Maternal and Child Health

Recent alumna Dr. Layla Lavasani (center, right) worked with women and children in Senegal to improve maternal and child health and nutrition.

Recent alumna Dr. Layla Lavasani (center, right) worked with women and children in Senegal to improve maternal and child health and nutrition.

Our maternal and child health department was founded in 1950 and is one of the world’s leading academic departments for research, teaching and practice. We are dedicated to improving the health of women, children and families — domestically and globally. Our teaching program provides students with broad exposure to maternal and child health population needs and priorities, as well as the skills to become leaders of tomorrow. Our faculty members represent a rich mix of academic backgrounds and interests, contributing expertise and leadership in a wide range of disciplines. We invite you to join us as we embark upon an exciting new year of scholarship, leadership and service.

Our research strengths include:

  • Developing a strong evidence base to improve health policies, programs and practices for women and children, locally and globally;
  • Working in interdisciplinary teams to develop innovative solutions for addressing health disparities among women and children;
  • Using innovative approaches, including implementation science, to support the successful implementation of proven women’s and children’s interventions at scale; and
  • Using quantitative and qualitative methods to improve the health of women, children and families in North Carolina, the nation and the world.

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Departmental activities

Peterson to step down, chair search begins

After serving 10 years as chair of the Department of Maternal and Child Health, Dr. Herbert Peterson will be stepping down effective June 30, 2014. Peterson will remain in the department as Kenan Distinguished professor and director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Research Evidence for Sexual and Reproductive Health. Dean Barbara Rimer has established a search committee that is now inviting applications for the position. [Read job description]

Check out the beta version of our new


Gillings Program Search (GPS) for prospective students. The GPS provides a search option for our School’s degree and non-degree programs, as well as the ability to drill down to an overview of each program’s quick facts and related information about how to apply.


Margolis receives McGavran Award 

Lewis Margolis, MD, MPH of maternal and child health, was named the 2014 recipient of the Edward G. McGavran Award for Excellence in Teaching. The UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health community nominates a full-time faculty member for career-long excellence in teaching.

Researchers study toxic metal levels in Vietnamese children 

 Jonathan Kotch, MD, MPH, professor, and Viet Nguyen, MD, project coordinator, of maternal and child health, and Rebecca Fry, PhD, of environmental sciences and engineering, measured whole blood lead levels and levels of toxic metals in toenails of children in a Vietnamese smelting village. The findings were published online in BioMed Central Public Health. [Read more]

Wilkinson awarded research grant

Andra Wilkinson, MSPH, maternal and child health doctoral student, has received a $33,622 grant from the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for her project “Sexual differences in long-term health implications of adolescent risk behavior.” Other members of her research team include Carolyn Halpern, PhD, professor and proposed interim chair of maternal and child health; Amy Herring, ScD, professor of biostatistics; and Eric Whitsel, MD, MPH, research associate professor of epidemiology.

CGBI awarded planning grant

Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute (CGBI), based in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Maternal and Child Health, will receive a one-year planning grant of $74,995 from the John Rex Endowment, the agency has announced. The funding will be used to explore prenatal and post-maternity breastfeeding support and care provided for the most vulnerable populations. [complete article]

Halpern proposed as interim department chair

Pending university approvals, Carolyn Halpern, PhD, will be appointed interim chair of the UNC Gillings School of Global Health’s Department of Maternal and Child Health, effective July 1. [complete article]

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