Dr. Jo Anne Earp

Jo Anne Earp, ScD

Professor Emeritus
Department of Health Behavior
323D Rosenau Hall
CB #7440
Chapel Hill, NC 27599


Dr. Jo Anne Earp, professor emerita and past chair in the Department of Health Behavior — known for her fierceness and integrity, high impact research, commitment to equity and justice, and incredible devotion to mentoring — passed away in the early hours of November 18.

Dr. Earp’s 50-year legacy with the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and across generations of mentees was profoundly shaped by her early years on the front lines of the civil rights movement in Louisiana and Mississippi. After earning an English degree from Bryn Mawr in the early 1960s, she transferred to Newcomb College (now Tulane University) to be able to participate fully in the movement.

A defining moment for her came when she publicly confronted Ross Barnett, then governor of Mississippi, for his tacit complicity in the disappearance of her fellow civil rights activists James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. These experiences, and her recognition of the ways social stratification and inequities were reinforced through power structures across generations, would shape her decision to pursue a doctorate in science in medical sociology from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Public Health.

One of the first women to be appointed to the UNC School of Public Health faculty, Dr. Earp joined what was then called the Department of Health Education in 1974 to kick start their research program. She brought to her research and practice the same fiery passion she had displayed on the front lines of the civil rights movement.

In short order, she captured the department’s first National Institutes of Health grant; created and taught the first women’s health class at UNC-Chapel Hill; and developed the department’s first course on social and behavioral research methods. Her drive to end racial disparities carried through her career at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she co-founded the N.C. Breast Cancer Screening Program in the late 1980s, which was one of the first large-scale interventions testing the “lay health adviser” approach to promoting and protecting health.

Read the full announcement: Gillings School honors and mourns ‘force of nature’ Dr. Jo Anne Earp

Donations in memory of Dr. Earp may be made in support of The Jo Anne Earp Scholarship Fund in Health Behavior and Health Education (444561) or The Jo Anne Earp Distinguished Professorship in Health Behavior (444743) at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. Please make checks payable to the “UNC-CH Public Health Foundation” and mail to UNC-Chapel Hill, P.O. Box 309, Chapel Hill, NC 27514. (Please write “In memory of Jo Anne Earp” in the memo line and note if the gift is for the scholarship or professorship.) You may also donate online at go.unc.edu/JEarp.

Representative Courses

HBEH 765 Cancer Prevention and Control Seminar | Syllabus

Research Activities

Research interests
Cancer prevention and control
Health behavior
Health care delivery
Health communication
Health disparity reduction
Minority health
Patient advocacy
Sexually transmitted diseases
Women's health

Key Publications

Oncology Providers’ Perspectives on Endocrine Therapy Prescribing and Management. Wheeler, S.B., Roberts, M., Bloom, D., Reeder-Hayes, K., Espada, M, Peppercorn, J., Golin, C., Earp, J.A. (2016). Journal of Patient Preference and Adherence, Sep 30.

Upending the social ecological model to guide health promotion efforts toward policy and environmental change. Golden, S.D., McLeroy, K.R., Green, L.W., Earp, J.A., Lieberman, L.D (2015). Health Education and Behavior, 42(1 suppl):8S-14S.

Care Transitions in Childhood Cancer Survivorship: Providers' Perspectives. Mouw Mary S., Wertman Eleanor A., Barrington Clare, and Earp Jo Anne L (2016). Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology.


  • ScD, Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, 1974
  • BA, English, Bryn Mawr College, 1965