Dr. Kurt Ribisl

Dr. Kurt Ribisl

Welcome to the Department of Health Behavior!

We are a top destination for students earning the MPH degree. Students who enrolled in the MPH program for fall 2019 will earn the degree in 1 of 12 concentrations.

Our department is the home for three concentrations: health behavior, global health, and health equity, social justice and human rights. One of the strengths of these concentrations is that they are interdepartmental in focus and benefit from shared leadership from faculty across Gillings. Enrollment in these concentrations is strong with 33 incoming students in health behavior, 29 in global health and 17 in health equity.

The updated MPH curriculum includes 42 credits. As they complete the 12-credit MPH core, our students build a strong foundation in public health. Then they take 15 concentration credits and 9 elective credits, which they choose from a wide array of options. Students also complete a 3-credit practicum course and the 3-credit health behavior capstone course – the culminating experience for the health behavior concentration.

Doctoral students develop research skills working with world-class faculty members who together have a broad range of research interests. Faculty areas of excellence include cancer prevention, tobacco control, HIV, violence prevention, digital health and weight management.

Many of our students do innovative and practical work even before they graduate. For example, Karla Jimenez-Magdaleno, MPH MCRP 2019, completed photojournalistic/investigative work on eviction and health that is informing policy on eviction in Durham, N.C.

Some of our doctoral students secure fellowship or dissertation funding. In 2019, doctoral student Chunyan Li received a community engagement fellowship to support her work on sexual health in China, and Tainayah Thomas received support for her dissertation research on diabetes. Cristina Leos and Liz Chen won several competitive awards to support their entrepreneurial work on Real Talk, a sex education app for middle schoolers. Other doctoral students are able to secure funded teaching, research or graduate assistantships.

The department’s track record in securing research funding is excellent, and many of our students – doctoral and master’s – work shoulder-to-shoulder with faculty getting the critical experience and funding they need. During fiscal year 2018, health behavior faculty members were principal investigators on $15.1 M in grants from a diverse array of agencies including USAID, the National Cancer Institute and the Department of Justice.


Kurt Ribisl

Kurt M. Ribisl 
Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Behavior


May 20, 2019

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