October 8, 2018

Read more at sph.unc.edu/news. These are representative samples from news, awards, grants and publications that took place between May and September 2018.


Department KeyRecognition

Micaela Acomb and Nisha Vashist (HPM) and Anna Leonard (HB) were selected as 2018 Winston Policy Scholars.

Brian Castrucci, MA, doctoral student in HPM’s executive leadership (DrPH) program, was appointed chief executive officer of the de Beaumont Foundation, which aims to improve the capacity of local and state health departments.

Elizabeth Christenson, ESE doctoral student, was awarded a Boren Fellowship to study critical languages abroad.


Alex Gertner, HPM doctoral student, led a study that found policy changes increased access to naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses. The article, co-authored by Marisa Domino, PhD, HPM professor, and others, was published June 22 in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Jennifer Spencer, MSPH, doctoral student in HPM, is lead author of an article, published May 30 in Health Sciences Research, which explores increasing disparity in mortality rates between urban and rural counties in the U.S.



Clare Barrington, PhD, HB associate professor, and a team of HIV/AIDS researchers, won the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations’ 2018 Robert Carr Research Award. Barrington’s project, set in Guatemala, was the first study to document the process of creating a community-based clinic for pre-exposure prophylaxis for gay men in Central America.

Greg Characklis, PhD, Philip C. Singer Distinguished Professor of ESE and director of UNC’s Center on Financial Risk in Environmental Systems, won the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Environment and Water Resources Institute’s Service to the Profession Award in June.

Stephen Cole, PhD, EPID professor, received the Excellence in Education Award from the Society for Epidemiologic Research. “My mission,” Cole said, “is to be courageous and kind, to make better decisions (which requires me to learn) and to improve human life (which drives me to teach).”

Sian Curtis, PhD, associate professor of MCH and senior evaluation specialist at MEASURE Evaluation, coauthored, “How does integrating HIV and TB services affect health outcomes for HIV-TB co-infected patients in Ukraine?” An abstract of the work won the International AIDS Society’s (IAS) TB/HIV Research Prize, presented July 27 at the IAS annual conference in Amsterdam.

Donald Holzworth, MS, executive in residence and adjunct professor of HPM, was named Triangle Global Health Consortium’s 2018 Global Health Champion for his careerlong commitment to the advancement of global health.

Leslie Lytle, PhD, professor of HB and NUTR, was inducted into the ‘Hall of Fame’ by Purdue University’s Department of Nutrition Science.

A study by Stephen Hursting, PhD, NUTR professor, was one of the most-cited papers of 2016 in all American Association for Cancer Research journals. Published in May 2016 in Cancer Prevention Research, the study is titled, “Obesity-association Alterations in Inflammation, Epigenetics and Mammary Tumor Growth Persist in Formerly Obese Mice.”

Til Stürmer, MD, PhD, Nancy A. Dreyer Distinguished Professor and chair of EPID, is co-author of a paper recently awarded an honorable mention for the Ronald D. Mann Best Paper Award for articles published in 2017 in Pharmicoepidemiology and Drug Safety. The paper, “The feasibility of using multiple databases to study rare outcomes: The potential effect of long-acting beta agonists with inhaled corticosteroid therapy on asthma mortality,” was coauthored by researchers from RTI Health Solutions, Harvard Medical School, GlaxoSmithKline and HealthCore Inc., and published online Dec. 21, 2016.

Glenn Walters, PhD, ESE research associate and director of the ESE Design Center, is teaching “Introduction to Design and Making” for the second time this fall. Innovate Carolina provides materials for the course, which aims to spark innovation and entrepreneurship in students by allowing them to explore digital fabrication (“making”) technologies.

Aaron Williams, MBA, adjunct professor of HPM and longtime executive at RTI International, was awarded “emeritus” status by RTI, in recognition of his long and distinguished career in public service. Williams was the 18th director of the Peace Corps (2009-2012), worked for 12 years with RTI in international program management, policy reform, government relations and communications (2002-2009, 2012-2018), and served 22 years as a foreign services officer (1976-1998).


Human and bat calciviruses may have descended from a common ancestor, indicating potential for bat viruses to cross species barriers and infect humans. So found a study, led by Jacob Kocher, PhD, postdoctoral research assistant in the lab of Ralph Baric, PhD, EPID professor, and published May 22 in mBio.

Jamie Bartram, PhD, Don and Jennifer Holzworth Distinguished Professor of ESE, and Clarissa Brocklehurst, MASc, adjunct professor at the Water Institute at UNC, coauthored a critique of the U.N.’s global goals for water and sanitation. The invited article was published April 26 in the inaugural issue of Nature’s new journal, NPJ Clean Water.

A study published May 29 in Annals of Behavioral Medicine shows that graphic picture warnings on cigarette packs change behavior because the images are upsetting and memorable. Co-authors, including Noel Brewer, PhD, professor; Kurt Ribisl, PhD, professor and chair; and Marcella Boynton, PhD, assistant professor, all in HB, found that smokers made attempts to quit because they wanted to avoid seeing the packs. Alumni Humberto Parada Jr., PhD, and Marissa G. Hall, PhD, and media and journalism professor Seth Noar, PhD, also are co-authors.


Mirek Styblo, PhD, NUTR professor, and Rebecca Fry, PhD, Carol Remmer Angle Distinguished Professor of ESE, were awarded more than $2.2 million by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study diabetes associated with exposure to arsenic, a common contaminant in food and drinking water.

Allison Aiello, PhD, EPID professor, received a five-year, $3.5 million National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities grant to investigate the influence of psychosocial experiences upon people’s cardiometabolic and mental health.

Dr. Rebecca Fry and Michael O’Shea, MD, MPH, C. Richard Morris Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics in the UNC School of Medicine, were awarded more than $20 million by NIH to continue the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program.

Alexander Keil, PhD, assistant professor of EPID, and Dr. Rebecca Fry are principal investigators for a new $1.4 million NIH award to assess the impact of environmental exposure to metals found in well water upon birth defects.



Three alumni were appointed to deanships. Paul Erwin, MD, MPH, DrPH, was selected as dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Public Health; Edith Parker, DrPH, was named to lead the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa; and DuBois Bowman, PhD, is the new dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.

Fred Hargett, alumnus and member of the Gillings School’s Public Health Foundation Board, was named as a “CFO to know” by Becker’s Healthcare. Hargett is chief financial officer for Novant Health.

School News

Students study in Armfield Atrium.Recognition

In June, HPM was among the first departments in the U.S. to achieve membership in the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) Mentorship Circle.

The North Carolina General Assembly awarded the N.C. Policy Collaboratory more than $5 million as part of the state’s 2018-2019 budget. The funding will support baseline water quality testing for a set of chemicals classified as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including GenX, a potentially toxic industrial compound detected in the Cape Fear River. The Gillings School will manage the study, and Jason Surratt, PhD, ESE professor, serves as lead investigator. The Collaboratory will award grants to more than 20 researchers at North Carolina universities to conduct the testing and begin work on related research projects.

UNC-Chapel Hill’s new Creativity Hubs initiative awarded two competitive research awards to Gillings School faculty for innovations in the study of obesity and water. Penny Gordon-Larsen, PhD, NUTR professor and associate dean for research, will lead a group, including 14 other Gillings School researchers, to examine why people with the same diet experience weight gain and loss differently. Orlando Coronell, PhD, associate professor, Cass Miller, PhD, Okun Distinguished Professor, and Jill Stewart, PhD, associate professor, all of ESE, will develop new filters that make water purification more energy-efficient and affordable.

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