New cervical cancer initiative aims to save lives

April 23, 2010

Supported by a $1.5 million gift from Glaxo- SmithKline, two of the School’s researchers are teaming up with N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue and others to “eradicate cervical cancer” in North Carolina– the first step toward ending the disease nationwide.

The Cervical Cancer-Free Initiative, led by Noel Brewer, PhD, assistant professor of health behavior and health education, and Jennifer S. Smith, PhD, research associate professor of epidemiology, will develop a plan for the state based on evidence that cervical cancer can be prevented through vaccines and effective screening. Former North Carolina State Health Director Leah Devlin, DDS, who is a Gillings Visiting Professor at the school, is an adviser to the project.

At the outset, the initiative aims to bring a coalition of stakeholders together to identify opportunities for and barriers to prevention, screening< and treatment. The researchers also will develop a project to increase in-school access to vaccines, including the HPV vaccine which prevents infection with the virus that causes most cervical cancer.

The initiative also will coordinate efforts in California (via the California Medical Association Foundation), Alabama and, eventually, other states. Each state will build a coalition of key stakeholders in cervical cancer prevention, including government, private, nonprofit and community groups.

“North Carolina is a tremendous leader in this multistate effort to end cervical cancer,” said Governor Perdue. “Initiatives like this go hand-in- hand with efforts such as our state’s investment in the University Cancer Research Fund, a historic commitment to preventing and treating cancer through innovative medical research within our world-class universities.”

- by Natalie Gott

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