Injury Epidemiology Research


Epidemiologists working in the area of injury and violence prevention conduct research describing injury hazards, identifying risk factors for injury and violence, and quantifying the effect of various interventions designed to prevent injury and violence. From a public health perspective, injury and violence is a major problem. However, it has received limited attention from epidemiologists. The scope of injury and violence control is broad, encompassing such diverse areas as:

  • Suicide
  • Homicide
  • Youth violence
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Firearm violence
  • Workplace violence
  • School violence
  • Injury and violence as a global health concern
  • Transportation safety (including occupant and pedestrian safety, roadway design, policies involving alcohol while driving)
  • Older adult falls
  • Occupational injury (including youth labor issues)
  • Sports and recreation injuries
  • Chronic and overuse (or, musculoskeletal) injuries

Students in the Injury Epidemiology Program receive training in how to conduct high-quality epidemiologic research that directly addresses prevention opportunities. Furthermore, they learn how to engage with non-epidemiologists (ranging from policy makers to community advocates) to address interventions that (based on the best available scientific knowledge) will prevent injuries and violence. These experiences are gained through interdisciplinary opportunities in courses taught in the Schools of Public Health, Medicine, and Social Work, and in the Departments of Health Behavior, Maternal and Child Health, Exercise and Sport Science, City and Regional Planning, and Public Policy, as well as through graduate research assistant opportunities with faculty in the Department of Epidemiology and UNC research centers, including the Injury Prevention Research Center, Center for Retired Athletes, Center for Highway Traffic Safety, Center for Regional and Urban Planning, and Thurston Bowles Arthritis Center.

Injury Research Projects

Injury epidemiology research:

The Department has conducted many injury epidemiology studies in the State of North Carolina, in the United States and in several other countries. Projects led by faculty often employ doctoral students to work on them where a variety of study designs and methodologies are developed. The following is a selection of recent or current studies conducted by faculty and students at the department of Epidemiology.

Projects led by faculty:

  • Epidemiology of Jump-Landing Movements and ACL Injury ( link to study)
  • Translation of a Robbery and Violence Prevention Program to High Risk Businesses ( link to study)
  • Pedestrian Injuries and the Built Environment in Colombia ( link to study)


Project led by graduate student:

  • Evaluation of graduated driver licensing programs and deaths among young drivers ( link to study)

Primary Appointments in Epidemiology:

Steve Marshall

Stephen W. Marshall , PhD, Professor and Director UNC Injury Prevention Research Center, Program Co-Leader
Research Areas:

  • Sports and Recreational Injuries
  • Injury Surveillance
  • Falls, Violence, and Transportation
  • Epidemiologic methods
  • Evaluation of Injury Interventions

Carri Casteel

Carri Casteel , Ph.D, M.P.H., Research Associate Professor, Program Co-Leader
Research Areas:

  • Occupational Violence
  • Falls in Older Adults
  • Home Safety

David Richardson

David Richardson , Ph.D, Associate Professor
Research Areas:

  • Occupational Health

Charles Poole

Charles Poole , Ph.D, Associate Professor
Research Areas:

  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Meta-Analysis

Til Stürmer

Til Stürmer , M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D, Professor and Director, UNC Center for Pharmacoepidemiology
Research Areas:

  • Medications and injury prevention
  • Epidemiologic Methods

Collaborating Faculty:

Kevin Guskiewicz

Kevin M. Guskiewicz , Ph.D, A.T.C., Kenan Distinguished Professor, Director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center and Chair Department of Exercise and Sport Science
Research Interests:

  • Concussion / mild Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Neuro-epidemiology

Anna Waller

Anna Waller , Sc.D., Research Associate Professor in Emergency Medicine
Director of the Carolina Center for Health Informatics in the UNC Department of Emergency Medicine
Research Interests:

  • Use of emergency department visit, poison control center and EMS run data for public health surveillance
  • Data quality control issues for injury surveillance
  • Public health preparedness and response
  • Health inequalities
  • Epidemiology methods

Sue Blalock

Sue Blalock , Ph.D, Associate Professor, Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy, Eshelman School of Pharmacy
Research Interests:

  • Health outcomes assessment
  • Fall injuries
  • Risk communication
  • Psychosocial aspects of chronic illness
  • Patient decision-making and adherence to therapeutic regimens

Daniel Rodríguezrodriguez

Daniel Rodríguez , Ph.D, Associate Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning, Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Director, Carolina Transportation Program
Research Interests:

  • Transportation injuries
  • Built Environment

Robert D. Foss

Robert D. Foss , Ph.D, Senior Research Scientist and Director, Center for the Study of Young Drivers at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center.
Research Interests:

  • Alcohol and transportation injuries
  • Teenage drivers and injuries

Hester Lipscomb

Hester J. Lipscomb , Ph.D, M.P.H., Adjunct Associate Professor
Professor, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Duke University Medical Center
Research Interests:

  • Occupational Injuries

Kristen Kucera

Kristen L. Kucera , Ph.D, A.T.C., Assistant Professor
Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Duke University Medical Center
Research Interests:

  • Work-related musculoskeletal disorders and exposure assessment
  • Sports injury epidemiology
  • Surveillance of sports and occupational injuries
  • Epidemiologic methods

Vilma Sousa Santana

Vilma Sousa Santana , M.D., Ph.D, Adjunct Professor
Professor, Program of Environmental and Workers’ Health, Institute of Collective Health, Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil
Research Interests:

  • Occupational Injuries

Allan Dellapenna

Alan J. Dellapenna Jr. , R.S., M.P.H., Head, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, Division of Public Health, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Research Interests:

  • Transportation related injuries
  • Injury and Violence Prevention Policy
  • American Indian & Alaska Native Injury Prevention

Scott Proescholdbell

Scott K. Proescholdbell , M.P.H., Head, Injury Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit,
Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, Division of Public Health, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services 
Research Interests:

  • Injury Surveillance
  • Violence Prevention
  • Evaluation of Interventions
Current injury post-docs and students in the Department are listed below:

Yvonne Golightly , PT, PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow, Thurston Arthritis Research Center

  • PhD, Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2010)
  • MS, Human Movement Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2005)
  • BS, Physical Therapy, The Ohio State University (1998)
  • Research Experience:
    • Postdoctoral Fellow (September 2010 – present): Arthritis Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Award; Thurston Arthritis Research Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; Supervisor: Joanne M. Jordan, MD, MPH
    • Graduate Student Trainee (August 2006 – August 2010): National Institutes of Health Arthritis and Immunology Training Grant, T32 – AR07416, Thurston Arthritis Research Center; University of North Carolina, NC; Mentor: Joanne M. Jordan, MD, MPH
    • Research Physical Therapist/ Research Assistant (March 2003 – August 2010): Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Durham, NC
  • Research Interests:
    • Joint Injury and osteoarthritis
    • Biomechanics of the lower extremity
    • Limb length inequality
    • Foot pain and disorders
    • Biomechanical and biochemical markers of osteoarthritis

Catherine Vladutiu , MPH

  • PhD Student
  • MPH, Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology, University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry (2003)
  • BA, Health & Society, University of Rochester (2002)
  • Research Experience:
  • Research Interests:
    • Violence prevention
    • Child and adolescent injury prevention
    • Occupational violence
    • Reproductive and perinatal epidemiology

Steven Lippman , BS

  • MSPH Student
  • BS, Cornell University, College of Human Ecology (1999)
  • Research Experience:
    • Research Assistant 2003-2006, at Harvard Injury Control Research Center (HICRC) and Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center (HYVPC)
    • Website development, UNC Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC)
    • GIS
    • Firearm control epidemiology
  • Research Interests:
    • Occupational injury, general injury prevention
  • Grants/Awards:
    • Occupational Epidemiology Training Grant

Laura Sandt , MRP

  • PhD Student, Department of Epidemiology
  • MRP, Transportation and Land Use, Department of City and Regional Planning, University of North Carolina (2006)
  • BA, English, Texas A&M University (2003)
  • Research Experience:
    • Research Associate (July 2006 – present): UNC Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC)
    • Graduate Research Assistant (July 2004 – July 2006): UNC Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC)
    • Research Assistant (July 2002 – July 2004): Texas Transportation Institute (TTI)
  • Research Interests:
    • Traffic safety and injury prevention, particularly among vulnerable road users
    • Physical activity and active transportation
    • Relationship between the built environment and health and safety outcomes
    • Injury prevention intervention design and evaluation

Ashley Schoenfisch , MSPH

  • PhD Student
  • MSPH, Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University (2005)
  • BS, Biology; BA, Economics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2002)
  • Research Experience:
    • Research Analyst (January 2006 – present): Duke University Medical Center, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
    • Epidemiology Research Assistant (October 2003 – December 2005): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases
  • Research Interests:
    • Injury epidemiology
    • Intervention evaluation
    • Occupational epidemiology
    • Qualitative research methods
    • Surveillance

Karen Roos , MS

  • PhD Student
  • Prior Qualifications/Degrees
    • Master of Science in Physical Therapy from University of Miami
    • BS in Athletic Training from University of Michigan
    • Certified Athletic Trainer
  • Research Experience:
    • Physical therapist / athletic trainer at the University of California, Irvine.
    • Clinical experience as physical therapist in outpatient orthopedic settings
  • Research Interests:
    • Overuse injuries in adolescents
    • Single sport versus multi sport injuries

Zachary Kerr , MPH

  • PhD Student
  • MPH: Epidemiology: The Ohio State University
  • MA: Journalism and Communication: The Ohio State University
  • BA: Communication/Spanish: The University of Washington
  • Research Experience:
    • Nationwide Children’s Hospital Center for Injury Research and Policy; 2009-2010
  • Research Interests:
    • Sports injury
    • Injury prevention in physical activity across the lifespan

Nadya Belenky , BA

  • MSPH/PhD Student
  • BA, Psychology: Stanford University
  • Research Experience:
    • Mood and Anxiety Disorders Lab
    • Research analyst at a health economics and social policy firm
    • Assisting NC Division of Public Health with dissemination of information from the NC Violent Death Reporting System data
  • Research Interests:
    • Psychological stressors and related injury, as well as traumatic brain injury
    • Differences in violent death in rural vs. non-rural settings
    • Gendered violence

Jennifer Jones , MPH

  • PhD Student
  • MPH, Epidemiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham (2011)
  • BS, Biology, University of Georgia (2008)
  • Research Experience:
    • Research Assistant (May 2010-May 2011) UAB Injury Prevention Research Center, Translational Research for Injury Prevention Laboratory
    • Laboratory Research Assistant (August 2008- May 2009) Georgia Tech Research Institute
  • Research interests:
    • Translational Research
    • Distracted Driving
    • Older Adult Falls

Apostolos Alexandridis , MPH

  • PhD Student
  • MPH, Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Oregon Health & Science University (2011)
  • BA, Neuroscience, Oberlin College
  • Research Experience:
  • Research Interests:
    • Forensic Epidemiology
    • Automotive injuries
    • Violence in prisons

Jared W. Parrish , MS

  • PhD Student
  • MS, Public Health, University of Hawaii at Manoa (2006)
  • BS, Community Health Sciences, Brigham Young University (2003)
  • Research Experience:
    • Research Assistant (August 2011 – present): UNC Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC)
    • Evaluator (June 2011 – present): Providence Alaska Medical Center – The Period of PURPLE crying project
    • MCH Epidemiologist, Surveillance of Child Abuse and Neglect, Director (2009 – 2011): Alaska Division of Public Health
    • CDC Public Health Prevention Service, Fellow (2006 – 2009)
  • Research Interests:
    • Child Maltreatment Prevention
    • Sports Related Injuries
    • Adolescent Injury prevention

Katherine J. Harmon , MPH

  • PhD student
  • MPH: Joint concentration in Environmental and Occupational Health and Epidemiology, Saint Louis University
  • BS: Environmental Health Sciences, The University of Georgia
  • Research Experience:
    • CDC/CSTE Applied Epidemiology Fellow, Chronic Disease and Injury Section, North Carolina Division of Public Health
    • Graduate research assistant, Environmental and Occupational Health Department, Saint Louis University
    • Laboratory assistant, Urban Entomology Department, The University of Georgia
  • Research Interests:
    • Unintentional poisoning and substance abuse epidemiology
    • Violence among intimate partners
    • Environmental and occupational epidemiology
Alumni of the Injury Epidemiology program take positions in the academic, governmental and private sectors. Current positions held by alumni include:
  • Associate Professor, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Duke University
  • Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Principal Associate Director, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, CDC
  • Associate Professor, Department of Public Health Education, UNC-Greensboro
  • Assistant Professor, Medical University of South Carolina
  • Epidemiologist, Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute
  • Assistant Professor, Vanderbilt University
  • Assistant Professor, University of Utah
  • Epidemiologist, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC
  • Research Analyst, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
  • Assistant Professor, University of Memphis
  • Assistant Research Professor, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Duke University
  • Assistant Professor, University of West Virginia
  • Epidemiologist, Epidemiology International
  • Research Assistant Professor, University of New Mexico
  • Post-doctoral Fellow, Thurston Arthritis Research Center, UNC-Chapel Hill
The overall goal of the program in injury epidemiology is to develop epidemiologists who further the science of injury control and are capable of conducting research and translating research findings into action to prevent injuries .

Abilities and Knowledge:
Injury epidemiologists graduating from the program with a PhD will have these abilities :

  • Superb command of the principles of epidemiologic methods and data analysis
  • Ability to design and conduct epidemiologic studies in injury research
  • Ability to collaborate and communicate with other scientists and clinicians in diverse areas, such as, but not limited to, biomechanics, industrial hygiene, ergonomics, and trauma care
  • Ability to read and critically interpret the scientific literature
  • Ability to assess and integrate scientific information from diverse sources
  • Ability to communicate complex epidemiologic concepts, methods, and findings, to non-epidemiologists and non-scientists in simple, clear, and accurate language
  • Ability to develop & implement injury interventions, and to design studies to evaluate interventions
  • Ability to use research findings to prevent injury through collaborations with policy makers, advocacy groups, and others

Injury epidemiologists graduating from the program with a PhD will possess these key knowledge items:

  • Understand the importance of injury, and specific areas within injury, from a public health perspective
  • Understand basic concepts in injury prevention, such as the Haddon matrix, and the difference between active and passive intervention
  • Understand the use of multiple epidemiological study designs to assess risk factors for injury in diverse injury topics
  • Understand the use of epidemiologic studies to quantify the effectiveness of interventions
  • Understand the application of surveillance techniques to injury surveillance
  • Understand the global nature of the injury problem in diverse countries
  • Understand the multidisciplinary and multifactorial nature of injuries


Prior to graduation with a PhD, students are required to complete these courses:

  • EPID 783 “Injury and Violence as Public Health Problems” (3 credit-hours)
  • EPID 690 “Intervention Epidemiology” (2 credit-hours)


Students are required to attend all meetings of the injury student seminar/journal club . There are two meetings per month during the Fall and Spring semesters (there are no meetings over the summer). Each session is 1 hour long. These injury seminars/journal club meetings provide an excellent opportunity for student-student and student-faculty engagement. All students will attend injury student seminars/journal club unless some compelling reason prevents attendance. If a student is unable to attend, s/he should notify one of the Program Leaders. Students are encouraged to present original research and recommend journal articles for discussion. Doctoral candidate Catherine Vladutiu ( co-ordinates the seminar series.

Additionally, students are strongly encouraged to attend the public seminars sponsored by the Department of Epidemiology, the Injury Prevention Research Center, and the Highway Safety Research Center.

Research Skills:

Students will become involved in research early in their graduate career. Students are expected to take the initiative in setting up meetings with their faculty advisors, and with other researchers engaged in injury research. Engagement with the faculty on faculty research projects is a fundamental and very important means for students to develop research skills.

Students should also proactively seek out opportunities to develop their own independent research. They are strongly encouraged to solicit the input of faculty advisers in developing their independent research areas. Faculty can provide assistance with brainstorming ideas, refining research questions, advising on methods and data analysis tools, and accessing existing databases. Faculty will actively promote and assist students in developing research ideas and conducting research, however, the impetus and commitment to developing, conducting, and publishing research needs to come from the student.

Program Leadership:

The Injury Program has two co-leaders:


Students are encouraged to engage with the Injury Prevention Research Center, the Highway Safety Research Center, and other resources on campus. A wide range of researchers in the School and elsewhere at UNC conduct or facilitate research related to injuries, including (but not limited to):

  • North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
  • UNC School of Medicine
    • Department of Emergency Medicine
      • North Carolina Disease Event Tracking and Epidemiologic Collection Tool (NC DETECT)
    • Department of Surgery
      • Division of Trauma and Critical Care Surgery
    • Department of Orthopaedics
    • Department of Allied Health Sciences
      • Physical Therapy
      • Human Movement Science
      • Interdisciplinary Human Movement Science Lab
    • Thurston Arthritis Research Center
  • UNC College of Arts and Sciences
    • Department of Exercise and Sport Science
      • Sports Medicine Research Laboratory
      • Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center
      • Center for the Study of Retired Athletes
    • Department of City and Regional Planning
  • UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
    • Department of Maternal and Child Health
    • Department of Health Behavior
  • UNC School of Pharmacy

North Carolina off-campus resources include:

  • North Carolina Injury and Violence Prevention Branch in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Resources, Division of Public Health, Chronic Disease and Injury Section
  • Duke University
    • School of Medicine
      • Department of Community and Family Medicine, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
      • Duke Sports Medicine Center
    • Sanford School of Public Policy

Students are also encouraged to engage with local and national groups in the community interested in injury control. These can include:

  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving
  • KidsNCars
  • SafeKids
  • North Carolinians Against Gun Violence

Students are also encouraged to attend the annual meeting of, and join, professional societies such as:

  • Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research
  • Society for Epidemiologic Research
  • American Public Health Association – Injury Control and Emergency Health Services Section
  • American College of Epidemiology

Our Friends at UNC:

UNC Department of Epidemiology – home!

The UNC Injury Prevention Research Center has hosted many of the studies conducted by faculty in the Department of Epidemiology

The UNC Highway Safety Research Center has over forty years of experience in highway safety research

North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner – one of the best Death Investigation systems in the USA

The UNC Sport Medicine Research Lab conducts epidemiologic studies of sports injury

Links to colleagues at locations other than UNC:

We enjoy a warm working relationship with Drs. Dement, Lipscomb, and Kucera at Duke University Occupational and Environmental Medicine

We also work with colleagues at Duke Sports Medicine

We also work with colleagues at the Michael W. Krzyzewski Human Performance Research Laboratory at Duke Medical Center

The State of North Carolina Health Department’s Injury and Violence Prevention Section conducts the North Carolina Violent Death Reporting System and conducts research in collaboration with faculty in the Department of Epidemiology

General injury prevention links:

Two of the best injury meta-sites are Injury Prevention Web ( and the Injury Control Resource Information Network (

Many of studies have been funded by the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control ( and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Heath (

WHO has a strong commitment to global injury prevention

Notable professional societies in the field are SAVIR (Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research – and the American Public Health Association’s Injury Control and Emergency Health Section (

Finally, here are links to three journals specializing in injury prevention and control research:

Injury Prevention Journal:

Accident Analysis and Prevention:

International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion: