September 01, 2004
CHAPEL HILL — Two University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health programs recently received funding allocations to help the state’s public health professionals enhance skills in responding to possible health threats.The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has renewed funding for the N.C. Center for Public Health Preparedness. That $5.6 million will enable the center, part of the School of Public Health’s N.C. Institute for Public Health, expand its educational programming for public health professionals.

Also, the institute, which directs health-oriented training initiatives, has been allocated $1.1 million from the N.C. General Assembly to coordinate development of public health incubators. These incubators will be partnerships among local health districts and public health stakeholders to establish and enhance essential health services.

The N.C. Center for Public Health Preparedness’ grant renewal is for five years.

“We are proud to receive renewed funding from CDC for our mission of preparing the public health work force to respond to threats of terrorism, infectious diseases and other public health emergencies,” said Dr. Pia MacDonald, the center’s director and a research assistant professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health.

“We expect to continue making significant contributions to the national effort over the next five years.”

The N.C. Center for Public Health Preparedness, which was formed in 2000 to improve the skills of front-line public health professionals, offers more than 100 free online training courses to prepare health officials for emergencies. Topics include surveillance, public health law and forensic epidemiology.

The center also created the Public Health Workforce Development System, an online program that allows public health professionals to assess their personal preparedness needs. In addition, the center coordinates Team Epi-Aid, UNC health sciences students who travel the state helping health departments respond to health threats.

Established in 1999, the N.C. Institute for Public Health links the School of Public Health with professionals in the field. Its planned public health incubator program is designed to promote learning collaboration and centralization of resources essential to member local health districts.

The incubators represent a unique opportunity to strengthen public health infrastructure from the ground level, said Dr. Ed Baker, the institute’s director.

“Just as it is said that all politics is a local endeavor, this initiative is designed to be a local initiative to solve local problems. The results will be received with interest and anticipation not only throughout North Carolina but also across the nation.”

Key N.C. legislative supporters of the incubator program included Rep. Jeffrey L. Barnhart, representing Cabarrus County; Sen. Robert Lee Holloman, representing Gates, Halifax, Hertford, Northampton, Vance and Warren counties; and Sen. Fletcher L. Hartsell Jr., representing Cabarrus and Rowan counties.

The N.C. Institute for Public Health directs numerous training programs and conferences, and it provides consulting services to local health departments and other health organizations. The institute joins academia and the field in the latest public health initiatives, such as genomics, homeland security and community design to combat obesity.

More information on the institute is available by visiting



N.C. Institute for Public Health contact: Bev Holt, (919) 966-6274 or

For further information please contact Emily Smith either by phone at 919.966.8498 or by email at


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