From the dean (Fall, 2015)
December 7, 2015
Our faculty, staff, students, alumni and partners are defining the future by what they are doing today.
They are making the world more accessible through mobile health technologies, empowering people to create through “makerspaces,” enabling big changes in health by scaling effective programs for implementation and helping to assure that healthy aging becomes a global reality. We must continue to fuel and implement solutions to the world’s biggest health threats and challenges – at even faster speed – a point Chancellor Carol Folt stressed in her 2015 University Day address (tinyurl.com/UNC-University- Day-Folt).
This issue highlights Gillings innovators in several areas. Glenn Walters, PhD, director of the Environmental Sciences and Engineering Design Center (sph.unc.edu/ese-design-center), and his team create instruments, devices and prototypes for researchers in the School and across campus. They save money by building solutions here rather than buying them elsewhere – and also create products that never have existed. Now, Glenn helps lead the University’s newest “makerspace” – a workshop where UNC students and members of the faculty and staff move from imagination to tangible products. This is innovation at its finest!
We also highlight our cutting-edge work in the growing field of mHealth, which includes research tools and the delivery of health care and interventions to improve health by way of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Epidemiology professor Allison Aiello, PhD, has harnessed mHealth to understand the spread of flu among college students, providing a fascinating picture of their lives in the process. Using mHealth to deliver individually tailored messages and create online communities is emerging as an important tool for HIV/AIDS prevention. In my role as chair for the President’s Cancer Panel, I’ve been immersed in the potential of mHealth to reduce the burden of cancer.
Innovation is a core part of our DNA at the Gillings School. Soon, we will fund another round of Gillings Innovation Laboratories, and recently, we hosted a lunch in our nutrition kitchen for members of the UNC Chancellor’s Innovation Summit.
In her 2015 University Day address, Chancellor Folt challenged us to increase the pace of innovation and our embrace of change. In her closing words, she connected to the Gillings School: From today forward, we will be working with renewed effort to bring the best of Carolina ‘from the Well to the world.’
There’s so much more in this issue, too, as befits a truly great School. Thanks to editor Linda Kastleman and all those who contribute to the magazine – and thanks to you, readers, for advice, generous gifts, other kinds of support and your loyalty to the School. I am so grateful to you all.
What an exciting time to be in public health – at the Gillings School and UNC-Chapel Hill!
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.