July 1, 2019

Dr. Ralph Baric

Dr. Ralph Baric

Ralph S. Baric, PhD, a faculty member in the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been named William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of epidemiology. His appointment — one of seven granted across the University — was approved by the UNC Board of Trustees and is effective as of July 1, 2019.

Baric serves as professor in both the Gillings School’s Department of Epidemiology and the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology. His substantial research focuses on advancing knowledge about — and vaccines for — coronaviruses and emerging infections like Zika virus, spanning the spectrum from discovery to translation.

In 2017 and 2018, he was named to Clarivate Analytics’ Highly Cited Researchers list, which recognizes researchers from around the world who published the most widely cited papers in their field.

“Dr. Ralph Baric is truly an exceptional scientist with well-established national and international recognition for his groundbreaking research in emerging infections, virus pathogenesis, drug and vaccine development,” states the official award announcement from the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. “His research is highly influential and is of tremendous public health and biomedical significance. Dr. Baric has presented at numerous National Academy of Science meetings as well as various institutes under the National Institutes of Health organization. With more than thirty patents addressing critical advances in coronavirus research and other drug development, he has represented United States researchers at the Royal Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Sciences. By developing robust working relationships with industry leaders, Dr. Baric has become a world leader in the field of pathogenic human viruses and his research is now instrumental in the development of vaccines.”

Baric earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a doctoral degree in microbiology at North Carolina State University. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Southern California before joining the UNC faculty in 1986.

“Dr. Baric and his team are working on some of the greatest threats to the future of mankind and animals,” said Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor at the Gillings School. “Emerging infections know no boundaries and threaten us today in a way the world has never experienced. Whether it is the potential reemergence of the 1918 flu virus, the rapid threat of SARS, or new concerns like MERS, ZIKA and the virus we can only imagine, Ralph Baric is on the leading edge. He is the consummate translational scientist — collaborating with teams around the world, seeking to understand the basic science of how viruses operate and passionate about finding solutions, including effective vaccines. Dr. Baric is not just an amazing scientist; he is heroic!”

“This is a well-deserved recognition for Ralph’s exceptional career as a public health researcher and epidemiologist,” added Til Stürmer, MD, PhD, Nancy A. Dreyer Distinguished Professor and chair of the epidemiology department. “His work will help us to understand, prevent and cope with future pandemics.”

Several news stories from the Gillings School and broader University exemplify Dr. Baric’s work:

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