This Week @ Gillings: The Abstract

September 27, 2021

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.

Gillings alumni named among de Beaumont Foundation’s 40 Under 40 in Public Health

Dr. Naman Shah

Sadiya Muqueeth

Dr. Sadiya Muqueeth

The de Beaumont Foundation has recognized Sadiya Muqueeth, DrPH, and Naman Shah, MD, PhD, as rising leaders in public health by naming them to its 40 Under 4o in Public Health list.

Muqueeth earned a Master of Public Health degree from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health in 2012 and currently serves as director of community health for The Trust for Public Land, where she works to improve health and quality of life in communities through the built environment and nature.

“I am deeply humbled to be mentioned during this challenging time for our public health systems throughout the country and the world,” said Muqueeth.

Shah earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in epidemiology from the Gillings School in 2012 before earning a Doctor of Medicine degree from UNC in 2015. He now serves as a medical epidemiologist for the Los Angeles County Department of Health. Leading the county’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout, he supervised development and coordination of more than 500 vaccination sites, allocating over 6 million doses of vaccine.

“My goal is to work with great groups that believe in using public health as a vehicle for pushing social justice and participating in the dialogues and decisions that communities undertake,” said Shah.

The 40 under 40 list recognizes the contributions of leaders in professions ranging from epidemiology to emergency response and policy analysis to improving the health of communities across the country.

“At a time when public health professionals are being required to adapt and take on monumental challenges, we are incredibly proud of these leaders,” said Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation and fellow alumnus of the Gillings School. “We created the 40 Under 40 program to recognize and tell the stories of rising leaders who are making a difference in communities across the country. By promoting their work and accomplishments, we hope to attract and inspire a new generation of leaders.”

Remembering Dr. Maria Fernandez

Gillings School alumna Maria Erlinda (Ging) Fernandez, PhD ’90, passed away at her home on July 17, 2021, surrounded by family.

Born on February 15, 1946, she was raised in a rural community in the Philippines along with six siblings. A love for learning led her to become a faculty member at the University of San Carlos and later to receive a doctorate in public health at the Gillings School’s Department of Health Behavior. During her career, which included 20 years at the N.C. Department of Health and Human Resources, she was committed to public service and advocated for better care and funding for mental health.

The Gillings community mourns her passing. In lieu of flowers, her family asks that friends consider a donation in Ging’s honor to Freedom House Recovery Center. Read her obituary.

Zachary publishes new commentary in NC Medical Journal

Dr. Ciara Zachary

Dr. Ciara Zachary

Ciara Zachary, MPH, PhD, assistant professor of health policy and management, has published a new commentary in the September/October issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal. Titled “The American Rescue Plan Act: Protecting and Supporting Frontline Workers,” the commentary discusses how the American Rescue Plan aims to support front line workers, who have faced an increased risk of exposure, hospitalization and death during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law, it signaled the start of much-needed relief for the country, businesses, communities and frontline workers,” Zachary wrote in the commentary. “The Rescue Plan has $1.9 trillion intended not only for vaccinations for COVID-19 and other health services associated with testing and treatment, but also other supports such as economic stability and nutrition. Many of the Rescue Plan Act’s provisions build on existing safety-net programs and are linked to social determinants of health, addressing inequities experienced by many frontline workers who earn low wages. Safety-net programs are countercyclical, meaning that there is increased enrollment and need for these supports during times of economic hardship. So just as most government entities, organizations, and agencies are hoping to reduce spending, there is increased spending for safety-net programs so that households can continue to access resources for day-to-day needs.”

Read the full commentary.

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