Dr. Leah Frerichs

Leah Frerichs, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Health Policy and Management
1105-A McGavran-Greenberg Hall
CB #7411
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7411


Dr. Leah Frerichs is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Leah’s research is focused on the intersection of community-based participatory research and systems science to address health disparities, largely in the area of chronic disease prevention. She has experience working with diverse communities including American Indian, Latino, and African Americans to develop, implement, and evaluate community-based interventions and policies.  Her work has had a major focus on understanding and developing interventions that target social and physical environment influences on youth’s health behaviors in underserved communities.  

Leah received her PhD from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Center for Health Equity Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to her doctoral studies, she managed a cancer prevention and control program for tribal communities in the Northern Plains. 

Research Activities

  •  Integration of engaged and participatory research with systems thinking and systems science
  • Social and physical environment influences on obesity and obesity-related health behaviors
  • System influences on health and wellness in underserved communities
  • American Indian cancer disparities
  • Simulation modeling and network analysis
  • Technology-based research and intervention

Key Publications

Integrating systems science and community based participatory research – an approach to achieve health equity. Frerichs, L., Hassmiller Lich, K., Dave, G., Corbie-Smith, G.  (2016). American Journal of Public Health, 106(2), 215-22.

Mobilising Policy Action for Obesity Prevention.  Huang, TTK, Cawley, J., Ashe, M., Costa, S., Frerichs, L., Zwicker, L., Rivera JA., Levy, D., Hammond, R., Lambert, E., Kumanyika, S. (2015). Lancet (doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61743-8).

The role of school design in shaping healthy eating-related attitudes, practices, and behaviors among school staff.  Frerichs, L., Brittin, J., Intolubbe-Chmil, L., Trowbridge, M., Sorensen, D., Huang, TTK. (2016). Journal of School Health (doi: 10.1111/josh.12347), 86(1), 11-22.

Modeling social transmission dynamics of unhealthy behaviors for evaluating prevention and treatment interventions on childhood obesity.  Frerichs, L., Araz, O., Huang, TTK. (2013). PLOS ONE. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082887).


  • BS, Community Health Education, Iowa State University, 2003
  • MS, Community and Behavioral Health, University of Iowa, 2005
  • PhD, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 2014