Sheila Leatherman

Sheila Leatherman, CBE, Hon FRCP

Professor of Global Health Policy
Department of Health Policy and Management
Gillings Global Advisor
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health


Sheila Leatherman's professional experience stretches across the breadth of health care management, public health and health policy with expertise in quality of care, performance improvement in the health sector, and health systems reforms. She has worked with over 50 countries globally across Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America. Most of her research and policy analysis has been on developing methods to assess health system performance and advising governments on how to improve quality of care in countries throughout the world.

She was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2002 as a member of the Institute of Medicine. In 2007 she was awarded the honor of Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for her work in the National Health Service for over a decade and was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP) in the UK in 2008. In 2019, she received the Presidential Distinction Award of the International Society for Quality in recognition of her work in low- and medium-income countries. In May of 2020, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative appointed her to the Polio Transition Independent Monitoring Board, which assures functions needed to maintain a polio-free world are mainstreamed into public health programs globally.

Currently, as a Lead Advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) she develops the academic and technical foundations for WHO support of Member States in the development of national health care quality agendas to improve health care services and outcomes globally.  Her current research focuses on improving health care in extreme adversity and is the academic foundation for the 2021 WHO publication, Quality of Care in Fragile, Conflict-Affected and Vulnerable Settings: Taking Action (2020).

Through her work as a Gillings Global Advisor with Research, Innovation and Global Solutions, she is developing a Gillings Humanitarian Health Initiative (HHI). Currently, two billion people live in countries where development outcomes are affected by fragility, conflict, and violence (FCV). The GHI aims to strengthen internal efforts to grow interest and institutional capability, seek funding, strengthen partnerships and create standing capacity to provide service and support through faculty and student participation. Activities will include education and awareness-building, internships, service projects and advocacy.

Sheila Leatherman in the Gillings News

Research Activities

  • International health policy
  • Evaluation of health systems performance
  • Quality measurement and improvement
  • Integrating microfinance with community health programs
  • Evaluation of health and well-being in refugee settlements


  • BA, Anthropology, Tulane University, 1972
  • MSW, Social Work, University of Arkansas, 1974