Lytle to lead health behavior department

May 25, 2012
After an extensive national search, a new chair has been selected to lead the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, subject to approval by the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees and other appropriate University officials.
Dr. Leslie Lytle

Dr. Leslie Lytle

Leslie A. Lytle, PhD, professor of epidemiology and community health in the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, will chair the department, beginning early fall. Pending other approvals, she also would hold a joint professorship in the School’s nutrition department.

The department also will have a new name — Health Behavior — effective July 1.

Lytle received a bachelor’s degree in medical dietetics from Pennsylvania State University and is a registered dietitian. She earned a master’s degree in education (Purdue University) and doctoral degree in health education and health behavior (University of Michigan), completing postdoctoral training in cardiovascular health behavior in University of Minnesota’s epidemiology division.

Her research interests include planning and evaluating eating behavior change interventions in children, youth health promotion research, childhood obesity prevention, and theories of health behavior.Lytle has been principal investigator on several large National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies including CATCH, TEENS, TAAG, TREC IDEA and ECHO, and has participated in four multi-centered school-based studies.
Currently, she serves as principal investigator on “Targeted Approaches for Weight Control for Young Adults” and is co-investigator for the NIH study, “Improving Informed Consent to Reduce Racial Disparities in Living Donor Outcomes.”Lytle serves on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Health Promotion and the Society for Behavioral Medicine and is author of more than 180 peer-reviewed articles.

In 2009, she was nominated for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation List of Most Influential Obesity Researchers.

“Although there were many strong candidates,” said Dianne Ward, EdD, professor of nutrition and chair of the selection committee, “Dr. Lytle captured the committee’s attention based on her outstanding leadership in the field of health behavior research, her dedication to mentoring students, staff and faculty, and her excellent scholarship. Dr. Lytle’s style – warm, communicative, with a touch of humor and a strong commitment to public health – made her the right person for this position.”

“Dr. Lytle is an impressive researcher and teacher,” said Dean Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, “and I am confident she will be a superb leader and colleague for an outstanding department and for the School. She will lead an extraordinary department to become even more collaborative, visionary and cutting-edge.”


UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Linda Kastleman, communications editor, (919) 966-8317 or