Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD

Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Nutrition and Medicine
Department of Nutrition
UNC Nutrition Obesity Research Center
UNC Graduate School


Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, RD, is the Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Nutrition and Medicine. She has focused her career on diabetes, including the epidemiology and natural history of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children and adults. Her research addresses the many ways in which nutrition can impact on the risk for development of diabetes, and on the risk of complications of either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Studies have typically included culturally and regionally diverse populations. Dr. Mayer-Davis’ primary focus now is on type 1 diabetes in youth and young adults, with a focus on overall diabetes self-management and on energy balance and weight management for individuals with type 1 diabetes. Dr. Mayer-Davis is Principal Investigator for the Carolina site of the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study, and she serves as the national co-chairperson for this large multi-center study. Recently funded studies address nutritional factors that may improve prognosis for adolescents with type 1 diabetes, and behavioral strategies to help youth with type 1 diabetes better manage their disease. New work focuses on metabolic, clinical and behavioral challenges in weight management for individuals with type 1 diabetes. Intervention strategies are patient-centered, using problem solving skills training and motivational interviewing that incorporates communication technologies as desired by the patient. Studies include large epidemiological studies as well as clinical trials, including adaptive interventions and adaptive designs. Dr. Mayer-Davis is very active in the American Diabetes Association and was the 2011 President for Health Care and Education for the Association. She served on the Board of Directors for the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), and she currently serves on the ASN Foundation Board. Dr. Mayer-Davis was recently appointed to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee by the Secretary of the USDA and the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services. She also served as an appointee of President Obama on the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health.

Elizabeth Mayer-Davis in the Gillings News

Representative Courses

Grant Writing Seminar (NUTR 728)

Research Activities

FL3X: An Adaptive Intervention to Improve Outcomes for Youth with Type 1 Diabetes

Tribal Turning Point Program

Emergence of Cardiometabolic Risk Across the Lifecycle in China

UNC Center for Diabetes Translation Research to Reduce Health Disparities.

SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth, Phase 3: Cohort Study - Carolina Center

Research Interests: Diabetes, Health Equity, Nutrition and Physical Activity, Obesity

Service Activities

2013: Present: ADA Past President of Health Care and Education Research Policy
2011: 2016: Appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health

2017-2018: UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Executive Committee
2017-2018: UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Hearing Committee
2016-2017: UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Council (ex oficio)
2017: UNC-Chapel Hill Distinguished Professorship Committee
2017: UNC-Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health: Organization and Development Task Force
2017: UNC-CH University Distinguished Professors Selection Committee
2016-2017: UNC-Chapel Hill NC Translational Research and Clinical Sciences (TraCS) Steering Committee
2016-Present: UNC-Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health: Chair of the Chairs
2016: UNC-Capel Hill Search Committee for School of Nursing Dean
2015-2016: UNC-Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health: Organizational Plan Steering Committee
2015-2016: UNC-Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health: MPH Core Planning Committee
2015: UNC-Chapel Hill Food Theme Steering Committee

Key Publications

Incidence Trends of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes among Youths, 2002-2012. Mayer-Davis EJ, Lawrence JM, Dabelea D, Divers J, Isom S, Dolan L, Imperatore G, Linder B, Marcovina S, Pettitt DJ, Pihoker C, Saydah S, Wagenknecht L; SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study.  (2017). N Engl J Med., 376(15), 1419-1429.

Association of Type 1 Diabetes vs Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed During Childhood and Adolescence With Complications During Teenage Years and Young Adulthood. Dabelea D, Stafford JM, Mayer-Davis EJ, D'Agostino R Jr, Dolan L, Imperatore G, Linder B, Lawrence JM, Marcovina SM, Mottl AK, Black MH, Pop-Busui R, Saydah S, Hamman RF, Pihoker C; SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Research Group. (2017). JAMA., 317(8), 825-835.

Complications of Diabetes Diagnosed in Children and Adolescents-Reply. Dabelea D, D'Agostino R Jr, Mayer-Davis EJ.  (2017). JAMA., 317(24), 2553-2554.

The dose-response effect of insulin sensitivity on albuminuria in children according to diabetes type. D Dabelea, J Divers, L Dolan, G Imperatore, D Maahs, S Marcovina, M Mauer, E Mayer-Davis, A Mottl, D Pettitt, C Pihoker (2016). Pediatric nephrology (Berlin, Germany), 31(6), 933-40.

An efficient approach for surveillance of childhood diabetes by type derived from electronic health record data: the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study. D Beavers, D Bowlby, T Carey, J Craig, D Dabelea, R Hamman, L Jaacks, J Lawrence, E Mayer-Davis, J Obeid, E Pfaff, C Pihoker, S Saydah, J Thomas, V Zhong (2016). Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA.

Association between breastfeeding and insulin sensitivity among young people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes: the SEARCH Nutrition Ancillary Study. J Crandell, T Crume, D Dabelea, A Lamichhane, J Lawrence, E Mayer-Davis, C Shay, N The, S Wang (2016). Diabetic medicine : a journal of the British Diabetic Association.

Association of adherence to a Mediterranean diet with glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in youth with type I diabetes: the SEARCH Nutrition Ancillary Study. S Couch, J Crandell, D Dabelea, G Kim, A Lamichhane, J Lawrence, A Liese, S Marcovina, E Mayer-Davis, N The, B Tzeel, V Zhong (2016). European journal of clinical nutrition.

Longitudinal association between television watching and computer use and risk markers in diabetes in the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study. B Beech, T Crume, R D'Agostino, D Dabelea, J Kaar, C Li, A Liese, E Mayer-Davis, A Merchant, R Pate, D Pettitt, B Rodriguez, C Taplin (2015). Pediatric diabetes, 16(5), 382-91.

Trends and characteristics of self-reported case presentation of diabetes diagnosis among youth from 2002 to 2010: findings from the SEARCH for diabetes in youth study. R D'Agostino, D Dabelea, J Divers, L Henkin, G Imperatore, G Klingensmith, J Lawrence, E Mayer-Davis, C Pihoker, S Saydah (2015). Diabetes care, 38(6), e84-5.


  • PhD, Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley, 1992
  • MSPH, Public Health (with honors), University of Colorado School of Medicine, 1986
  • BS, Dietetics, University of Tennessee, 1980