November 29, 2010

Dr. Michael Kafrissen

Dr. Michael Kafrissen

Mike Kafrissen and Bert Peterson have been friends and colleagues for more than a quarter-century. As obstetrics and gynecology physicians, members of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service and faculty members at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, they have worked in concert to improve the health of women and children around the world.

Dr. Bert Peterson holding Nikhil Gomez (photo by Anu Manchikanti Gomez)

Dr. Bert Peterson holding Nikhil Gomez (photo by Anu Manchikanti Gomez)

Kafrissen, School alumnus, research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chief Scientific Officer for Johnson & Johnson’s North American Pharmaceutical Company, and adjunct professor of maternal and child health at UNC, says UNC -Chapel Hill has been instrumental in his career path.

“During a recent visit to the campus, I felt led to increase my involvement with our school,” Kafrissen says. “I was moved by my conversations with Bert [Herbert Peterson, MD, Kenan Distinguished Professor and chair of the School’s Department of Maternal and Child Health] and his passion for and optimism about the current effort to reduce maternal mortality.”

As a result of those conversations – and subsequent ones with Dean Barbara K. Rimer and UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp – Kafrissen presented the School with a generous gift, which was matched 2-to-1 by his former employer, Johnson & Johnson.

The funding helps support Peterson’s efforts as director of the UNC -based World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Research Evidence in Sexual and Reproductive Health. The Center helps WHO and other leading United Nations health agencies as they develop and implement science-driven solutions for preventing maternal deaths in the 25 countries in which most such deaths occur.

“Mike has helped us immensely,” Peterson says. “His wisdom and expertise have been absolutely invaluable, and his generous gift is key in getting this important work off the ground.”

Linda Kastleman

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