the longest continuing training program at the School. The grant supports 23 doctoral and five postdoctoral scholars in biostatistics, epidemiology, and environmental sciences and engineering.

Vijaya K. Hogan, DrPH, clinical associate professor of maternal and child health, leads First Foods, W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s national breastfeeding initiative. Hogan received a $900,000 grant to give children a healthy start by ensuring more babies receive breast milk as their first food experience.
Cheryll Lesneski, DrPH, and Rohit Ramaswamy, PhD, faculty members in the Public Health Leadership Program, were awarded a $99,917 grant from Pfizer to design and execute smoking cessation programs at three inpatient Alcohol and Drug Treatment Centers in North Carolina. The project is timely, given that the state is establishing regulations for mental health facilities to become smoke-free campuses in 2013.
Philip May, PhD, research professor of nutrition and Nutrition Research Institute scientist, received a $5.3 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one of the National Institutes of Health, to conduct research on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in South Africa.
Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson, PhD, assistant professor of environmental sciences and engineering, has received one of this year’s four Health Systems and Services Research Mentored Research Scientist Development Awards, presented by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to emerging researchers who examine the effects of public health services on population health. MacDonald Gibson will focus upon the historically African-American Rogers Road/Eubanks neighborhood in Chapel Hill, N.C.


Other News

Jo Anne Earp, ScD (right), former chair and professor of the health behavior department, was honored with a day-long symposium and retirement dinner on April 12. Earp, who joined the Gillings School faculty in 1974, has been friend, mentor and educator for multiple generations of public health leaders. Earp is pictured here with current HB chair, Dr. Leslie Lytle. Read more about "Earpfest" at www.sph.unc.edu/news.

In memoriam: Brian Montgomery Sumner, MD, Master of Public Health student in the Public Health Leadership Program (PHLP), died in an accident in Costa Rica on Jan. 4. He was 51.

The 2012 Water and Health Conference: Science, Policy and Innovation explored critical global issues in water and health during the third annual event, held Oct. 29-Nov. 2, 2012. About 500 people attended the international gathering, co-sponsored by The Water Institute at UNC and the UNC Institute for the Environment. Jamie Bartram, PhD, directs The Water Institute. During the conference, The Water Institute received a $75,000 grant from Wells Fargo & Company.


Dr. Anna Schenck
Dr. Anna Schenck

Dr. Mike Cohen
Dr. Mike Cohen

Josh Nesbit
Josh Nesbit

Dr. Jon LaPook
Dr. Jon LaPook

William C. Friday
William C. Friday

Anna Schenck, PhD, associate dean for public health practice at the School, chaired this year’s American’s Health Rankings® Scientific Advisory Committee. Gillings School faculty members have been instrumental advisers in the development and review of the rankings since the process was established in 1990. The rankings analyze and report on the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis.
Myron S. Cohen, MD, acclaimed physician and HIV/AIDS researcher, was the keynote speaker at UNC’s December commencement. He offered graduates his recipe for success: timing, taking chances, trust and tenacity.
Josh Nesbit, executive director and co-founder of Medic Mobile, a nongovernmental organization that employs mobile technologies to improve health care in challenging settings, presented the keynote address at the Gillings School’s spring 2013 commencement, held Saturday, May 11, at 1 p.m. in the Carmichael Arena on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.
The University of Cambridge (U.K.) and the Gillings School of Global Public Health are pioneering collaborative research in dementia, obesity, tobacco and alcohol, and disease progression and treatment. Among UNC public health faculty involved in the collaboration are Drs. Peggye Dilworth Anderson, Michael Kosorok, Barbara K. Rimer, Kurt Ribisl and June Stevens. For more information about the partnership, contact Barbara Wallace at bobbi_wallace@unc.edu.
Jonathan LaPook, MD, was the keynote speaker at the 45th annual Fred T. Foard Jr. Memorial Lecture on April 11. LaPook, chief medical correspondent for CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, spoke on "Public Health at the Intersection of Medicine and Media."
In Memoriam: William Clyde Friday, JD (1920 – 2012)
Mr. Friday, who served as president of the University of North Carolina from 1956 to 1986, died on UNC’s University Day, Oct. 12. He was 92. So many will miss his loyalty to the state and University he loved, as well as his wit, compassion and unwavering sense of justice. Read about his special relationship with the Gillings School of Global Public Health at www.sph.unc.edu/billfriday.


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 www.sph.unc.edu/cph.

Last updated May 20, 2013