May 01, 2013

Gail H. Cassell, PhD, DSc (Hon.), and Ralph H. Cassell, MBA, are very proud of their daughter, Cynthia.

The Cassells (l-r), Gail, Ralph and Cynthia
The Cassells (l-r), Gail, Ralph and Cynthia

In 2007, Cynthia Cassell received a Doctor of Philosophy in maternal and child health, with a minor in epidemiology, from what is now the Gillings School of Global Public Health at The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Cynthia currently works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. She is a health services researcher and focuses on health service use, costs, access to care and outcomes of children with birth defects.

Recently, she won the American Public Health Association Maternal and Child Health Section’s 2012 Young Professional Award for her combination of professional and personal skills, experiences, accomplishments and future impact in the maternal and child health field. She currently serves as an adviser and supporter on the School’s Public Health Foundation Board.

Before Cynthia joined the CDC, the Cassells established the “Cynthia H. Cassell Doctoral Dissertation Award in Maternal and Child Health” to honor their daughter’s many accomplishments and help support other students pursuing doctoral degrees in maternal and child health.

Through their gift, they wanted particularly to honor the mentorship offered to their daughter by Anita Farel, DrPH, clinical professor, and Robert Meyer, PhD, adjunct professor, both in the Department of Maternal and Child Health. Cynthia previously worked under Meyer’s supervision with the North Carolina Birth Defects Monitoring Program, part of the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics within the North Carolina Division of Public Health.

“We are pleased to provide this award at such an excellent institution,” the Cassells say, “and hope in some small way that the gift will provide other maternal and child health doctoral students with opportunities they might not otherwise have had.”

Eli Lilly and Company, from which Gail recently retired after 13 years, matched the Cassells’ gift to double the impact of the couple’s generosity.

Cynthia says she is proud to call herself a Carolina public health school alumna. “Many rewarding opportunities were provided by my parents and outstanding mentors at Carolina, including Drs. Anita Farel, Robert Meyer, Bert Peterson, Jonathan Kotch, and Ron Strauss,” she says. “I was uplifted by their wisdom and continuous generosity. They are inspiring role models in public health, especially maternal and child health. With this award, we hope that other students will be as fortunate as I was to learn from these outstanding faculty members.”

–Linda Kastleman
In the photo above, the Cassells are pictured visiting with children at Socios En Salud and Caryabeyllo Cultural Center, in Lima, Peru, in April 2012. The family helped establish the Center in 2005 to address medical and social issues related to drug-resistant tuberculosis, which is common in the Caryabeyllo district of Lima.

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




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