Santana inducted into The Bahia Academy of Medicine

August 13, 2021

Dr. Vilma Santana

Dr. Vilma Santana

In late May, Vilma S. Santana, MD, PhD, alumna of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, was inducted into the Academia de Medicine da Bahia (Bahia Academy of Medicine). This honor recognizes her dedication to a career of education, research and forming partnerships to advance public health globally.

“For me, being inducted into the Bahia Academy of Medicine is an honorable recognition of my career, my continued engagement in medicine, its practice and science in public health that places a high value on effort towards the common good,” she said.

The Bahia Academy of Medicine was founded in 1958 in Salvador, the capital of the Brazilian State of Bahia, with the aim of maintaining the principles and values of science, and its members swear to uphold them into perpetuity.

The Academy supports and promotes a high standard of medical education and research. It honors leading figures of medicine; encourages conferences, training and consulting on issues of interest to the medical community; and supports scientific research conducted in the state of Bahia. Aroldo Bacellar, MD, PhD, chairperson of neurology at the Hospital Sao Rafael in Salvador and fellow member of the Academy, recommended Santana’s application to be a member of the Academy.

Santana is a faculty member at the Institute of Collective Health (ISC), previously at the School of Medicine, Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), where she received a Doctor of Medicine degree in 1974. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the UNC Gillings Department of Epidemiology in 1994.

Vilma Santana with Gary Grant and Steve Wing

Vilma Santana with Gary Grant and Steve Wing

“I came to the UNC School of Public Health with many expectations of high standards in scientific learning, but I found more than that,” said Santana. “The experience gave me a wider and deeper insight into my field of interest, changing mental health for workers’ health, while building a deeper understanding of my Black culture roots and sense of pride in my hometown and country.”

Upon returning home, she supported students and faculty members from the ISC and the School of Medicine, Department of Preventive Medicine, and other occupational health institutions, such as FUNDACENTRO. She, along with Gillings School faculty members Dana Loomis, PhD, and the late Dr. Steve Wing, launched the Bahia-Carolina Program in Environmental and Occupational Health, a North-South partnership for workplace and environmental justice funded by Fogarty Foundation and NIH from 1996 to 2001.

This collaboration fostered ties between the Gillings School and UFBA, and Santana and others helped faculty members and students at both institutions study and attend conferences at the partner institution, allowing them to share experiences and knowledge that contributed to effective occupational and environmental research, knowledge, practice and public policies.

Read more about Dr. Santana and the Bahia-Carolina partnership.


Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at

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