June 22, 2022

Nancy Messonnier, MD, an influential leader in public health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and, most recently, the executive director for Pandemic Prevention and Health Systems at the Skoll Foundation, has been appointed dean of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, effective Sept. 1. She is also the Bryson Distinguished Professor in Public Health and brings to Carolina more than 25 years of experience as a public health leader.

Messonnier began her public health career in 1995 at the CDC as an epidemic intelligence officer and went on to hold a number of posts within the organization, including first as deputy director and then as director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) from 2014-2021.

Her many accomplishments include leadership roles in developing and implementing a low-cost vaccine to prevent epidemic meningitis in Africa; in responding to the 2001 anthrax attacks; and in promoting vaccine confidence and addressing disparities in immunization coverage.

Messonnier led the CDC’s NCIRD response to what began as an unknown respiratory disease in China in late 2019 and evolved into the COVID-19 pandemic. She served as the CDC’s chief architect of the COVID-19 vaccine implementation program and helped to develop, evaluate and distribute vaccines across the United States.

While at the Skoll Foundation — a private foundation that invests in social entrepreneurs and other innovators who advance solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems — Messonnier helped lead efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and build a global response and preparedness system to prevent future pandemics.

She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Chicago School of Medicine. She completed her internal medicine residency training at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2021, she was inducted into the National Academy of Medicine.

Messonnier joins the Gillings School during an exciting time of success. The School is ranked the No. 1 public school of public health — and second overall — by U.S. News & World Report. The Gillings School has been ranked among the top schools and programs of public health since U.S. News first ranked public health schools in 1987.

Gillings also ranks No. 1 among public schools of public health in funding from the National Institutes of Health, and faculty members have received more than $1 billion in research funding since 2016. This funding supports groundbreaking research, education and practice across all 100 North Carolina counties, 47 countries and five continents.

Thanks to Dean Barbara K. Rimer for her incredible leadership during the last 17 years, which transformed UNC Gillings into one of the world’s leading schools of public health.

Thanks are also due to the members of the search committee chaired by William L. Roper, MD, a former UNC Gillings dean, as well as former CEO of UNC Health, vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the UNC School of Medicine. Serving as vice chair was Giselle Corbie, MD, Kenan Distinguished Professor in the departments of medicine and social medicine, director of the UNC Center for Health Equity Research and associate provost for UNC Rural.

The Gillings School welcomes Dr. Messonnier to Carolina!

Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at sphcomm@unc.edu.

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