Infectious diseases are responsible for millions of deaths each year, especially in the developing world.  Our program has expertise in a variety of infectious diseases including those that are sexually transmitted diseases, air-borne and vector-borne.   There are two NIH training grants that support students.  We have close collaborations with the Division of Infectious Diseases in the School of Medicine, the Department of Geography, the Carolina Population Center, FHI, the North Carolina Department of Health, and many triangle-based research organizations.

Required Courses

  • Epid 751 (Fall, 3 credits): Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases
  • Epid 755 (Spring, 3 credits): Introduction to Infectious Disease Epidemiology
  • Epid 894 (Spring, 1 credit): Infectious Disease Epidemiology Journal Club

Elective Courses

  • Epid 753 (Fall, 3 credits) Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases at the Level of the Community
  • Epid 756 (Spring, 3 credits) Control of Infectious Diseases in Developing Countries
  • Epid 757 (Fall, 3 credits) Epidemiology of HIV/AIDS in Developing Countries
  • Epid 764 (Spring, 1-2 credits) Hospital Epidemiology
  • Epid 799 (Spring, 3 credits) Advanced Methods in Infectious Disease Epidemiology
  • Epid 799 (Spring, 2-3 credits) Vaccine epidemiology


(* indicates primary advisors for ID epidemiology PhD students)

Dr. Adaora A. Adimora  is Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Professor of Epidemiology. She serves as co-principal investigator for the UNC MACS/WIHS Combined Cohort Study and the UNC Study of Reproductive and Treatment Outcomes. She is also co-Director of the UNC Center for AIDS Research and Director of the UNC STI/HIV T32 Training Program. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. Her research focuses on the epidemiology of HIV and STIs among African Americans and has underscored the importance of macroeconomic and social forces in racial disparities in the US HIV epidemic.

Dr. Allison Aiello is a Professor of Epidemiology. Aiello’s research investigates socioeconomic and race/ethnic disparities in infectious diseases, the relationship between infection and chronic diseases, and prevention of respiratory infections in the community setting.

Dr. Ralph Baric, is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and a member of the Lineberger Cancer Center. Dr. Baric is an internationally recognized expert on noroviruses and SARS coronavirus. His group has been interested in aspects of host and viral genetics and how they relate to understanding pathogenesis and developing control tools. Baric’s research also focuses on identifying the molecular mechanisms governing emerging virus cross species transmission and pathogenesis in humans and identifying the viral and host determinants which influence susceptibility to infectious diseases. Dr. Baric is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science.

Dr. Sylvia Becker-Dreps* is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Family Medicine. She directs the UNC Program in Nicaragua and is Associate Director of the Office of Global Health Education in the UNC School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the epidemiology and prevention of childhood diarrhea and emerging infections, such as Zika and SARS-CoV-2. She has evaluated the impact of rotavirus immunization programs in Nicaragua and the United States and has conducted studies to understand why rotavirus vaccines have lower effectiveness in low-resource settings. She is now working to understand how infants develop immunity to norovirus and sapovirus, to inform future pediatric vaccine development.

Dr. Ross M. Boyce* is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine, as well as a Fellow in the Carolina Population Center. Dr. Boyce’s research focuses on the spatial and clinical epidemiology of malaria and other vector-borne diseases, particularly in rural, underserved communities. The driving force behind this work is the goal of developing and operationalizing evidence-based interventions to improve care delivery in resource-limited settings. More locally, Dr. Boyce leads a multi-disciplinary research collaboration, the Vector-Borne Disease Epidemiology, Ecology, and Response (VEER) Hub, focused on issues of tick- and mosquito-borne diseases endemic to North Carolina. The collaboration includes investigators from diverse fields including clinical medicine, epidemiology, immunology, entomology, geography, and veterinary science with partners at North Carolina State University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the NC Division of Public Health.

Dr. Myron Cohen, is Yeargan-Bate Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, Professor of Epidemiology, Director of the UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Global Health at UNC-Chapel Hill. Cohen’s research focuses on the transmission and prevention of transmission of HIV, with emphasis on the role played by STD co-infections. In 2005, Dr. Cohen received an NIH MERIT Award for ongoing support of this work. Much of his research has been conducted in resource-constrained countries, especially in Malawi and the People’s Republic of China. Cohen serves as the chair of the scientific advisory board of the China CIPRA at the  China CDC and as co-director of an NIH Ellison Fellowship Program at the National STD Center in Nanjing China.

Dr. Stephen Cole*, Professor of Epidemiology, is interested in study designs and analyses that accurately estimate parameters of central interest to population-health scientists, such as the risk. These study designs include randomized experiments, pseudoexperiments (i.e., observational studies), and thought-experiments (e.g., simulation studies). Substantively, Cole is interested in infectious diseases, primarily HIV, and cancer. He is principal investigator on a NIH-funded R01 to develop quantitative methods in HIV, co-founder of the UNC Causal Inference Research Group, chair of the CNICS epidemiology and biostatistics core, associate director of the UNC CFAR biostatistics core, and investigator on the UNC WIHS cohort site. He is also editor of the American Journal of Epidemiology, chartered member of the NIH AIDS and Clinical Epidemiology study section, and 2015 winner of the American College of Epidemiology Award for Outstanding Contributions to Epidemiology.

Dr. Bethany DiPrete is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology. Her research focuses on infectious disease dynamics, with an emphasis on SARS-CoV-2 and cholera. Specifically, her ongoing efforts include harnessing epidemiologic and molecular data to understand transmission dynamics, surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 variants in North Carolina, and improving methods for designing molecular surveillance and phylodynamic studies. Her other research interests include prescription opioid use and opioid-related harms using multiple large, linked data sources, with a focus on methods in causal inference.

Dr. Andrew Edmonds, an Associate Professor in the Department Epidemiology, has expertise in the use of observational cohort data, in concert with advanced methods, to answer high priority research questions. A co-investigator and the analytic director of the MACS/WIHS Combined Cohort Study at UNC, as well as the Central Africa regional representative for the International epidemiology Databases to Evaluate AIDS (IeDEA) Pediatric Working Group and the CIPHER Global Cohort Collaboration, he has two decades of experience researching adults and children living with or at risk for HIV in sub-Saharan Africa and in the United States. His areas of interest include the impacts of insurance and area-level factors on health outcomes, and evaluation of clinical and programmatic indicators among HIV-exposed infants.

Dr. Jess Edwards* is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on using quantitative epidemiologic methods to improve public health, particularly in the area of HIV. Substantively, she is interested in estimating effects of interventions along the HIV continuum of care using clinical data. Methodologically, she focuses on techniques for causal inference in settings with complex or high dimensional exposure plans, measurement error and missing data.

Dr. Michael Emch is W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Geography and Epidemiology. He is also a Fellow of the Carolina Population Center. His expertise is in infectious disease ecology, spatial epidemiology, neighborhood determinants of health, and geographic information science applications of public health. He leads the Spatial Health Research Group which conducts research that explores spatio-temporal patterns of disease, primarily infectious diseases of the developing world. He examines diverse topics such as the role of population-environment drivers in pathogen evolution, how social connectivity contributes to disease incidence, and using environmental indicators to predict disease outbreaks. For more information see the Spatial Health Research Group website at spatialhealth.web.unc.edu/.

Dr. Emily W. Gower Associate Professor of Epidemiology, focuses her research on improving surgical outcomes following treatment for chronic sequelae of infectious diseases. The majority of her work focuses on improving trichiasis surgery outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa. She is currently the principal investigator on a large NIH-sponsored clinical trial that is recruiting approximately 4,000 people in southern Ethiopia. The trial is examining outcomes from 2 surgical methods used to correct in-turned eyelashes. Dr. Gower works closely with the international trachoma community, and takes a lead role in guiding trichiasis surgery implementation and monitoring globally. She recently co-lead a World Health Organization (WHO) sponsored global meeting of trichiasis surgery experts focused on providing global recommendations for best practices. She has also co-chaired the trichiasis surgery outcomes group for the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC). Dr. Gower also has a keen interest in utilizing large databases to assess medical outcomes.

Dr. Rachel Graham is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology. She received her PhD in microbiology and immunology from Vanderbilt University in 2006. Dr. Graham’s research emphases include coronavirus replication fidelity, viral genome recombination, candidate live-attenuated vaccine design and phylogenetic and molecular analyses of coronavirus genomes as they emerge and adapt to novel hosts. Dr. Graham began actively studying coronaviruses just prior to the SARS-CoV epidemic in 2003.

Dr. Lisa Gralinski* is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology. She earned her PhD in microbiology and immunology from the University of Michigan in 2008. Dr. Gralinski’s research explores the interaction of highly pathogenic human coronaviruses with the host immune system. In particular, she is interested in how these interactions can lead to the resolution of virus infection or alternatively lead to virus-induced, immune-mediated disease. Dr. Gralinski also has worked to examine the role of host genetic variation in contributing to the severity of respiratory virus infection. Through these studies, she hopes to discover targets for antiviral and immune modulatory drugs that will lessen the burden of respiratory virus disease.

Dr. Jonathan Juliano is a Professor of Epidemiology and a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He is also a preceptor in UNC’s Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology. Since joining faculty in 2009, Dr. Juliano has worked extensively on the molecular epidemiology and spatial epidemiology of malaria in Africa and Asia. He conducts field studies in multiple African countries, including Malawi, Tanzania, the DRC and Cameroon, in order to understand how malaria adapts to control interventions, including antimalarial therapy and malaria vaccines.

Justin Lessler* is faculty in the Department of Epidemiology researching the dynamics and control of infectious disease, with particular interest in influenza, SARS-CoV-2, cholera and dengue. Justin works on the development and application of statistics, dynamic models and novel study designs to better understand and control infectious disease. In particular, he is interested in creating synergies between infection control practice, data collection and infectious disease dynamics. He is a cofounder of the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub and active in many other projects aimed at providing direct support in responding and controlling infectious diseases.

Dr. Sara Levintow, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, studies infectious disease dynamics in vulnerable populations, including those with mental health conditions, drug use, and involvement with the criminal legal system. Her research focuses on HIV and SARS-CoV-2. In those disease areas, she uses mathematical modeling and causal inference methods to improve understanding of the behavioral and biological determinants of transmission and to inform public health efforts that reduce morbidity and mortality. Her ongoing work aims to investigate SARS-CoV-2 transmission dynamics in North Carolina jails and evaluate interventions to reduce COVID-19 disease burden.

Dr. David Margolis is the Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Professor of Medicine, as well as a Professor of Epidemiology, and of Microbiology & Immunology. He is also the Director of the UNC HIV Cure Center, which is focused on finding a cure for HIV/AIDS. HIV eradication is a complex health challenge due to the long-lived persistence of the virus in the body, which hides in latently infected cells that are able to escape the body’s immune system. The HIV Cure Center research portfolio is focused on reactivation of the latent virus combined with clearance strategies to effectively purge the HIV reservoir to effect a cure for HIV. The HIV Cure Center has been at the forefront of HIV latency reactivation and clearance research for decades and Dr Margolis and his research team are recognized as the world’s experts and have made significant contributions to the field.

Dr. Sonia Napravnik, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine, works with the UNC Center for AIDS Research and the AIDS Clinical Trials Unit. Napravnik has primary expertise in the treatment and prevention of HIV-infection both domestically and internationally, including work in Ethiopia, Malawi, South Africa and Puerto Rico. Her ongoing research focuses on both intended and unintended effects of antiretroviral therapy especially drug resistance, improving HIV testing and medical care access, and applying newer epidemiologic methodologies to the study of HIV.

Dr. Brian Wells Pence*, Professor of Epidemiology, focuses on the links between mental health and HIV-related behaviors and health outcomes in the Southeastern US and in Africa. He is principal investigator (PI)  or co-PI on three current or recent NIH grants, including a randomized clinical trial to assess whether depression treatment integrated into HIV clinical care in the US improves HIV medication adherence; a study to define the epidemiology of depression among HIV patients in Cameroon and pilot-test a nurse-delivered depression treatment intervention; and a study to define the impact of antidepressant treatment on HIV outcomes among HIV patients in the CNICS network of 8 large clinical sites across the US. With Kathryn Whetten, he recently co-authored the second edition of You’re the First One I’ve Told: The Faces of HIV in the Deep South (Rutgers University Press, 2013). He oversees a T32 training grant for infectious diseases epidemiology students.

Dr. Audrey Pettifor*, Professor of Epidemiology, Assistant Chair of the Department of Epidemiology, and Fellow at the Carolina Population Center, is an epidemiologist whose research focuses on determinants of HIV/STI infection in sub-Saharan Africa with the goal of identifying modifiable risk factors and developing novel interventions to prevent new HIV infections—particularly in young women. Pettifor has expertise on sexual behavior, HIV prevention, HIV testing, and structural interventions among adolescents and young adults in sub-Saharan Africa and has published extensively in the area of HIV and sexual behavior among youth in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr Pettifor has worked in South Africa for close to 20 years and has also conducted research in Malawi, Madagascar, Kenya, Zimbabwe and the Demographic Republic of Congo. She is co-chair the HPTN adolescent science committee and has published over 80 articles in peer reviewed journals, primarily on HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. She serves on the editorial boards of  AIDS and Behavior and the Journal STD.

Dr. Kimberly Powers*, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, uses epidemiological, statistical, and mathematical modeling methods to study HIV transmission, with the overarching goal of informing HIV prevention strategies. Her work focuses on improving understanding of the behavioral and biological determinants of HIV transmission, developing efficient methods for detecting acute HIV infection, and using mathematical models to predict the impact of HIV transmission prevention strategies. Ongoing projects aim to inform measurement of HIV incidence and prevalence, as well as HIV treatment coverage and impact.

Dr. Alexandra Schaefer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology. She is interested in virus-host interactions, viral pathogenesis, viral immunity and the role of host genetics in viral infection during coronavirus (SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2) and filovirus (EBOV and MARV) infection. Dr. Schaefer’s research focuses on identifying quantitative trait loci, genes and alleles that regulate emerging viral pathogenesis and immunity using outbred mouse and human models, and the role of these loci in pathogenesis. A major goal is to identify and study common genes and polymorphisms that regulate emerging virus disease severity across species.

Dr. Timothy Sheahan* is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology focused on focused on understanding emerging viral diseases and developing new means to stop them. Dr. Sheahan’s group uses techniques rooted in both basic and translational sciences to elucidate mechanisms of viral pathogenesis and evaluate antiviral therapies. As an NIH funded investigator, this work accelerated the preclinical development of two antivirals currently in use to treat COVID-19. Current studies are focused on developing broadly acting antiviral therapies effective against coronaviruses we know about today as well as those that may emerge in the future.

Dr. Jennifer Smith*, Professor of Epidemiology has conducted research over the past 20 years  and has focused on epidemiological studies of infections and cancer. The focus of her research is on HPV infection and cervical cancer prevention worldwide via screening and prophylactic vaccines among women with limited access to care. She earned a doctorate degree  from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Smith is director of Cervical Cancer-Free Coalition and has published over 210 articles in international peer-reviewed journals, of which over 170 are related to HPV infection and HPV-associated diseases, in areas that include cervical, anal, vaginal, vulvar and penile cancers. She is a mentor for the Cancer Control Education Program and also for the Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholar program, an associate editor of Sexually Transmitted Infections and on the editorial board of Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

Dr. David Weber, Charles Addison and Elizabeth Ann Sanders Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology, Medicine, and Pediatrics, is an infectious disease epidemiologist who serves as Chair, IRB UNC-Chapel Hill, Associate Chief Medical Officer, UNC Medical Center (UNC-MC); Medical Director, Infection Prevention UNC-MC; and Medical Director, UNC Statewide Program in Infection Control and Epidemiology (SPICE). Dr. Weber is the UNC Principal Investigator on the CDC funding Duke/UNC Epicenter (year 12 of 15). He has published more than 500 publications cited in PubMed. Major research interests include preventing healthcare-associated infections; vaccine, especially vaccine for healthcare personnel (Dr. Weber is a member of several ACIP and CDC working groups); new and emerging infectious diseases (e.g., SARS-CoV-2, Ebola, Monkeypox, Candida auris, multidrug-resistant bacteria); Mycobacteria (Dr. Weber chairs the NC Dept. of Health TB Advisory Committee); and sterilization/disinfection.

Dr. Sharon Weir, Professor of Epidemiology, is a Fellow at the Carolina Population Center. Her focus is HIV surveillance and monitoring and evaluation of HIV prevention programs in developing countries for most at risk populations. She works with the MEASURE Evaluation Project at the Carolina Population Center as a senior advisor on key populations, leads the UNC team under the PEPFAR funded Linkages Project, and leads the UNC team under the Gates-funded Monitoring, Evaluation and Surveillance of HIV (MESH) Consortium.

Dr. Daniel Westreich*, Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, studies HIV and its intersection with reproductive health. This work has elucidated relationships between pregnancy and response to antiretroviral therapy, clarified methodology for studying the potential impact of hormonal contraception on acquisition of HIV. He is a co-principal investigator of the STAR Cohort of reproductive-age HIV-positive and -negative women. He also studies issues related to COVID-19, and the intersection of HIV and chronic disease. He also conducts studies on the intersection of HIV with other chronic conditions including lung disease and asthma; on COVID-19 and other infectious conditions; maternal and child health broadly; aging and dementia, and other topics. Methodologically, Dr. Westreich’s research focuses on methods in causal inference, and epidemiologic methods for implementation science. He is the author of Epidemiology By Design (Oxford 2019), a widely taught textbook of introductory epidemiologic methods explained from a causal perspective.



For general questions about the department, the degree program, or admissions, contact us via email at epidemiology@unc.edu or call us at (919) 966-7430. Questions about employment should be directed to (919) 966-7460.

Main Department Contacts

Academic Coordinators

Mailing Address
Department of Epidemiology
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
135 Dauer Drive
2101 McGavran-Greenberg Hall, CB #7435
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7435

Our offices are located on the second floor of McGavran-Greenberg Hall.