Whitney Robinson, PhD

Allison E. AielloAssistant Professor


Curriculum Vitae
REACH NC (Collexis) Research Profile

2104B Mcgavran-Greenberg Hall
135 Dauer Drive
Campus Box 7435
Chapel Hill 27599-7435
T: 919-966-7940
F: 919-966-2089


Dr. Robinson is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, a fellow at the Carolina Population Center, and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. The central theme of Dr. Robinson’s research is methodologic innovation for identifying the causes of population inequalities in cancer and obesity incidence. A common theoretical underpinning of her work is the lifecourse framework, particularly hypotheses that stress and nutritional exposures during critical periods in utero and during childhood have enduring effects on adult health risk. Her work has shown that childhood obesity is not a major driver of the Black-White disparity in prostate cancer incidence. She has also found that perinatal and childhood poverty and stress may predispose females, more so than males, to adult obesity. She has used age-period-cohort analysis to predict future trends in obesity prevalence in Millennials. Ongoing research investigates causes of race- and SES-based disparities in breast cancer incidence.

2001 Harvard University AB, biochemical sciences
2004 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill MSPH, epidemiology
2008 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill PhD, epidemiology

Research Interests

  • Breast cancer disparities
  • Obesity development
  • Epidemiologic methods
  • Health disparities by gender
  • Health disparities by race and ethnicity


EPID 827 Social Epidemiology: Analysis and Interpretation

Key publications

VanderWeele T, Robinson WR (in press, 2014). On causal interpretations of race in regressions adjusting for confounding and mediating variables. Epidemiology

Robinson WR, Cheng MC, Hoggatt KJ, Stürmer T, Siega Riz AM. 2013. Childbearing is not associated with young women’s long-term obesity risk. Obesity 22(4):1126-32. doi: 10.1002/oby.20593

Robinson WR, Keyes KM, Utz RL, Martin CL, Yang Y. 2013. Birth cohort effects among adults born in the 1980s: Foreshadowing future trends in U.S. obesity prevalence. International Journal of Obesity 37 (3): 448-454. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.66

Robinson WR. 2012. Gender-specific effects of early nutritional restriction on adult obesity risk: evidence from quasi-experimental studies. Obesity 20 (12): 2464-6

Robinson WR, Gordon-Larsen P, Kaufman JS, Suchindran CM, Stevens J. 2009. The female-male disparity in obesity prevalence among Black American young adults: contributions of sociodemographic characteristics of the childhood family. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 89 (4): 1204-1212

Robinson WR, Poole C, Godley PA. 2008. Systematic review of prostate cancer’s association with body size in childhood and young adulthood. Cancer Causes & Control 19 (8): 793-803.

PubMed search.