Health Behavior Faculty News and Updates

Faculty News and Updates

The Department of Health Behavior posts faculty news and updates on our website as they happen and distributes a compilation as a component of our e-newsletter.

August 28, 2018

Dr. Deborah Tate

Dr. Deborah Tate

Debora Tate, PhD, professor of nutrition and health behavior, is  the recipient of the 2018 George A. Bray Founders Award, in recognition of significant contributions that advance the scientific or clinical basis for understanding or treating obesity and for extensive involvement with The Obesity Society.

Other award recipients from the Gillings School are Barry Popkin, PhD, W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor, who was selected for the 2018 Atkinson-Stern Award for Distinguished Public Service, which recognizes an individual or organization whose work has significantly improved the lives of those affected by obesity, whether through research, public policy, patient care or other means; and June Stevens, PhD, American Institute for Cancer Research/World Cancer Research Fund (AICR/WCRF) Distinguished Professor of nutrition and epidemiology, who received the 2018 Friends of Albert (Mickey) Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is given in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the field of obesity through scholarship, mentorship and education.

“It is truly remarkable to have not one, not two, but three TOS major awardees from one department! This speaks to our department’s incredible depth of expertise,” effused Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of nutrition and medicine and chair of nutrition at the Gillings School. “Barry, June and Deb are remarkable scientists, having contributed tremendously toward tackling the pressing public health problem of obesity in our own community and around the globe.”

July 26, 2018

Dr. Derrick Matthews

We are delighted to welcome our newest faculty member, Derrick Matthews, PhD, assistant professor, who earned a doctorate in health behavior here at UNC in 2013 and a Master’s of  Public Health degree at the University of Michigan.

He has spent the last several years building an impressive research portfolio while serving as a postdoctoral scholar and then assistant professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh. His expertise as a researcher, teacher and scholar combined with his passion for public health will make him a great asset to the department.

Matthews’ research explores how social determinants of health facilitate the large disparities in HIV prevention and treatment experienced by black men who have sex with men (MSM).

His focus is on engaging black MSM communities in all stages of the research process, from descriptive epidemiology to intervention development. He also explores the numerous health inequities experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations. His work in this area currently focuses on thoughtful ways to operationalize intersectional discrimination and its effects on health in quantitative research.

It is great to have Derrick back at Carolina, and to expand faculty expertise in the areas of health disparities in HIV prevention and LGBT health.

July 2, 2018

Dr. James Herrington

A collaboration between researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, RTI International and the UNC School of Medicine has resulted in the first study to assess and compare United States travelers’ knowledge levels about the Zika virus across three regions: at-risk states, other states and Puerto Rico.

“Zika virus is a truly unique agent of disease,” said study co-author James Herrington, PhD, professor of health behavior and executive director of emerging partnerships at the Gillings School. “It can be transmitted to humans through the bite of female mosquito vectors Aedes agypti and Aedes albopictus – species common in the warmer U.S. latitudes. Our goal with this study was to understand whether the knowledge levels, perceptions of personal risk and intentions to practice prevention behaviors differed among travelers living in Puerto Rico, states affected by or at-risk for Zika, and other states outside the estimated range of the mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus.” Read more.

June 16, 2018

Dr. Melissa Gilkey

Dr. Melissa Gilkey

Parents ranked cancer prevention as the most compelling reason healthcare providers can give for recommending the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, according to a survey led by researchers in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health.

The findings, published June 14 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, offer guidance as to what doctors and other healthcare providers should emphasize to parents when discussing vaccination for their children against HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that can cause oral, head and neck, genital and cervical cancers.

“Parents confirmed the advice from the CDC and other professional organizations, which is that cancer prevention is the most important reason for HPV vaccination,” said Melissa B. Gilkey, PhD, assistant professor of health behavior in the Gillings School and a member of UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Providers report giving a wide variety of reasons to vaccinate, but this study suggests that what parents really want to hear about is cancer prevention. This was true even for parents who had relatively low confidence in adolescent vaccination.” Read more

June 2018

Dr. Clare Barrington

Dr. Clare Barrington

Central America’s first study to critically document the process of creating a community-based clinic for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for gay men has been selected to receive the 2018 Robert Carr Research Award.

The project, Expanding the Options: A case study of collective action to create a community-based pre-exposure prophylaxis clinic for MSM in Guatemala City, was a collaborative endeavor between Guatemala-based Colectivo Amigos contra el Sida (CAS) and Gillings School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in the United States. The study followed the establishment of the first PrEP clinic in the region and how operators assessed and attempted to mitigate barriers to gay men’s access to this emergent HIV prevention method. This project represents a highly successful collaboration between researchers and communities, which worked together on all aspects of the design, implementation and analysis.

Clare Barrington, PhD, professor of health behavior, who led the UNC research team, was clear:

This research was not possible without CAS! Without the initiative and determination on the part of CAS to raise awareness about PrEP and create a PrEP clinic, we would not have had a story to explore. This is truly a community-based initiative and our research has aimed to capture and assess the context, process and outcomes of that initiative. The fact that CAS values the role of research within the work they do was a critical factor in enabling us to develop and carry out this collaborative project.”

Cesar Galindo-Arandi, director of CAS and Barrington will deliver the 2018 Robert Carr Memorial Lecture on July 24 at 3 p.m. at AIDS 2018.


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