School news (Fall, 2011)
December 27, 2011
Marci Campbell, PhD, professor of nutrition, died Dec. 14 after facing cancer with grace and caring for almost two years. She was program leader for cancer prevention and control at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and member of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.
Throughout her career, Dr. Campbell was committed to reducing risks for cancer, especially among low-income and minority populations. She was known for her work in developing innovative, research-tested interventions for an impressive number of health risks and conditions. She worked with many organizations, including churches, community groups and voluntary health organizations, and had collaborators around the world. In 1984, she was awarded the Order of the Longleaf Pine, one of the state’s highest civilian honors, for her work to improve the health of North Carolinians. Read more at www.sph.unc.edu/news. Tributes may be offered online.
Inaugural training institute connects research and practice
UNC’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP), led by nutrition professor Alice Ammerman, DrPH, hosted 34 researchers from across the U.S. for the first Training Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health. The Institute, a five-day workshop that aims to introduce resources, enhance skills and provide strategies for those involved in dissemination and implementation research, is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. HPDP was selected to host the inaugural event because of its experience with dissemination and implementation research.
Among the public health school’s speakers were Dean Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH; nutrition faculty members Marci Campbell, PhD, and Carmen Samuel Hodge, PhD; health policy and management faculty members Kristen Hassmiller Lich, PhD, Joseph P. Morrissey, PhD, and Bryan Weiner, PhD; and Timothy Carey, MD, director of the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and adjunct epidemiology faculty member.
Ammerman also contributed to an Institute of Medicine policy report on childhood obesity.
UNC, NC community colleges partner to prevent cancer
As part of the University Cancer Research Fund’s (UCRF) Health-e-NC program, public health researchers and others from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center are partnering with the state’s community colleges to assess needs and preferences for adopting and implementing evidence-based interventions for cancer prevention.
“We received overwhelming participation in our initial health survey — 100 percent of the state’s community colleges responded,” said Laura Linnan, ScD, CHES, the project’s principal investigator and professor of health behavior and health education. “This level of participation in a survey is fairly remarkable. We were extremely grateful for the excellent response.”
The UCRF was established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2008 to accelerate the battle against cancer in North Carolina.
Sobsey co-authors WHO report on household water treatment
Mark Sobsey, PhD, Kenan Distinguished Professor of environmental sciences and engineering, is co-author of a newly published World Health Organization (WHO) report, “Evaluating Household Water Treatment Options: Health-based Targets and Microbiological Performance Specifications.”
The document is the first to offer global criteria for evaluating whether a household water treatment option reduces waterborne pathogens sufficiently to protect health. The resource is especially intended for settings in which water quality laboratories may have limited capacity and incremental improvements of household water treatment could have a substantial impact on public health.
See the report at http://tinyurl.com/WHO-Sobsey-water-treatment.
Mothers with breastfeeding difficulties more likely to suffer postpartum depression
Women who have breastfeeding difficulties in the first two weeks after giving birth are more likely to suffer postpartum depression two months later compared to women without such difficulties. For that reason, women with breastfeeding difficulties should be screened for depressive symptoms, according to a new study led by Stephanie Watkins, MSPH, MSPT, epidemiology doctoral student at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Watkins also found that women with severe postpartum breast pain were twice as likely to be depressed as women who did not experience pain.
Millikan awarded $19M to study breast cancer
Robert Millikan, PhD, DVM, Barbara Sorenson Hulka Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology, has partnered with scientists from Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Boston University to conduct an ambitious study of breast cancer among younger African-American women.
Data from UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Carolina Breast Cancer Study show that African-American women younger than 45 are more likely to be diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer than are women of European ancestry. The current five-year project was awarded $19.3 million from the National Cancer Institute to understand this significant health disparity. The basal subtype, more common in younger, African-American women, may explain why these women are more likely than white women to die from breast cancer.
U.S. adults not just eating more, but more often …
Over the past 30 years, adults in the U.S. have been eating more and eating more often, say UNC researchers. “First, the food industry started ‘super-sizing,’ then snacking increased, and we were convince we needed to drink constantly to be hydrated,” said Barry Popkin, PhD, one study’s senior author and W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of nutrition. “This study shows how the epidemic has crept up on us. Negative changes in diet, activity and obesity are leading to explosions in healthcare costs and causing us to become a less healthy society.”
… and eating snack foods makes the problem worse
A high-fat diet can be bad for your health. However, a snack-food-based “cafeteria”-style diet of highly palatable, energy-dense foods is even worse, according to a study by UNC nutrition researchers. They showed that rats that ate snack foods commonly eaten by children and adults in the U.S. ate more, gained more weight, had more tissue inflammation and were more intolerant of glucose and insulin (warning signs of diabetes) than rats with highfat diets.
The study, featured on the cover of the June 2011 issue of Obesity, shows that the “cafeteria diet” (CAF), which mimics buffet-style access to junk food such as cookies and processed meats, contributed more to diet-induced obesity than common high-fat diets typically used in rodent studies. Rats fed the CAF diet consumed about 30 percent more calories than those eating high-fat or highsugar diets, says Liza Makowski, PhD, UNC nutrition assistant professor and the study’s senior author.
Olshan, Rusyn serve on NRC committee
A panel of the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council finalized a report in spring 2011 evaluating the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) assessment of formaldehyde, a chemical commonly used in industry and medicine. Andrew Olshan, PhD, professor and chair of epidemiology, was a vice-chair of the 15-person panel, and Ivan Rusyn, PhD, professor of environmental sciences and engineering, was a panel member.
The report is available at http://tinyurl.com/formaldehyde-report.
NC Breast Cancer Screening Program a national model
The North Carolina breast cancer screening program, designed to address health disparities between African-American and white women in eastern North Carolina, has been designated a Research-tested Intervention Program (RTIP) by the National Cancer Institute, making program information available to others throughout the U.S.
Led by Jo Anne Earp, ScD, professor of health behavior and health education, and developed by Earp and other UNC faculty members and students, the program continues to be requested by community organizations nearly two decades after its launch. Read more at http://tinyurl.com/nc-bc-screening.
Study: Nearly one in five young adults has hypertension
In a study published in the journal Epidemiology (see http://tinyurl.com/youngadult-hypertension), UNC researchers analyzed data from the National Institutes of Health-funded National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. They found that 19 percent of the more than 14,000 men and women participants who were between 24 and 32 years old in 2008 had elevated blood pressure (hypertension). About half of those had been told by a health-care provider that they had the condition.
“The findings indicated that many young adults are at risk of developing heart disease but are unaware they have hypertension,” says epidemiology doctoral student and lead author Quynh Nguyen.
Water and health conference brings international experts to Chapel Hill
More than 450 attendees, including the world’s leading water experts, gathered in Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 3-7, 2011, for the second annual conference on “Water and Health: Where Science Meets Policy.” Hosted by the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Water Institute at UNC and the College of Arts and Sciences’ UNC Institute for the Environment, the conference focused upon water-related research, policy and practice.
Jamie Bartram, PhD, director of the Water Institute and professor of environmental sciences and engineering at UNC’s public health school, and Lawrence E. Band, PhD, director of the Institute for the Environment and Voit Gilmore Distinguished Professor of Geography, were co-directors.
Attendees from nearly 35 countries represented a wide range of organizations, including the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CARE, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Save the Children, The World Bank and others.
Sponsors included the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Procter & Gamble Children’s Safe Drinking Water program, Pfizer Inc., International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, Aquatest, Environmental Science & Technology journal, FHI 360, Neerman Research & Consulting, ProCleanse Water Filtration, Suez
Environnement/United Water, and Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group.
Pfizer Inc. sponsored a keynote lecture by Jeff Chapin, senior designer at global design firm IDEO. Chapin designed an award-winning, low-cost latrine — 40,000 of which have been sold in rural Cambodia. See a video of Chapin’s talk.
“The water and health conference is part of an ongoing effort to bring UNC’s WaSH [water, sanitation and hygiene] expertise to bear on the growing challenges of providing safe water and adequate sanitation to the people of North Carolina, the nation and the world,” Bartram says. “It is the annual event in the field where real issues are tackled with imagination, innovation and commitment.”
The 2012 conference is scheduled for Oct. 29 – Nov. 2 in Chapel Hill. Learn more at www.waterinstitute.unc.edu.
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 January 30, 2012