Matthews honored with lifetime achievement in public health law

January 16, 2020

Dr. Gene Matthews

Dr. Gene Matthews

Gene Matthews, JD, is a senior investigator with the North Carolina Institute for Public Health (NCIPH) at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. At the November 2019 annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), he was recognized by the APHA Law Section with a Lifetime Achievement in Public Health Law award.

“At this turbulent moment, it is vital that those in public health remain determined to take the daily steps necessary to improve the lives of all persons in our communities,” Matthews shared.

As a senior investigator with NCIPH, Matthews conducts research and provides technical assistance to public health practitioners on a variety of legal topics. He also led a national public/private partnership initiative, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, to develop common legal preparedness agendas regarding liability laws during emergencies.

Matthews currently serves as director of the Southeastern Regional Center of the Network for Public Health Law, which provides legal assistance on a variety of public health topics and enables practitioners, lawyers and policymakers to apply the law to pressing public health issues. In addition, he teaches a course on health law and ethics at the Gillings School.

From 1979 to 2004, Matthews worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, serving for many years as the chief legal advisor in the Office of General Counsel.

Dr. Gene Matthews (left) holds his award.

Dr. Gene Matthews (left) holds his award.

Over the past two decades, he has provided leadership for the founding and development of the modern public health law movement. He is widely published and is frequently called upon to lecture on cutting-edge legal issues such as transforming public health messaging to facilitate law and policy changes, creating a transdisciplinary process for public health improvements and identifying future trends in public health leadership.

“Gene has had an enormous impact on the field of public health law in North Carolina and beyond,” said Doug Urland, MPA, director of NCIPH. “He has the unique ability to connect with people and translate complex information and material so that everyone can understand and apply it effectively in public health practice. All of us at the NCIPH are thrilled that Gene has been recognized for his numerous and lasting contributions to public health!”

Contact the Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at

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