Sheila Leatherman named first Gillings Visiting Professor

September 24, 2007
Photograph of Sheila Leatherman

Photograph of Sheila Leatherman

Sheila Leatherman has been named the first Gillings Visiting Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health. The professorship is part of Carolina Public Health Solutions, a program established in the School through a generous gift from Dennis and Joan Gillings.

Ms. Leatherman, a research professor in the School’s Department of Health Policy and Administration, has professional experience that stretches across the breadth of public health and health policy. Currently she is reviewing the impact of the Labour Government reforms on health care quality in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). For her work over the past decade with the NHS, she was named an Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

“Professor Leatherman is known internationally for the quality of her work on complex public health issues,” said Peggy Leatt, PhD, chair of the School’s Health Policy and Administration Department. “She is one of the world’s leaders in improving the policies that guide the way we operate and administer health care – in both developed and developing countries. Sheila’s strong research skills and experience, coupled with her documented ability to translate the research into practice, is a model of public health leadership.”

As a research professor, Ms Leatherman spends much of her time as a visiting professor or visiting scholar, evaluating and analyzing health care systems and issues throughout the world. The Gillings Visiting Professorship will provide the means for her to focus a portion of UNC’s public health research on microcredit and its impact on global health.

Microcredit is a strategy for advancing small loans – as little as $100 or less – to individuals in order to reduce poverty and foster self-sufficiency. Leatherman is working on how to use the microcredit organizations worldwide to create predictable access to health education and health care services to improve the health and well-being of the recipients, their families and their communities. Her microcredit work will be the subject of a Dean’s Lecture she is presenting at the School on Monday, Sept. 24, 2007, 4 p.m., in the Rosenau Hall auditorium.

Ms. Leatherman is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine where she serves on the Global Health Board, a trustee of the board of the American Refugee Committee, and a member of the executive board of the International Society of Quality.

Dennis Gillings, a Commander of the British Empire, was a professor in the UNC School of Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics from 1971 to 1988. While at the School, he and others applied the latest methodologies to analyze clinical trial data for pharmaceutical companies and others. He incorporated Quintiles in 1982. Quintiles Transnational, based in Research Triangle Park, is now the world’s leading pharmaceutical services company, with annual revenues of $2 billion. Joan Gillings, who was a School of Public Health staff member while Dennis was a professor, sits on several boards of universities both here in the United States and abroad, including the Vice Chair of the Board of Visitors of UNC – Wilmington. She also is recognized for her leadership in a number of volunteer organizations, both in Chapel Hill and Wilmington, N.C.

For more on the Gillings’ gift to the School of Public Health, please see or

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School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or