Innovating better health for all

Funding for the Gillings Innovation Labs was generously provided by the Gillings Gift in 2007.

Since 2007, the Gillings Innovation Labs (GILs) have transformed the Gillings School, putting us on the map for pioneering work in clinical trials, brain health, new methods and more GILs are innovative, interdisciplinary, and strive to achieve fundamental breakthroughs in public health.

Stay Tuned

We expect to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Round 7 of the Gillings Innovation Labs by the end of 2019.

GILs Highlights

$91.5+ million

Follow-on research funding received

161

New scholarly publications

203

Students trained or funded

A few success stories.

Promoting weight loss with a (very) smart app

  • Drs. Deborah Tate, Carmina Valle and Brooke Nezami created a weight loss app that sends four daily messages, their feedback tailored to the real-time data entered by study participants. Pilot testing showed that participants who viewed more messages were more likely to weigh themselves and stay active, less likely to consume high calorie foods, and more likely to achieve significant weight loss after 12 weeks.

Establishing a laboratory for causal inference research

  • Drs. Stephen Cole and Michael Hudgens are part of a collaborative effort that secured $12M in Gates Foundation funding. They established a Causal Inference Research Laboratory, marking UNC as a preeminent academic institution in the study of this field. The team adapted the causal inference theory to accommodate sparse-data, created prototype software and are applying their approach to the study of HIV treatments

Managing diabetes in China with the Pink Panther

  • Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen collaborated with UNC’s School of Medicine and global partners in China, India and Australia to gain insight into the management of obesity and diabetes in international clinic contexts. Her team’s final product was a cultural adaptation of the well-known Pink Panther book — often called “the Bible for Type 1 diabetes management” — which will be widely disseminated in China.

What Makes A Successful Gillings Innovation Laboratory Program Proposal?

Get insights for your proposal.

Accelerating Translation Of Discoveries

One of the primary goals of Gillings Innovation Labs is to accelerate the translation of public health discoveries and knowledge into practice. To facilitate this process, we encourage use of open-source technologies that permit broadest access to methods and results across geographic, disciplinary and other boundaries. We also encourage GIL participants to share tools and disseminate project findings widely and through a variety of mediums.

Collaborating Across Disciplines

Gillings Innovation Labs engage interdisciplinary teams, train future public health leaders, and encourage connections among academic scholars, communities, governments, and organizations committed to preventing and solving public health threats. Proposals that aim to build linkages between community and clinical settings are especially encouraged.

Implementation Science

Gillings Innovation Labs should endeavor to expedite solutions to public health challenges through effective implementation and dissemination of interventions in high-impact settings. For more information, see Implementation Science.

Global And Local Focus

Challenges to public health occur at local, state, regional, national and international levels. Solutions to challenges at any of those levels may be proposed, as well as solutions to challenges that cross the barriers of geography, environment, culture, income, and education, or solutions that have benefits that extend beyond the populations in which they are initially demonstrated.

Training The Next Generation of Public Health Leaders

We encourage proposals that include participation and engagement of UNC students and trainees.

A Sustainable Approach

Gillings Innovation Labs are well-suited for projects that are early-stage and higher-risk and are consequently less competitive for common funding mechanisms. GIL awards are intended to kick-start initial support for a promising area of public health research or an innovative public health solution, and should facilitate awardees’ ability to acquire additional funding after the GIL award period has ended.

Awarded Gillings Innovation Labs

From active school-wide call for proposals; funded by the Gillings Gift

Round 6 (2018 - 2019)

Development of Osmotic Ballasts to Enable Saltwater-based Energy Storage
Orlando Coronell, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator
Wei You, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator

Environmental Influences on Early Brain Development
Stephanie Engel, PhD, Principal Investigator

Improving Diabetic Eye Disease Screening and Management Through a Novel Integrated Care Approach
Emily Gower, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator
Seema Garg, MD, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator

System Science to Improve State Planning on Opioid Addiction and Overdose
Stephen Marshall, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator
Kristen Hassmiller Lich, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator

Prenatal Treatment to Prevent Mother to Child Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus in the DRC: The Arresting Vertical Transmission of Hepatitis B (AVERT-HBV) Study
Steven Meshnick, MD, PhD, Principal Investigator

Round 5 (2017 - 2018)

Causal Inference Research Laboratory
Stephen Cole , PhD, Co-Principal Investigator
Michael Hudgens, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator


Transformative Use of Chitosan as a Coagulant-Flocculant and Filter Aid to Improve Drinking Water
Mark Sobsey, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator
Jamie Bartram, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator


Circulating MicroRNAs as Novel Biomarkers of Arsenic-Associated Diabetes
Miroslav Styblo, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator
Praveen Sethupathy, PhD (UNC Genetics), Co-Principal Investigator


Precision Public Health: Enhancing Connections to Develop Just-In-Time Adaptive Intervention Strategies
Deborah Tate, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator
Carmina Valle, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator

Round 4 (2016 - 2017)

Automated Monitoring, Managing, and Messaging for Peer Support in Diabetes Management
Edwin Fisher, PhD, Principal Investigator

Accelerating Transdisciplinary Collaborative Clinical Care Locally and Globally to Improve Diabetes Outcome
Penny Gordon-Larsen, PhD, Principal Investigator

Self-Collection to increase access to cervical cancer screening and reduce health disparities in Kenya
Jennifer Smith, PhD, Principal Investigator

Novel Tools to Track Land-Applied Biosolids
Jill R. Stewart, PhD, Principal Investigator
Michael D. Aitken, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator

Round 3 (2010 - 2012)

Staying One Step Ahead of Deadly Viruses Combating childhood diarrhea by designing "super antigens"
Ralph Baric, PhD, Principal Investigator
Eric Donaldson, PhD, Former Principal Investigator


Identifying Toxic Compounds "Body-on-a-Chip" offers an innovative alternative to traditional testing
Rebecca Fry, PhD, Principal Investigator

Microfinance and Health Pilot program seeks to reduce HIV risk and partner violence in young men
Suzanne Maman, PhD, Principal Investigator

Identifying Sources of Environmental Pollution Discovering where microbes originate can help to protect public health
Jill Stewart, PhD, Principal Investigator

Round 2 (2009 - 2011)

Removing Nitrogen, Recovering Energy from Hog Waste Managing swine waste is crucial for protecting air and water in NC
Mike Aitken, PhD, Principal Investigator

Innovative statistical approach to genetic association
Danyu Lin, PhD, and Fred Wright, PhD, Principal Investigators

Getting Safe, Effective Drugs to Those Who Need ThemPharmacoepidemiology evaluates drug benefits and harms
Til Stürmer, MD, MPH, Principal Investigator

A Seamless, Accessible, 21st-Century Global Classroom Tapping into the learning styles of "Millennials" can benefit public health education
William Zelman, PhD, Principal Investigator

Round 1 (2008 - 2010)

Linking Local, Sustainable Farming and Health Can "eating local" address obesity, the environment and economic viability?
Alice Ammerman, DrPH, Principal Investigator

Defeating Respiratory Disease in Children The search for an affordable, multivalent and stable vaccine
Ralph Baric, PhD, Principal Investigator

Mapping Tropical Disease: A Most Critical First StepLaboratory for molecular surveillance of tropical diseases opens in the Congo
Steve Meshnick, MD, PhD, Principal Investigator

Caring for the Mentally Ill in North Carolina A local challenge becomes research prototype
Joseph Morrissey, PhD, Principal Investigator

Managing Disease Through Linking Data Hospital and ambulance services may provide the missing link
David Richardson, PhD, Principal Investigator

Water-Testing for Contamination Goes PortableDetecting infectious disease at its source may save millions of lives
Mark Sobsey, PhD, Principal Investigator

Technology to Improve Understanding of Arsenic Some drinking water is shockingly high in contamination
Miroslav Styblo, PhD, Principal Investigator

Identifying Harmful Pollutants in City Air Worst pollutants often fly under the radar
William Vizuete, PhD, Principal Investigator

Solicited Awards

(very occasional, direct awards to address a pressing problem; funded by the Gillings Gift)

Innovative Clinical Trials Laboratory
Joseph Ibrahim, PhD, Principal Investigator
Funded: 2007

WaterSHED (Carolina Global Water Partnership)Partnership with USAID
Mark Sobsey, PhD, Principal Investigator
Funded: 2007

Comissioned Innovation Labs

(modeled after GILs; funded by nonprofits or other outside sponsors)

Going the "Last Mile" to Ensure Drinking Water SafetyUNC Water Institute Sponsored by IAMPO
Jamie Bartram, PhD, Principal Investigator
Funded: 2011

A Global Imperative: Healthy and Secure 0-2 Year OldsHigh-impact interventions can ensure the well-being of young children and their mothers Sponsored by ChildFund International
Peggy Bentley, PhD, Principal Investigator
Funded: 2010

Round 6 recipients of the Gillings Innovation Labs

Five teams of UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health researchers and their collaborators have been awarded new funding.

 

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