This Week @ Gillings: The Abstract

January 31, 2022

Whether you’re local or global, student or alumni, the Abstract’s weekly news digest will help you stay in the loop with our amazing Gillings School community.

Mundt appointed N.C. assistant secretary for clean energy economic development

Jennifer Mundt

Jennifer Mundt

On January 19, North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders, MHA, announced that Jennifer Mundt, MSPH, will serve as the department’s first assistant secretary of clean energy economic development. In this role, she will lead efforts to develop opportunities in the clean energy industry for N.C., with a focus on economic development and workforce opportunities.

The state’s Clean Energy Plan calls for the Utilities Commission to reduce carbon emissions by 70% by 2030, and Mundt’s work at N.C. Commerce will be crucial to the plan’s success. Offshore wind has already been identified as a distinct opportunity for N.C., and she will focus on developing a local supply chain and coordinating with federal agencies to lease offshore areas for wind energy development.

Mundt – who earned a Master of Science in Public Health from the Gillings School’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering in 2007 – has previously served as a legislative analyst for the N.C. General Assembly and, most recently, policy advisor in the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.

Ijdi explores association between neonatal mortality and place of delivery

Rashida-E Ijdi

Rashida-E Ijdi

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals, agreed on by all member nations, provided a blueprint to meet the needs of the world’s poorest people by 2015. Bangladesh succeeded in meeting MDG 4, which called for a two-thirds reduction in the global mortality rate of children under five years old, but progress has stagnated.

Recent alum of the Gillings School, Rashida-E Ijdi, MPH ’20 (maternal and child health), worked with Katherine Tumlinson, PhD, assistant professor, and Siân L. Curtis, PhD, associate professor, both in the Gillings School’s Department of Maternal and Child Health, to look for factors that could explain this stagnation. Specifically, they focused on the association between place of delivery and newborn care with early neonatal mortality, choosing early neonatal mortality because it accounted for more than 80% of neonatal mortality in the country.

This research, originally conducted as part of Ijdi’s master’s thesis, was recently published PLOS ONE. Though the team did not find a significant association between place of deliver and mortality, the work points to the importance and effectiveness of proper postnatal care. In fact, newborns who had received any postnatal care were 68% less likely to die in the early neonatal period than those who had not received any.

WHO cites Hoffman’s research in guidance for COVID-19 vaccine trials

Elaine Hoffman

Dr. Elaine Hoffman

Elaine Hoffman, PhD, coauthored an article published in Contemporary Clinical Trials in January 2021 exploring innovative ways to design and analyze data from vaccine trials. The World Health Organization relied on this research in developing international policy guidelines for ethical considerations in the design of clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines.

Hoffman, who has more than 20 years of experience as a biostatistician within industry and academia, is senior director and head of vaccine statistics at Takeda Pharmaceuticals. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy from the Gillings School’s Department of Biostatistics in 1998 and has maintained close ties to the School ever since, currently serving on the board of the School’s Public Health Foundation.

The article, “Innovative Trial Designs and Analyses for Vaccine Clinical Development,” which appears in the January 2021 version of the journal Contemporary Clinical Trials, reviews innovations in the design of clinical trials and their promise for increasing the efficiency of developing vaccines for future outbreaks of infectious disease. The WHO cited this document in its November 2021 policy brief, “COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Designs in the Context of Authorized COVID-19 Vaccines and Expanding Global Access: Ethical Considerations.”

Gillings faculty contribute to new book on leading systems change in public health

Jeannine Herrick Headshot

Jeannine Herrick

Dr. Oscar Fleming

Dr. Oscar Fleming

Two Gillings School faculty members have partnered with de Beaumont Foundation and Springer Publishing as well as leading experts across the public health spectrum on Leading Systems Change in Public Health: A Field Guide for Practitioners.

Jeannine Herrick, MPH, co-authored two chapters on developing teams for systems change work and on how to lead systems change work that highlights examples of emerging leaders in public health. Oscar Fleming, DrPH, authored a chapter on leadership opportunities related to the use of implementation science in support of complex systems change.

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