Wilcox, Foshee receive School of Public Health alumni awards

March 30, 2006
The Carolina School of Public Health’s distinguished alumni awards were presented Wednesday, March 29, during activities surrounding the 2006 Fred T. Foard Jr. Memorial Lecture.Two awards were presented at the lecture. Allen J. Wilcox, MD, PhD ’79, MPH ’76, Senior Investigator in the Epidemiology Branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), is the 2006 recipient of the Harriet Hylton Barr Distinguished Alumnus Award, the School’s single highest alumni honor. In addition, Vangie Foshee, PhD ’89, MPH, Assistant Professor in the department of health behavior and health education, received the Bernard G. Greenberg Alumni Endowment Award.

Barr Award

Established in 1975, the Barr Award recognizes the achievements of alumni and their contributions to public health. For many years, the award has carried the name of its 1980 recipient — Harriet Hylton Barr — to honor her contributions to the field, which continue to this day. The Barr Award recognizes leadership, experimentation, collaboration and innovation within the profession; impact within the practice arena; and outstanding service beyond the requirements of the recipient’s employment.

Dr. Wilcox’s leadership as president of the three major epidemiologic societies (Society for Pediatric Epidemiologic Research, Society for Epidemiologic Research and the American Epidemiological Society, and also having served as epidemiology branch head at NIEHS has influenced not only generations of researchers, but also the research direction and national policy of reproductive health care in the United States and the in the world. He is a universally recognized distinguished leader within the broader epidemiology community.

Dr. Michel Ibrahim, former Dean of our School and professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public health chaired Dr. Wilcox’s dissertation committee. In his letter of support, he wrote “his dissertation was creative and addressed an important topic in reproductive epidemiology, using new research methods and measurements of outcome. Allen nurtured the field of reproductive epidemiology; in fact, he actually pioneered its creation and further expansion.”

Fellow alumna Dr. Annie McNeill writes, “as editor-in-chief of the journal, Epidemiology, Allen’s work has enabled him to test different policies and procedures to expand the role of public health in the larger scientific community.”

Dr. Wilcox’s research interests span the range of reproductive and perinatal epidemiology, with studies on fertility, pregnancy loss, fetal growth and birth defects. He is currently carrying out an investigation of genetic and environmental causes of facial clefts, based on a large case-control study conducted in Norway.

Among his community activities, Dr. Wilcox helped to found Durham Central Park, Inc. a non-profit organization for the development of a public park in downtown Durham. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Durham Central Park, Downtown Durham Inc. and the Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern. He lives in Durham with his wife, Claire, a radiologist at UNC.

Greenberg Award

Dr. Foshee, who holds a PhD degree from the School’s department of health behavior and health education, has made multiple and far-reaching contributions to research, teaching and service in the field of adolescent problem behaviors. She joined the School’s faculty in 1998.

Dr. Foshee’s most remarkable achievement come in the form of two research-based intervention studies she has been pursuing for over ten years: Safe Dates, a school and community-based adolescent dating violence prevention program; and Family Matters, a family-based adolescent substance abuse prevention program.

As one nominator put it, “to be able to design, develop, implement and evaluate over time not just one, but two, such exceptional programs strongly underscores Dr. Foshee’s outstanding abilities as a scholar and researcher AND as a practitioner whose work has made (and continues to make) a significant impact on the public’s health.”

She is widely recognized nationally as the foremost scholar of dating violence etiology, program design and evaluation. Safe Dates has been identified as a model program by the US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS). More than 700 public school systems and agencies nation and worldwide have requested copies of the Safe Dates curriculum. Likewise, Family Matters has also been designated a model program by US DHHS.

The Greenberg Award was established by the School of Public Health Alumni Association to honor Dr. Bernard G. Greenberg, founder and chair of the department of biostatistics from 1949 to 1972 and dean of the School from 1972 to 1982. The first award was presented in 1986 to Dr. Norman Weatherly, professor of parasitology and laboratory practice.

The Greenberg Award is given annually to an outstanding full-time faculty member for excellence in the areas of teaching, research and service. Special consideration is given to candidates who have ‘seamlessly integrated’ these areas of focus. A major criterion is continuous demonstrated excellence over a number of years in service to the broader public health community. The award carries with it a cash prize of $11,000/year for three years.

The Greenberg Award committee was comprised of members of the Alumni Association and current faculty.

For more information about these awards, visit the alumni section of the School’s Web site.

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For further information please contact Ramona DuBose either by phone at 919-966-7467 or by e-mail at ramona_dubose@unc.edu.