HPDP celebrates Hunter's retirement

WandaHunter_1A beloved laugh will be missing from the halls of the UNC Center of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP).  Wanda Hunter, HPDP’s deputy director for research and operations, retired November 30.  The Center celebrated her career and service with a retirement celebration on that date at The Carolina Club.

During the celebration, Hunter was awarded with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honor given for service to the state of North Carolina. In addition to her professional service, Hunter has dedicated herself to her community by being active in the Orange County Democratic Party, Habitat for Humanity, and her church, United Church of Chapel Hill.

“My heart is full of gratitude,” Hunter said at the celebration. “I’m flooded with memories of all my jobs at UNC and overwhelmed by all the generosity shown by people here today.”

Hunter began her career at UNC Chapel Hill in 1980 at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, and has worked for the University in many different roles since then, including a social research associate position in the department of maternal and child health.  She was the assistant director for teaching and service at the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center from 2000-2004, when she left to become a public health consultant.

Hunter’s family, friends and colleagues attended the event, including one friend who had worked with Hunter at her first job.

“I remember how young and idealistic we were then,” Hunter said. “We thought we could change the world. I still think we can change the world.”

Alexandra Lightfoot, HPDP assistant director for community-based participatory research, welcomed party attendees and thanked Hunter for her service to the Center. Salli Benedict, a longtime HPDP researcher, also spoke about the exemplary leadership Hunter provided during her tenure. Both said what they would remember most about Hunter was her infectious laugh.

“When I asked our community advisory council to describe Wanda in just a few words, many talked about her wonderful laugh,” Benedict said.

Laughter combined with tears during the comments from both Lightfoot and Benedict, but HPDP Director Alice Ammerman offered a lighthearted poem she wrote that characterized Hunter’s tenure with the Center.  HPDP staff also presented Hunter with a memory photo book and donation to Sustainable Harvest, a group Hunter volunteered for last year.

Hunter reflected on her career and said she felt it was a perfect fit for her to join HPDP at the end of her time at UNC. After spending much of her time at HPDP collaborating with communities, she said she was looking forward to building relationships with new partners.

“I look forward to increased collaboration with Amelia and Isaac, my grandchildren, who have brought me such incredible joy,” she said with a trademark laugh.

HPDP welcomes CDC Prevention Specialist

The UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) is pleased to welcome its first Public Health Prevention Specialist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Melissa Cunningham will spend two years working with both HPDP and the Physical Activity and Nutrition (PAN) Branch in the NC Division of Public Health as part of the CDC Public Health Prevention Service Fellowship program. CDC Prevention Specialists are assigned to sites based on a rigorous selection process including a matching system designed to link the specialist’s interests with the goals and resources of the host institutions.  Cunningham will focus her fellowship on food access and local food systems, a special area of focus for HPDP and PAN.

“It is an honor to be chosen to host a CDC Prevention Specialist,” said Alice Ammerman, director of HPDP and professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Ammerman said that  out of 177 academic-public health partnerships that proposed fellowships for a Prevention Specialist, only 25  matched with a fellow.

Before coming to North Carolina, Melissa worked in the Physical Activity and Health Branch in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the CDC. Her main projects included creating the State Indicator Report of Physical Activity, 2010 and evaluating awareness and knowledge of the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines using HealthStyles, 2008 and 2009. She also worked in the Center for Global Health with the Sustainable Management Development Program. Her main activities there included supporting the first Regional Management for International Public Health Course held in Botswana where she was responsible for curriculum development and evaluation.

Prior to arriving at the CDC, Melissa completed her Dietetic Internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. She received her MS in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition and MPH from Tufts University and her bachelor’s degree from the College of Holy Cross.

She is originally from Massachusetts, enjoys traveling, adventure and is an avid runner.

“I’m very happy to be here and look forward to being a part of the great work that happens here at HPDP,” said Cunningham.

HPDP partner offers help for a locally sourced Thanksgiving menu

Do you know where your Thanksgiving turkey is coming from? A statewide effort to build North Carolina’s food economy can help identify resources to keep your Thanksgiving menu close to home.

The 10% Campaign, coordinated by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), encourages consumers to spend 10 percent of their existing food dollars on foods produced in North Carolina. The CEFS believes the campaign will create jobs, boost the viability of North Carolina farms and fisheries and promote healthy communities statewide.

Do you know where your Thanksgiving turkey is coming from? A statewide effort to build North Carolina’s food economy can help identify resources to keep your Thanksgiving menu close to home.

The 10% Campaign, coordinated by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), encourages consumers to spend 10 percent of their existing food dollars on foods produced in North Carolina. The CEFS believes the campaign will create jobs, boost the viability of North Carolina farms and fisheries and promote healthy communities statewide.

The UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) has made a pledge to join the 10% campaign for events held at the Center.  Staff are encouraged to use local ingredients for Center potlucks and to contract with caterers who use local foods for business meetings.  HPDP’s Tar Heel Guide to Restaurants and Caterers using Local Foods is a resource for identifying  businesses that have made a commitment to local and sustainable agriculture.

Several staff, including HPDP Director Alice Ammerman, have made individual commitments to the 10% campaign.

“It’s very easy to sign up on the website,” said Ammerman. “You get a weekly prompt to estimate the amount of your food budget you have spent on local food during the week and you can see the dollar figures on the website grow showing statewide purchases of local food.

The 10% Campaign website includes a guide to where to find local foods, including statewide and regional resources, as well as links to listings of local farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture programs.

Many farmers’ markets in the Chapel Hill area will host special pre-Thanksgiving markets Tuesday. The Carrboro, South Estes and Eno River Farmers’ Markets will all be open on Tuesday afternoon.  The South Estes Market, located near University Mall, will have recipe books from local chefs compiled by the 10% campaign.

CEFS is a partnership between NC State University, NC A&T State University and the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  HPDP partners with CEFS on the Quick Chef project and Ammerman serves on the Local and Sustainable Foods Advisory Council, a new legislative-appointed body that will advise state government on ways to build upon and strengthen North Carolina’s local food system.

Innovative study seeks to reconnect youth with farming

Warren County youth prepare soilRural African-American teens face a future with high rates of chronic disease. Combined with limited opportunities for job growth and health care, these factors lead youth to grasp the first opportunity to leave their hometowns and seek employment elsewhere, often landing in low-paying,  low-skill service jobs.  A new study at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention seeks to help engage youth in overcoming these challenges by creating entrepreneurial opportunities through rebuilding local food systems.

 

Rural African-American teens face a future with high rates of chronic disease. Combined with limited opportunities for job growth and health care, these factors lead youth to grasp the first opportunity to leave their hometowns and seek employment elsewhere, often landing in low-paying,  low-skill service jobs.  A new study at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention seeks to help engage youth in overcoming these challenges by creating entrepreneurial opportunities through rebuilding local food systems.

The Faith, Farming, and the Future project, recently funded by the National Institutes of Health, will work with four churches in rural Warren County, located in northeastern North Carolina, to form youth action teams to identify critical challenges and opportunities in the local food and agriculture system. Business leaders and youth empowerment experts will coach these teams to develop innovative solutions to  improve healthy food access and physical activity through entrepreneurial efforts. The 2-year project will receive approximately $400,000 to conduct the research.

“We hope that this project will help to identify ways to re-build the local food system through agriculture,” said Molly De Marco, a co-investigator on the study.  “The area was once a thriving farm community, but changes in farming policy, discrimination against black farmers and waning interest from young people to tend their families’ farms have led to a big gap between family farms and youth.”

The focus on rebuilding the local food system is a new approach to addressing health disparities caused by rural poverty. Ironically, rural Americans in agricultural areas often have less access to healthy foods, while available jobs for youth may be limited to fast food restaurants and other low-skill jobs in the service sector.

“It may be a stretch to think we can engage rural youth in a form of employment many have been trying to escape for generations,” said Alice Ammerman, principal investigator of the study, director of HPDP and professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. “However, addressing the critical social, health and economic issues facing rural youth requires a new way of thinking. The groundswell of interest in local food and environmental sustainability has created new opportunities for many. It seems only fair that these opportunities be extended to the descendants of those who provided the backbone of agriculture early in our country’s history but have too often been denied the benefits.”

The research team will partner with churches to help build on the strong connections these organizations already have in the community. They will also use a community-based participatory research approach to include the youth and their families as partners in developing the project.  Ammerman and De Marco have already formed a partnership with Coley Springs Missionary Baptist church and Rev. William Kearney to build a church garden, which received an enthusiastic response from the community.

“Addressing health disparities without considering the underlying social determinants of health seems doomed to failure,” said Ammerman. “Lecturing youth about what they should eat as an approach to reversing obesity is also an unlikely solution. We think taking this combined approach is an innovative way to approach a major problem facing our youth.”

The project team will begin their work by recruiting youth and adult mentors in the coming months, then building from meetings with those participants for next steps.

Linnan helps launch new barbershop intervention

HPDP Research Fellow Laura Linnan (associate professor of health behavior and health education at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health) will collaborate with David Jolley (associate professor and chair of health education at North Carolina Central University(NCCU)) to develop and evaluate a  barbershop-based intervention aimed at promoting physical activity in African-American men as part of a new Comprehensive Minority Institution Cancer Center Partnership Grant. The grant to NCCU and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and its UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of two awarded in the nation.

Linnan has led three similar beauty-  and barber-shop-based health promotion studies, BEAUTY  (Bringing Education and Understanding  To You), TRIM (trimming Risk in Men), and CUTS (Cancer Understanding Today). To read more about the Center partnership grant, go to: http://cancer.unc.edu/news/2010/release1022.asp

 

Cancer researchers gather in Chapel Hill to discuss plans for next 5 years

International cancer experts got a taste of North Carolina and the strides UNC cancer researchers have made in recent years during the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (CPCRN) meeting in Chapel Hill last week.

The CPCRN is a national network of academic, public health, and community partners who work together to reduce the burden of cancer, especially among those disproportionately affected.  The network includes 163 members from 10 universities across the country, all of which are part of the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The group meets twice a year, but the fall meeting is the largest and includes principal investigators, research staff and community partners. This year’s meeting kicks off the second 5-year cycle of the CPCRN.

“We are really excited to be able to launch the beginning of this phase of the network in Chapel Hill,” said Kurt Ribisl, associate professor of health behavior and health education at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and the principal investigator of the coordinating center for the CPCRN. “We are getting great feedback about the breadth of work and collaborative environment at UNC.”

UNC-Chapel Hill is also a member of the CPCRN. Cathy Melvin, a research associate professor in the department of maternal and child health at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, leads the member project, called the Comprehensive Cancer Control Collaborative of North Carolina (4CNC). Both projects are based at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP).

The 4CNC research team has worked to redesign a common test for colorectal cancer and to make comprehensive colorectal cancer screening available to low-income North Carolinians, and will continue their focus on colorectal cancer in the next phase of the project. Ribisl said the entire network is focused on increasing colorectal cancer screening in this phase of the research, because only 40-50% of Americans are screened each year. By comparison, he said approximately 80-90% of women are screened for breast cancer.

About 60 people attended the 3-day meeting of the CPCRN, which began on October 17th. This was the first time the larger meeting washeld in Chapel Hill, giving network members a chance to see the work being done by 4CNC and other UNC cancer researchers. The meetings began with a tour of the new NC Cancer Hospital and included a research exposition and reception in the Michael Hooker Atrium at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health on October 19th.

The reception had more than 100 attendees and featured a number of projects affiliated with HPDP, including Seeds of HOPE, HOPE Accounts for Women, NC WAY to Health, Linking Local Sustainable Agriculture and Health and the Carolina Community Network.

“For me, having this meeting in Chapel Hill gives us the chance to show people what we’re doing and to hear from world-class cancer researchers,” said Melvin, who added that even within the UNC community, it is rare to have the opportunity for cancer researchers to all come together. “It is impressive and inspiring to see all these projects in one place.”

Deborah Bush, project director for the CPCRN coordinating center, planned the network meeting and Alexis Moore, project director for 4CNC, planned the reception. Both utilized the Tar Heel Guide to Restaurants and Caterers Using Local Foods, developed by HPDP researchers, to identify local caterers for the event. To see pictures from the reception, click the link below.

 

 

 

 

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HPDP seeks applicants for Deputy Director for Research and Operations

The UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention is accepting applications for a Deputy Director for Research and Operations. To read the full job description, please click the title above this message. To apply for the position, please go to: https://itsapps.unc.edu/RAMS4/details.do?reqId=2500572&type=N, or go to http:jobs.unc.edu and enter position #1001198.

Background

The UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) was established in 1985 and is governed by a Policy Board composed of the deans of the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health and the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development.  Its mission is accomplished by working with partners to:

  • enhance the ability of public health practitioners, as well as individuals, groups and communities to promote health and prevent disease,
  • conduct, evaluate, and disseminate innovative, community-based research, and
  • develop education and training programs to translate research into public health practice.

Particular emphasis is paid to the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged populations.  The Center is supported by funding from the five health affairs’ schools, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development, federal competitive research grants, including CDC and NIH, private foundation grants, and contractual agreements.

HPDP is one of the original three CDC Prevention Research Centers.  There are now 37 university-based prevention research centers across the United States, working together to advance the science of prevention.  Strong partnerships with local, county, and state agencies have been developed throughout the 25-year history of the Center, linking Center research to community-based organizations, health agencies, medical practices, and workplaces throughout the state.  HPDP is a campus resource available to any faculty member whose research interests are consistent with the Center’s mission.  Several research teams have been working with the Center for more than a decade, building their current research projects on top of the success of past research and working together with community partners to identify future research questions.

Description:

The Deputy Director for Research and Operations at the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) works closely with the Center Director and the Deputy Director for Research Development and Administration in the development, implementation, and coordination of health promotion/disease prevention research and training initiatives.  Specifically, this involves strategic planning, building organizational structures that support a collaborative work environment, managing day-to-day Center operations, and collaborating with numerous university and community partners to advance the Center’s mission and goals. It is anticipated that the Deputy Director would participate in one or more research studies as an investigator or research associate and participate in efforts to generate grant support for Center projects. This position, along with the Deputy Director for Research Development and Administration, reports directly to the Director of HPDP.

Major Responsibilities:

Management and Supervision

  • Maintain and lead the Operations Committee, a Center management team that meets regularly to coordinate functional units and programs/projects.  This involves working closely with principal investigators, unit heads, and project managers.
  • Coordinate staff resources to support Center operations, maximize productivity, and facilitate communications across projects.
  • Working with the Center’s Space Committee, supervise the allocation and utilization of the space, furnishings, and equipment within the Center’s physical plant.
  • Supervise the lead staff person of the following HPDP units: Data Capture, Information Technology Services, and Communications/Dissemination.
  • Supervise administrative support staff.
  • Consult with the Deputy Director for Research Development and Administration on human resource issues, including hiring, promotions, salary adjustments, and other personnel matters to assure equity across projects.
  • Manage special projects as determined by Center leadership.

Planning, Evaluation and Reporting

  • Coordinate yearly operational and research planning, working closely with project directors and unit managers.
  • Work with the Director to develop and maintain well-functioning Steering and Community Advisory Committees, assuring that the voice of community partners is represented.  Work closely with leadership and staff to set agendas and manage needed follow-up activities.  Serve as a critical link between strategic directions articulated by the advisory committees and the Operations Committee.
  • Work closely with the Assistant Director of Evaluation to assure the development of systems for on-going Center evaluation and continuous quality improvement.
  • Work closely with the Deputy Director for Research Development and Administration, the Assistant Director for Evaluation and the Communications Specialist to assure adherence to evaluation requirements from the PRC program office.
  • Oversee the development of Center reports and plans as required by the office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development and other University departments. This includes the Budget Planning report, Highlights report, Carolina Counts report, and Diversity planning.
  • Work closely with Center external partners to ensure effective planning and communication.

Grant Writing and Research Activities

  • Coordinate efforts for the CDC 5-year renewal competitive grant process for Prevention Research Centers
  • Oversee the development of the Center’s annual work plan and progress report for the PRC program office.  Provide guidance to the Center’s core research and special interest projects in the development of these required plans and reports.
  • Work closely with the Assistant Director for Community-Based Participatory Research, providing leadership and support on campus and in the state to promote increased capacity for community-based participatory research.
  • Coordinate and administer the Research Fellows program, identifying and recruiting potential fellows, communicating research opportunities, supporting research interest groups.
  • Assist junior faculty and staff with identifying funding opportunities and writing proposals.
  • Participate in grant proposals in research areas of interest, either as Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator.

Communications and Dissemination

  • Coordinate the development of processes, events, and norms to sustain a healthy organizational culture, including regular staff meetings, feedback systems, social events, and other communication strategies. Oversee the implementation of the Center’s communication plan that is consistent with the vision, mission and strategic planning effort of the Center to foster continued and expanding partnerships within the university and in the community.
  • Provide leadership in developing systems, strategies and products that support the overall Center communication strategy to both internal and external stakeholders.
  • Supervise the Communications Specialist, providing content guidance and editing, as needed,  for Center communications, including the website, Web 2.0, newsletter, press releases, posters, displays, and feature articles for external publication.Represent the Center at selected national, state and local meetings and conferences to communicate Center accomplishments and share information about the Center’s mission, research, training and products.
  • Track and disseminate Center accomplishments, opportunities, events and impact to diverse audiences.

Training

  • Coordinate and market HPDP training opportunities, tools and resources for staff, students, community practitioners and community health advocates.
  • Collaborate with human resources personnel to implement a staff/student orientation to Center projects, services and procedures.
  • Identify resources and opportunities available for staff development and training and implement processes that support consistent access to these opportunities.
  • Coordinate and support student mentoring experiences across projects to facilitate efficient training and exposure to the breadth of HPDP resources and activities.

 

Experience, Knowledge and Skills:

Master’s or doctoral degree in public health, health care administration, or related field and a minimum of 5 years of progressively responsible administrative experience required.  Demonstrated experience in managing strategic and organizational planning activities within a complex organization, preferably in an academic or public health setting.  Understanding of and/or experience working in a scientific/public health research environment is highly desirable. Understanding and/or experience with community-based research approaches is also highly desirable.

HPDP study to help cancer survivors plan for next steps

More than 1 million Americans have been diagnosed with colon cancer, and colon cancer survivors are the third largest group of cancer survivors in the country. Cancer patients often receive an abundance of care and support during their treatment, but do not have as many options to support survivorship once treatment is complete.

Researchers based at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) will invite 120 stage I-III colon cancer survivors to participate in a pilot study that will create a JourneyForward Survivorship Care Plan (SCP) for each participant.

 

Deborah Mayer, from the UNC School of Nursing, will lead the team examining the feasibility, acceptability and satisfaction of the SCPs for patients, providers and health care systems. Other investigators on the team include Janine Davis from the Medical Oncology department at the UNC School of Medicine and Ziya Gizlice from HPDP.

 

The project is a Special Interest Project (SIP) funded through the Prevention Research Center (PRC) Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HPDP has been a PRC for 24 years and is currently conducting ten SIPs in addition to Seeds of HOPE, the Center’s PRC Core Research Project.

Ammerman to discuss link between sustainable local food systems and health Thursday

Local food has become very trendy.  There are plenty of good arguments in favor of the local food movement, many regarding protecting the environment and a way of life for small farmers.  But does eating locally grown foods benefit our health?

Alice Ammerman, director of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and professor of nutrition in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, will discuss her research on the connections between sustainable local food and health on Thursday, October 14 from 7-9 pm at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill. The project is part of the Big Idea series coordinated by the Friday Center. To register and find more information, go to: http://www.fridaycenter.unc.edu/pdep/wbi/index.htm#linkages