January 12, 2024

The UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health has appointed Kari North, PhD, as the associate dean for research, effective March 11.

Dr. Kari North

Dr. Kari North

North is a professor in the School’s Department of Epidemiology and has developed a strong multidisciplinary research program that evaluates the genetic epidemiology of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and associated risk factors. She is also a professor at the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences.

“I am thrilled to have Dr. North step into this role. She is an outstanding researcher and excellent leader in our community,” says Nancy Messonnier, MD, dean and Bryson Distinguished Professor in Public Health at Gillings. “I look forward to working alongside her, as her deep knowledge and many research contributions will meaningfully support the Gillings School and the larger University.”

North came to Carolina in 2002 as an assistant professor in the epidemiology department. Currently, she serves as director of the CVD Genetic Epidemiology Computational Laboratory, which is an assembly of faculty members spanning UNC departments who have collective expertise in both family- and population-based genetic epidemiological research.

North has more than 20 years of experience directing a continuously funded research program in molecular epidemiology, global public health and cardiometabolic disease science, as well as extensive experience in translational and collaborative global public health research.

She also serves as an editorial board member for multiple prominent journals, as a member of the CASE-EPIC Panel A study section, and in several elected leadership roles within The Obesity Society and the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology Council.

“I am eager to take on the challenge of leading the Gillings research enterprise and mentoring the next generation of talent at the School,” says North. “Throughout my career, I have fostered an environment conducive to sustained excellence, driven by the core belief that public health science has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of disease and improve the health of communities from the cellular level to society at large. I am eager to continue this journey as the new associate dean.”

Andrew Olshan

Dr. Andrew Olshan

The position previously was held by Andrew Olshan, PhD, Barbara Sorenson Hulka Distinguished Professor in Cancer Epidemiology, who served as the interim associate dean for research for a year and a half.

During Olshan’s time in the role, he co-chaired a Research Strategic Planning Task Force that will soon submit an ambitious draft plan for strengthening Gillings’ research infrastructure; improving pathways for research collaboration; providing key supports for global health, health equity and community engaged research; promoting an inclusive, supportive research environment, and both accelerating and communicating Schoolwide innovation and impact.

Olshan also championed Gillings’ research unit as team members expanded their capacity in research development and compliance, and he coalesced the School’s research strengths around mental health research and practice, climate change and generative AI.

“We are incredibly grateful for Dr. Olshan’s many contributions during his time as interim associate dean,” says Messonnier. “He has guided the School’s research and provided critical leadership in a time of transition. We’ll be seeing the fruits of his work for a long time to come.”

Upon assuming her new role, North will serve as the chief research officer for the Gillings School and as the School’s liaison to the UNC Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. She also will lead Gillings’ research mission, upholding compliance standards while driving advocacy, collaboration and strategic funding initiatives for the School and in support of the entire University.

Additionally, North will be the primary point person for overcoming research challenges and will strive to enhance the Gillings School’s overall research enterprise, including by helping to catalyze large research opportunities.

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

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