Nutrition faculty members conduct training in China

June 13, 2012

Ten members of the nutrition epidemiology faculty at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health traveled to Suzhou, China, May 28 through June 1 to collaborate with and train Chinese public health leaders.

The training was conducted under the auspices of the China Health and Nutrition Survey, a joint program of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) and the CCDC’s National Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety (NINFS).
Those participating from the UNC public health school were Linda Adair, PhD, professor; Shufa Du, PhD, research assistant professor; Penny Gordon-Larsen, PhD, associate professor; Ka He, ScD, associate professor; Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, professor; Michelle Mendez, PhD, assistant professor; Shuwen Ng, PhD, research assistant professor; Barry Popkin, PhD, W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor; Anna Maria Siega-Riz, PhD, professor and associate dean for academic affairs; and June Stevens, PhD, American Institute for Cancer Research/World Cancer Research Fund Distinguished Professor and nutrition department chair.
The UNC group led a workshop on nutrition study design attended by 50 senior leaders from the CCDC, 12 provincial CCDC nutrition departments, and the vice president of the Chinese Nutrition Society.
On June 1, 150 public health nutritionists from China participated in a one-day Public Health Nutrition Conference, at which Adair, Mendez, Ng and Stevens made presentations. The conference was supported by an ongoing National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to the UNC nutrition department aimed at improving research skills, research quality and journal publication skills of UNC’s collaborators at the NINFS and the provincial CDCs, each of which functions similarly to a state or local health department.
Popkin is principal investigator for both the training grant and the CHNS.
“This was a great opportunity for our faculty, many of whom already have begun joint projects with the CCDC, to deepen our ties and expand interactions with our collaborators,” Popkin said. “We learned a great deal, and our Chinese collaborators felt that they not only gained new skills and knowledge but also were able to forge new relationships with people in our group. In fact, the work was so successful that our Chinese collaborators already are suggesting various other joint research and large-scale intervention options and already have asked about undertaking a similar effort in several years.”
The China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS) is a multipurpose public health longitudinal study that has followed more than 29,000 individuals in 300 communities throughout China between 1989 and 2011. Surveys were conducted in 1989, 1991, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2011. All 12 Chinese provinces participate in the survey, representing about 60 percent of China’s population. The information rendered by the survey is particularly rich, as a unique multilevel data structure allows clustered research at the individual, household, community and province levels. There are 11,431 groups around the world that have downloaded and used the CHNS, and a number of UNC faculty members have received NIH grants for research using CHNS data.
Amanda Thompson, PhD, assistant professor of anthropology in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences, and Frances Dancy, business officer at Carolina Population Center and administrative director of the China Health and Nutrition Survey, also took part in the workshops. Fengying Zhai, previous principal investigator for the Chinese effort on the project, professor emeritus at the CCDC and vice president of the Chinese Nutrition Society, and Dr. Bing Zhang, current CHNS director, share the CHNS leadership role with Popkin as directors of the Chinese participants.


UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Linda Kastleman, communications editor, (919) 966-8317 or