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From the journals

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Dr. Herbert Peterson

Dr. Herbert B. Peterson

Increasing access to family planning will play a central role in achieving U.N. targets for maternal health, eradication of poverty, education and gender equality, according to a major new Series on Family Planning published July 10 by The Lancet. Herbert B. Peterson, MD, Kenan Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Maternal and Child Health, played a key role in the series.

 

 

 

Dr. Sally Stearns

Dr. Sally C. Stearns

Dr. Gary Rozier

Dr. R. Gary Rozier

Sally C. Stearns, PhD, and R. Gary Rozier, DDS, MPH, professors of health policy and management, led a study of the cost-effectiveness of Into the Mouths of Babes, a Medicaid program operating in North Carolina since 2000. Results were published online Aug. 27 in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

 

 

 

Dr. Kurt Ribisl

Dr. Kurt Ribisl

Minors easily can purchase alcohol online as a result of poor age verification, according to a study co-authored by Kurt Ribisl, PhD, professor of health behavior. Rebecca Williams, PhD, research associate at UNC’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, was lead author of the study, published in the May Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

 

 

 

Dr. Karin Yeatts

Dr. Karin Yeatts

The rapid shift from nomadic life to modern-day culture in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) exposes the population to significant indoor air quality risks that can lead to respiratory illness, according to a study led by epidemiology assistant professor Karin Yeatts, PhD. The study was published May 1 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

 

 

 

Dr. Harsha Thirumurthy

Dr. Harsha Thirumurthy

Harsha Thirumurthy, PhD, assistant professor of health policy and management, co-authored an article in the May Bulletin of the World Health Organization suggesting that use of text messaging and other mobile phone applications may be an increasingly effective and cost-efficient means of improving health outcomes, especially in developing countries.

 

 

 

A rapid growth spurt in childhood could foretell obesity in adulthood, according to a study authored by 2012 health policy and management alumnus Daniel Belsky, PhD, and published in the June Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.

 

Dr. Asheley Skinner

Dr. Asheley Cockrell Skinner

A study led by alumna and adjunct assistant professor Asheley Cockrell Skinner, PhD, published online Sept. 10 in Pediatrics, finds a surprising difference in the eating habits of overweight children between ages 9 and 17 years, compared to those younger than 9. Younger overweight children consume more daily calories than do healthy-weight peers, but older overweight children consume fewer calories than peers.

 

 

 

Dr. Anastasia Ivanova

Dr. Anastasia Ivanova

A recent clinical trial testing a combination therapy for basal-like, or triple-negative, breast cancer demonstrates that a combination of two drugs with promising preclinical results is not as effective as researchers had hoped. Anastasia Ivanova, PhD, associate professor of biostatistics, was co-author of the study, published online June 4 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

 

 

 

Dr. Barry Popkin

Dr. Barry Popkin

Dr. Shu-wen Ng

Dr. Shu Wen Ng

New research finds a global decline in activity levels and predicts a continuing rise in inactivity in countries around the world. The study, conducted by Barry Popkin, PhD, W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of nutrition, and Shu Wen Ng, PhD, research assistant professor of nutrition, used extensive data from the 1960s onward to determine how people around the world spend their time and how they move in the course of their daily lives. Findings were published online June 14 in Obesity Reviews.

 

Dr. Cynthia Bulik

Dr. Cynthia Bulik

A study led by Cynthia Bulik, PhD, nutrition professor, Jordan Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders (psychiatry), and director of the UNC Eating Disorders Program, found that age is no barrier to disordered eating. In women ages 50 and over, 3.5 percent report binge eating, nearly 8 percent report purging, and more than 70 percent are trying to lose weight. The study was published online June 21 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

 

 

Dr. Liza Makowski

Dr. Liza Makowski

A diet based on American junk food could lead to more obesity-induced inflammation than a diet high in animal fat, according to a study led by Liza Makowski, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition, and published June 12 in the Public Library of Science One (PLoS ONE). The study analyzed inflammatory responses in rats fed different diets: control diets, a lard-based high-fat diet and a “cafeteria junk-food” diet consisting of nutrient-poor snacks. Researchers found that the junk-food diet caused the most inflammation and dramatic metabolic changes.

 

 

Dr. Barry Popkin

Dr. Barry Popkin

Barry Popkin, PhD, W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of nutrition, and colleagues found that Chinese teenagers have a rate of diabetes nearly four times greater than their U.S. counterparts. The rise in diabetes incidence parallels increases in cardiovascular risk and is the result of a Chinese population that is growing increasingly overweight. Findings were published in the September Obesity Reviews.

 

 

 

Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen

Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen

More than three-quarters of Chinese adults have at least one risk factor for Type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease, according to new data in a long-term study led by nutrition associate professor Penny Gordon-Larsen, PhD, and published July 19 in the journal Obesity. Rates of hypertension, diabetes and triglycerides are particularly high, the study reports, even in the young and trim.

 

 

 

Dr. Deborah Tate

Dr. Deborah Tate

A customized weight loss program may cost less to implement than a traditional weight loss program, despite having similar results, according to a study co-authored by Deborah Tate, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and health behavior, and published June 27 in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Tate and colleagues describe a stepped-care program that begins with a low-intensity intervention increased or adjusted if weight loss milestones are not achieved as planned.

 

 

Dr. Christine Rini

Dr. Christine Rini

Christine Rini, PhD, associate professor of health behavior, and colleagues report that cancer rumors – such as the idea that one can get cancer from being in contact with a cancer patient – may affect health-related behaviors and medical decision-making. Results of the study were published online June 22 in the Journal of Health Communication.

 

 

 

Tania Desrosiers

Dr. Tania Desrosiers

A study published July 9 in Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that certain jobs held by men before they conceive a child may increase risk for various birth defects. Led by epidemiology researcher Tania Desrosiers, PhD, the study found certain birth abnormalities were associated with fathers who were artists, photographers and landscapers, among other professions.

 

 

 

Dr. Nab Dasgupta

Nabarun Dasgupta

Data from national poison control centers may provide the best indicator of deaths by methadone overdose in the United States. Methadone is an opioid linked to 30 percent of deaths attributed to prescription painkiller overdose. Nabarun Dasgupta, epidemiology doctoral candidate, led the study, published July 19 in the journal PLoS One.

 

 

 

Dr. Jennifer Smith

Dr. Jennifer Smith

A study led by senior author Jennifer Smith, PhD, research associate professor of epidemiology, strengthens the argument for human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in men. Published June 18 in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the study of 2,228 Kenyan men presents the first epidemiological data in men on the type-specific associations between prevalent HPV infections and future acquisition of other HPV types.

 

 

 

Dr. William Carpenter

Dr. William Carpenter

Dr. Michael Kosorok

Dr. Michael Kosorok

Dr. Til Stürmer

Dr. Til Stürmer

Research that compares the effectiveness of different cancer treatments should be accelerated – and the findings promoted and accepted – according to a recent study by William Carpenter, PhD, assistant professor of health policy and management, Michael Kosorok, PhD, professor and chair of biostatistics, and Til Stürmer, MD, PhD, professor of epidemiology. Published online April 20 in Cancer, the study includes a literature review and interviews with 41 cancer comparative effectiveness research (CER) scientists.

Grants
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Dr. Dianne Ward

Dr. Dianne Ward

A new $3.3 million project to combat childhood obesity while helping owners of home-based child care facilities adopt healthy practices will be undertaken by a UNC-Duke partnership. Led by the School’s Dianne Ward, EdD, professor of nutrition, and Duke’s Truls Ostbye, MD, PhD, the “Healthy You, Healthy Home, Healthy Business” project will help child-care providers become healthy role models and establish environments that support good nutrition and physical activity. Ostbye is professor of community and family medicine.

 

 

Zeisel_HeadShot_recolored

Dr. Steven H. Zeisel

UNC’s Nutrition Research Institute (NRI), in Kannapolis, N.C., received a Grand Challenges Explorations award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Steven H. Zeisel, MD, PhD, Institute director and Kenan Distinguished University Professor of nutrition, will pursue a research project titled “Choline and Optimal Development.” Zeisel is credited with the discovery of choline’s role as an essential nutrient, particularly for fetal and infant development. The grant enables Zeisel and colleagues to design a diet intervention that can be implemented in The Gambia, where diet provides less than half of recommended adequate intake.

 

 

Dr. Ivan Rusyn

Dr. Ivan Rusyn

Dr. Fred Wright

Dr. Fred Wright

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a three-year, $1.2 million grant for research conducted by the Carolina Center for Computational Toxicology (comptox.unc.edu). Ivan Rusyn, MD, PhD, professor of environmental sciences and engineering, is principal investigator for the project, “Assays, models and tools for NextGen safety assessments.” Fred Wright, PhD, professor of biostatistics, and Alexander Tropsha, PhD, professor and associate dean for research at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, are project co-investigators.

 

Dr. Til Stürmer

Dr. Til Stürmer

Til Stürmer, MD, PhD, received a $690,502 award from the nonprofit Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute for his project, “Methods to Increase Validity of Comparative Effectiveness Research in the Elderly.” He leads an interdisciplinary team to examine methodologies to compare effectiveness of elderly patients’ treatment after myocardial infarction, especially in terms of their risk for re-infarction and hospitalization.

 

 

 

Dr. Suzanne Maman

Dr. Suzanne Maman

Suzanne Maman, PhD, associate professor of health behavior, received a five-year, $2.6 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health for an innovative microfinance and health study in Tanzania. Maman’s team will offer small loans and leadership training to young men as a strategy to reduce HIV risk and partner violence.

 

 

 

Dr. Peggy Bentley

Dr. Peggy Bentley

Margaret (Peggy) Bentley, PhD, Carla Smith Chamblee Distinguished Professor of Global Nutrition, received a five-year grant of about $3 million from The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Bentley’s study, “Mothers and Others: Family-based Obesity Prevention for Infants and Toddlers,” will develop and implement tailored nutrition interventions for mothers and families of non-Hispanic black infants, a group at high risk for pediatric obesity.

 

 

Dr. Ralph Baric

Dr. Ralph S. Baric

Ralph S. Baric, PhD, professor of epidemiology, and Mark T. Heise, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at UNC’s medical school, will lead a five-year, $21.4 million research study that could result in more effective treatments for life-threatening viral infections of the lungs and central nervous system, such as SARS, influenza and West Nile virus. The project’s long-term aims are to identify key immune regulatory genes and networks that control disease severity, better understand how immune compartments “talk” to one another and determine disease outcomes after infection.

 

 

In other news…
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School welcomes Lytle as health behavior chair

Dr. Leslie Lytle

Dr. Leslie Lytle

Leslie A. Lytle, PhD, former professor of epidemiology and community health in the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, became chair of the School’s health behavior department on Oct. 1. She holds a joint professorship in the School’s nutrition department. Lytle received a bachelor’s degree in medical dietetics (Pennsylvania State University), master’s degree in education (Purdue University) and doctoral degree in health education and health behavior (University of Michigan), completing postdoctoral training in cardiovascular health behavior in University of Minnesota’s epidemiology division. Lytle succeeds Jo Anne Earp, ScD.

 

Davis takes on leadership of CSCC

Dr. Sonia Davis

Dr. Sonia Davis

Sonia Davis, DrPH, is the new director of the Collaborating Studies Coordinating Center (CSCC), based in the Department of Biostatistics. Davis received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in biostatistics from UNC and previously was a senior director at Quintiles Inc. An adjunct faculty member in the department since 1995, she is now Professor of the Practice. Read more about the CSCC’s illustrious history at tinyurl.com/CSCC-turns-40.

 

 

UNC presents 18th annual summer videoconference on minority health
UNC’s National Health Equity Research Webcast, formerly known as the Summer Public Health Research Institute and Videoconference on Minority Health, was held June 5. This year’s topic was “Social determinants of health disparities: Moving the nation to care about social justice.” Read more at www.sph.unc.edu/minority_health_project.

In memoriam
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Robert Millikan

Dr. Robert Millikan

Dr. Robert Millikan

Dr. Robert Millikan, Barbara Sorenson Hulka Distinguished Professor in Cancer Epidemiology, died Oct. 7. He was 55.

A member since 1993 of the School’s epidemiology faculty and of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dr. Millikan’s research brought hope for better understanding and treatment of breast cancer, particularly for young African-American women who disproportionately die from the disease. Data from UNC Lineberger’s Carolina Breast Cancer Study, which Dr. Millikan directed for more than 15 years, demonstrated that black women under age 45 are more likely to be diagnosed with aggressive types of breast cancer than are women of European ancestry. The NCI program grant, which he led, will result in a better understanding of this significant health disparity by collecting information about more than 5,000 women to explore biological, environmental and epidemiologic reasons for the difference in cancer incidence.

Dr. Millikan earned undergraduate and doctoral degrees in veterinary medicine from University of California at Davis and a Master of Public Health and Doctor of Philosophy in epidemiology from University of California at Los Angeles. He was a postdoctoral fellow in molecular biology at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and completed internships in medicine and surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

His wisdom and kindness will be missed greatly.

John Vernon

Dr. John Vernon

Dr. John Vernon

John Andrew Vernon, PhD, 43, died on June 19. An assistant professor of health policy and management at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health since 2008, he earned an undergraduate degree at Duke University, master’s degree at North Carolina State University and doctorate from the University of London, all in economics. He also held a doctorate in management science from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Prior to joining the UNC public health faculty, Dr. Vernon served as senior economic policy adviser in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research and assistant professor of finance at the University of Connecticut. On several occasions, he was called upon for expert testimony at Congressional committee hearings.

James Abernathy
James R. Abernathy, PhD, retired professor of biostatistics, died Sept. 3, at age 86. He was a well-known international demographer who, over his 30-year career, pioneered statistical research in maternal and child health programs, epidemiological investigations, public health nursing and dental health services, and served as a statistical consultant to national agencies, including the National Center for Health Statistics and the World Health Organization. An alumnus, he joined the School’s faculty in 1965. He directed the International Program of Laboratories for Population Statistics (POPLAB), a USAID-funded project conducted through Carolina Population Center, from 1980 to 1983.

Richard Udry
J. Richard Udry, PhD, Kenan Distinguished Professor of maternal and child health and sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, died on July 29, after a long illness. He was 83. During his nearly 50-year career, Dr. Udry pioneered research that integrated biological and sociological models of human behavior in the areas of adolescent behavior and health, sexual behavior and women’s gender roles, and developed the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). He directed UNC’s Carolina Population Center from 1977 to 1992.


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Carolina Public Health is a publication of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. To view previous issues, please visit sph.unc.edu/cph.