Achieving Health Equity through Public Health and Policy across NC and around the World

Our researchers are working in all 100 North Carolina counties and in over 60 countries around the world to solve some of our most challenging issues. Simultaneously we identify solutions, such as quality education, good jobs, decent and affordable housing, safe neighborhoods and environments, clean water, nutritious foods and adequate healthcare, that can positively contribute to optimal health. Our researchers are conducting cutting edge research spanning reproductive health through the entire lifecycle to prevent disease, improve quality of life, and strengthen quality of care to better support health for all individuals, their caregivers, and the health systems in which they interact. We aim to create a culture of health in North Carolina, the United States and around the world that will encourage people to stay healthy throughout their lifetimes.

Lifecycle and Families

A major focus of our work at Gillings is improving the health of women, children, and families, both domestically and globally.

Health Equity

Inequities in disease and well-being come from discrimination, racism and unequal access to society’s benefits, including conditions that positively contribute to health. Our researchers seek to understand these inequities and address the structures that reinforce them to ensure that all individuals and populations have equitable access to resources for optimal health.

Healthy Aging

Our researchers seek to understand the process of aging and the health and well-being of older people.

Humanitarian Crises

At Gillings, we seek to understand and improve public health responses to rapid and emerging public health emergencies, such as natural and human-related disasters, epidemics, pandemics, armed conflicts, and other emergencies.

Preventing and Reducing Infectious and Chronic Diseases

Cancer, infectious and chronic diseases know no borders. Our researchers are working from fundamental and basic science research to translate these critical findings and apply them to prevent and reduce disease. We investigate the complex causes of diseases and identify and evaluate treatments and potential cures for these diseases. We also seek to understand broader impacts of diseases, such as quality of life and costs. Urbanization and environmental changes change the nature of exposures of the world’s population to cancer, infectious and chronic diseases, ranging from global increases in cancer and chronic diseases to outbreaks of old communicable diseases and emergence of new ones. Our researchers are conducting pathbreaking research to understand, prevent and manage all of these complex diseases. Whether we are working to develop methods to improve access to vaccination programs to protect children against illnesses, expand programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, or reduce burden from cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of global deaths, we are innovating to improve global public health. Our work moves from laboratories to communities, cities and countries on a scale that can change health around the world.

Vaccine Development, Hesitancy and Resilience

Using both basic and behavioral science, our researchers are developing strategies to respond to diseases that can be treated with vaccines.

Cardiovascular and Cardiometabolic Diseases

Our researchers investigate diverse factors ranging from genetic and molecular to social and behavioral to environmental factors so we can better prevent, manage, and treat these chronic diseases.

Infectious Diseases and Pandemics

We seek to protect the world’s population from outbreaks of old communicable diseases and emergence of new ones.

Cancer Discovery, Prevention, Detection and Survivorship

Our researchers address the complex set of diseases known as cancer from basic science discovery to the broader impacts of cancer, such as quality of life, costs, better treatments, and cures.

Improving Health from Molecules and Behaviors to Communities and Environments

The concept of “one health” – that the health of people, animals and the environment are interconnected is behind much of what we do at the Gillings School. We strive to innovate effective solutions to the world’s most pressing public health issues. Our researchers are leaders in understanding how to modify risk factors through lifestyle changes include unhealthy diet, tobacco and opioid use, physical inactivity, and harmful alcohol use. In addition, we are leading efforts to prevent intimate-partner and gender-based violence, lessen health inequities in underserved or marginalized populations, prevent injuries, improve access to quality health care and engage patients in obtaining the best care for themselves. We strive to understand the interface between people and the environment, and we are experts at understanding how measure toxic chemicals in air, water and soil and their impacts on public health.

Opioids, Alcohol and Substance Abuse and Tobacco

We work to reduce the risk of the abuse of opioids and other addictive substances.

Nutrition, Behavior and the Environment

For our researchers, health is an inexorably linked system requiring single and multi-level approaches to promote “one health”, featuring the interconnectedness of the health of people, animals, and the environment.

Air, Water and Climate Resilience

We seek environmental solutions to public health problems, including building public health resilience to climate and environmental change.

Tobacco, e-Cigarette and Vaping Use and Policy

We investigate population-level efforts to reduce the use of tobacco, e-cigarettes and vaping by promoting social, environmental, policy and system change.

Injury and Violence Prevention

Our researchers are working to reduce injury and violence through research and practice on causes, susceptible populations, and identifying promising interventions to reduce injury and violence.

Data Science, Design and Implementation

Data is a powerful tool that can accelerate improvements in public health. Gillings researchers use artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to answer questions about the clinical effectiveness of medications. We strive to improve real-time data collection and measurement, develop rigorous methodological techniques like causal inference, and make advances in genetics and genomics in fields, such as cancer and regenerative medicine. Timely adoption of proven solutions for the world’s great public health threats can save lives. Our goal is to get these solutions to people faster and more efficiently in order to save even more lives. To maintain and improve health, we work with governments to build the capacity of all the people and systems that provide prevention and treatment. We work to ensure that health systems deliver their services equitably to all.

Implementation and Improvement Science, Evaluation and Practice

We develop, study and evaluate methods to promote the adoption and integration of evidence-based practices, interventions, and policies into routine health care and public health settings.

Innovative Analytical and Intervention Methods

At Gillings, we seek to develop novel approaches to designing efficient and effective health and health care delivery systems.

Precision Health

Our researchers use data-driven approaches that customize healthcare for individuals and populations based on genetic, social, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Systems and Data Science

We use a variety of statistical analysis techniques to identify tailored prevention and treatment for individuals and populations.

Molecular, Genomic and Other Omics

Our researchers use novel laboratory techniques, such as genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics, to characterize and quantify biological risk factors, disease targets, and disease pathways to protect public health.

Innovative Health System Design

At Gillings, we seek to develop novel approaches to designing efficient and effective health and health care delivery systems.


135 Dauer Drive
104 Rosenau Hall, CB #7415
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7415
(919) 843-3945