December 21, 2018

As the Gillings School of Global Public Health community prepares to launch into a new calendar year, many public health challenges remain, in our back yards and around the world. From climate change to social equity, from newborn health to adult health maintenance through nutrition and physical activity, our researchers continue to discover new ways to solve problems and disseminate their findings.

What news topics interested our readers in 2018? A look at our most-read articles suggests that our followers are interested, above all, in people’s stories and the good work they do.

photos of researchers in top 25 stories of 2018

(Row 1): Dr. Kauline Cipriani, Dr. Lisa LaVange, Dr. Tania Desrosiers, Dr. Carmen Samuel-Hodge, Catherine Sullivan; (Row 2): Dr. Shabbar Ranapurwala, Jeffrey Simms, Dr. Alison Stuebe, Dr. Barry Popkin; (Row 3): Dr. Alice Ammerman, Amanda Holliday, the late Dr. Steve Wing, Dr. Will Vizuete.

Dr. Lisa LaVange, for instance, after several years working at the Food and Drug Administration, returned to UNC to lead, among other things, the public health data science concentration in the Master of Public Health program (#6). Leaders at the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute won a $1.3 million grant to train lactation consultants at colleges serving communities of color (#7). Undergraduate superstar Frances Reuland found her way to a public health career through a research assistantship (#8).

Dr. Carmen Samuel-Hodge, Amanda Holliday and Jeffrey Simms won the School’s highest honors for teaching, mentoring and dedication to public health – the Larsh, Barr and Greenberg awards (#12). Dr. Kauline Cipriani was welcomed as the School’s assistant dean for inclusive excellence (#19). Drs. Noel Brewer, Ralph Baric, Hans Paerl and Barry Popkin were included on Clarivate Analytics’ most highly cited researchers list (#22).

Alumnus Diego Garza was selected for Triangle Business Journal’s Health Care Heroes award (#24), and the amazing health behavior graduate student duo of Liz Chen and Cristina Leos were included in November 2017 on the Forbes magazine ’30 under 30’ list (#25).

Despite his death in November 2016, many readers still revisit Dr. Steve Wing’s online obituary, remembering his countless contributions to environmental justice (#10).

News about the School was of interest, including our new partnership with 2U for online study (#5), an article about U.S. News and World Report rankings (#9), the launch of a new Institute for Environmental Health Solutions (#13) and the award of $232 million to MEASURE Evaluation, led by Dr. Jim Thomas – UNC’s highest-ever award (#14). Our news and events portal page was frequently viewed (#3).

As to articles that described research activity, Dr. Barry Popkin, in typical highly cited fashion, rated high for two news releases, both about the impact of taxes on sweetened beverages. One was in Berkeley (#15) and one in Mexico (#21).

Other popular research focused on important public health challenges and innovations in nutrition, maternal and child health, health behavior and the environment.

The articles described:

  • Carbohydrate intake and birth defects risk (#1),
  • Barber shops and beauty salons as effective health education venues (#2),
  • Childhood obesity (#4),
  • Risk for opioids misuse among people formerly incarcerated (#11),
  • A ‘Good Bowls’ project that makes fresh frozen vegetables accessible to vulnerable populations (#17),
  • A finding that graphic, disease-oriented photos on cigarette packs increase smokers’ quit attempts (#18),
  • News that Gillings School researchers led a revised opinion on pregnancy that establishes a “Fourth Trimester” of care for mothers (#20),
  • Ways that legal marijuana sales are damaging the environment (#23) and
  • An innovative sidecar bassinet that improves mother-infant bonding in the hospital (#25)

Here is the list of most-read articles in 2018:

1. UNC study links low carbohydrate intake to increased risk of birth defects (Jan. 25, 2018)

2. Literature review finds barber shops, beauty salons to be effective venues for promoting health education (July 7, 2014)

3. News and events: What’s new and what’s next (landing page for communications activities)

4. Fast food not the major cause of rising childhood obesity rates, study finds (Dec. 16, 2013)

5. Gillings School of Global Public Health partners with 2U to offer online graduate degrees in public health (June 14, 2017)

6. LaVange named associate chair of biostatistics and director of UNC Collaborative Studies Coordinating Center (Jan. 14, 2018)

7. CGBI awarded $1.3M grant to train lactation consultants at colleges serving communities of color (Feb. 26, 2018)

8. Frances Reuland: A research assistantship paves the way to a career in public health (April 22, 2018)

9. US News ranks UNC Gillings #2 overall, #1 public (March 10, 2015)

10. Steve Wing, beloved teacher and committed activist, dies at 64 (Nov. 10, 2016)

11. Former inmates at high risk for opioid overdose following prison release (July 19, 2018)

12. Holliday, Simms, Samuel-Hodge win Gillings School awards for teaching, mentoring, public health achievement (April 21, 2018)

13. UNC launches new Institute for Environmental Health Solutions (May 1, 2018)

14. MEASURE Evaluation project scores $232M for social science research, UNC’s largest-ever award (Jan. 24, 2018)

15. One year later: Berkeley’s ‘Soda Tax’ significantly reduced sales of sugary drinks (April 18, 2017)

16. Ammerman’s project, Good Bowls, offers recipe for health equity (June 15, 2018)

17. Pictures on cigarette packs, warning of smoking dangers, increased quit attempts among smokers (June 6, 2016)

18. New assistant dean for inclusive excellence selected (Dec. 18, 2017)

19. New paradigm adds a ‘fourth trimester’ to transform care for new mothers (May 31, 2018)

20. Sugar-sweetened beverage purchases declined in two years after Mexican ‘soda tax’ passed (Feb. 21, 2017)

21. Four UNC Gillings School researchers are among the world’s highly cited (March 2, 2018)

22. Legal marijuana sales creating escalating damage to the environment (Feb. 20, 2017)

23. Alumnus honored with Triangle Business Journal’s Health Care Hero Award (March 15, 2018)

24. Chen, Leos recognized as outstanding social entrepreneurs with Forbes ’30 under 30’ award (Nov. 15, 2017)

25. Tully hopes to serve mothers, infants with innovative new bassinet (March 28, 2018)


Contact the Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at

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