Olshan named Hulka Distinguished Professor

March 17, 2014

Dr. Andy Olshan

Dr. Andy Olshan

Andrew Olshan, PhD, professor and chair of the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology, has been named the Barbara Sorenson Hulka Distinguished Professor of Cancer Epidemiology, effective March 1.

Olshan also has served in significant leadership roles at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Most recently, in 2012, he was named the center’s associate director for population sciences.

After receiving master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Washington, Olshan joined the UNC faculty in 1991 and became department chair in 2006.

“Andy is one of the nation’s leaders in cancer epidemiology and population sciences,” said Dean Barbara K. Rimer, who among others, nominated Olshan for the distinguished professorship.

“Over the years, he has made important contributions to understanding the causes of head and neck cancer, Wilms’ tumor,   neuroblastoma and several other cancers,” Rimer said. “Through his research, he has examined a variety of risk factors for these cancers, including genetic mutations, environmental factors such as pesticide exposure, hormones and fertility drugs, and roles of maternal and paternal factors, including alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Andy is recognized as well for his research on birth defects.”

The nomination praised Olshan’s outstanding reputation and leadership in serving the UNC public health school, the cancer center, the University and his profession. He has authored more than 260 peer-reviewed publications, has received continuous research funding since 1984 from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and serves as an active teacher and mentor to epidemiology graduate students.

The Hulka Distinguished Professorship came about through a generous gift from Barbara Hulka, PhD, Kenan Distinguished Professor Emeritus and former chair of UNC’s epidemiology department. The appointment previously was held by the late Robert Millikan, PhD, a renowned breast cancer expert.

“I am deeply honored to have received this special recognition,” Olshan said. “It means so much to me to hold a professorship named for Dr. Hulka, one of the leading figures in the history of cancer epidemiology and the UNC department chair who first hired me. I’m also humbled to be following my late friend and colleague, Dr. Millikan, who was the first recipient of the professorship.”

Olshan’s birth defects research is highlighted in the March issue of Endeavors, UNC’s magazine for research and creative activity.

Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu.