December 1, 2016
Her mother’s career – as a pediatrician, toxicologist, nephrologist and national expert on heavy metals and other toxins – was an inspiration to Marcia Angle. Not only was her mom, Dr. Carol Remmer Angle, a successful scientist in an era when women rarely were – but she chose to focus her knowledge and experience upon solving problems that particularly affected children and their families.
Marcia Angle became a physician, too. As a young practitioner wanting to refine her work with children and families, she enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill for a Master of Public Health degree in maternal and child health. That training made a remarkable difference in her life.
“It opened the doors to my 20-year career in global health [at IntraHealth] and to my responsibilities as medical director at the Orange County (N.C.) Health Department,” she says.
Years later, in 2003, Marcia and her mother decided to establish a lasting tribute to her mother’s career, which had inspired Marcia’s own life. The tribute took the form of a professorship at her alma mater – the Carol Remmer Angle Distinguished Professorship of Children’s Environmental Health at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
“Children, especially young ones, are particularly vulnerable to environmental toxins because their neurologic and metabolic systems are still developing,” Marcia Angle says. “That’s why we wanted to support research in this area. Recent studies suggest that antenatal environmental exposures can trigger potentially harmful changes in fetal cells, which even can be passed on generationally. Because we are all ingesting, breathing and even bathing our infants in ‘chemical soup,’ we are obligated to examine which toxins cause particular diseases – an inquiry that will benefit children and public health, in general.”
Two Gillings School faculty members have held the Angle professorship – Jonathan Kotch, MD, MPH, professor emeritus and former chair of maternal and child health (see tinyurl.com/kotch-named-angle-prof) and, beginning in 2015, Amy Herring, ScD, professor and associate chair of biostatistics at the School.
Kotch, who joined the UNC public health faculty in 1978, has a long history of policy and program experience in child care health and safety and a reputation for creating successful collaborations between the public health school and communities across North Carolina and around the world.
Herring, who joined the faculty in 2000, has conducted research on a wide range of topics, including birth defects, environmental and occupational exposures, and child and adolescent development. She has collaborated on projects examining the role of behavioral and environmental exposures in healthy pregnancies and developed new statistical methods to study relationships between complex exposures and pregnancy outcome.
“UNC-Chapel Hill has been known for its stellar school of public health for many decades,” Angle says. “I knew that’s where I wanted to put my support. The university, and particularly the Gillings School, has worked to break down traditional silos. Children’s environmental health encompasses both the built environment (such as child-care centers, an area in which Dr. Kotch was a national leader) as well as contaminants in our air, food and water, which require ingenious statistical analysis to untangle. That is why Dr. Herring, as a top biostatistician, is also an excellent match for tackling the challenges of children’s environmental health.”
Herring says she was particularly honored to have been awarded the professorship.
“I am proud to be connected to Dr. Carol Remmer Angle, whose career in pediatrics and toxicology includes important work in lead poisoning and poison control as well as extensive leadership and service to the profession,” Herring says. “When I visited in fall 2015 with both Drs. Angle, I came away even more inspired and energized about the incredible opportunities in this area of research – and so pleased to have their generous support.”
Learn more about supporting the Gillings School at sph.unc.edu/gift/make-a-gift or by calling (919) 966-0198.
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.