Ammerman named first Mildred Kaufman Professor of nutrition

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 2.05.38 PMAlice Ammerman, DrPH, professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and director of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, has been named the inaugural Mildred Kaufman Professor of nutrition.

The professorship was announced at the Gillings School’s 49th annual Fred T. Foard Jr. Memorial Lecture on April 27, pending final approval by UNC’s Board of Trustees.

Ammerman, who joined the UNC faculty in 1991, has strong research and practice collaborations across North Carolina, especially in the area of childhood obesity. She serves on the statewide Childhood Obesity Study Committee, charged with recommending legislative action related to children’s nutrition and physical activity.

She is principal investigator for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded Center of Excellence for Training and Research Translation, charged with identification, translation and dissemination of evidence-based interventions for obesity and cardiovascular disease control and prevention.

Her research interests also include sustainable agriculture as it relates to improved nutrition, school nutrition policy in relation to childhood obesity, and social entrepreneurship as a sustainable approach for addressing public health concerns.

Mildred Kaufman, MPH, who died in 2016, was a former nutrition department chair (1987-1990) and faculty member (1977-1990) at the Gillings School and was a lifelong advocate for public health nutrition.

During a decade of work with the U.S. Public Health Service, she was involved with issues of chronic disease control, standard of food service and nutrition care for nursing homes.

Kaufman’s 12 years working with the State of Florida involved groundbreaking activities, including expanding the number of state nutritionists from 14 to 75 and advocating for the health needs of the migrant population in Florida. She became a national leader in the area of migrant health.

At UNC’s public health school, she was instrumental in developing the Master of Public Health (MPH) program as a means of interdisciplinary training. She developed an innovative MPH program, the first of its kind globally to combine registered dietitian (RD) training with obtaining an MPH degree.

The Mildred Kaufman Professorship was established in recognition of Kaufman’s contributions to practice, training, research and professional service in the field of public health nutrition. The holder of the distinguished professorship is one who honors the goals that guided Kaufman’s career, namely the development of a strong, active nutrition component as a vital element in comprehensive, life-cycle public health programs and services.

“As a student here at UNC, Alice was mentored by Mildred Kaufman,” said Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of nutrition and medicine and chair of the Gillings School’s Department of Nutrition. “Since those incredibly important formative years, Alice has been a true champion of public health nutrition, working to improve health and reduce health inequities through public health nutrition research, practice and policy, both here in North Carolina and nationally. I’m sure that Mildred would be as proud of Alice’s accomplishments as we are; it’s a true testament to Mildred’s legacy that Alice has had such a successful career to advance public health nutrition.”

Ammerman noted that Kaufman was chair of the nutrition department when she [Ammerman] was a master’s student at UNC.

“Mildred set a high standard for community engagement among public health nutrition professionals and addressing health disparities,” Ammerman said. “I continue to be inspired by her and strive to incorporate her vision into my own work. I’m therefore very pleased to be awarded a professorship named in her honor.”

Reposted from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

UNC-Chapel Hill’s 2016 Harvey Award funds projects focused on hunger and educational success for children in foster care

(Chapel Hill, N.C.— April 20, 2017) – Faculty members from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and schools of medicine, education and social work will tackle the issues of local hunger and academic success for North Carolina foster children with funding provided by the 2016 C. Felix Harvey Award to Advance Institutional Priorities.

The Harvey Award reflects a core Carolina value—serving the public good—by recognizing exemplary faculty scholarship that addresses real-world challenges and reflects the University’s commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation.

Dr. Alice Ammerman, director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and professor of nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health and School of Medicine, will lead a coalition of community partners to increase access to healthy food for low-income consumers.

“This venture provides access to healthy food for low-income community members while also providing economic opportunities for local farmers and retailers,” said Ammerman. “The project will develop a sales model with dual price points—full price or slightly higher at an upscale food store, and significantly reduced prices at four small community grocery stores.”

The group will use local food production facilities and seasonally available local food to create healthy frozen meals that will be offered for sale at local markets. While inspired by the Mediterranean diet, the recipes will be adapted for the southern palate, featuring southern vegetables and locally produced meats. Local partners include Weaver Street Market, Carolina student start-up Seal the Seasons and Farmer Foodshare among others.

This year, through the generosity of the McNairy Foundation and the C. Felix Harvey Award endowment, a second award will fund a team developing a program to meet the academic needs of children in foster care: Dr. Molly Berkoff, associate professor of pediatrics and medical director of the Child Medical Evaluation Program and Child Protection Team, School of Medicine; Dr. Robert Martinez Jr., assistant professor, School of Education; and Laura Phipps, clinical assistant professor at the Family and Children’s Resource Program, Jordan Institute for Families at the School of Social Work.

Together, they will develop an online training toolkit to guide child welfare social workers as they assist foster care children and advocate for their academic needs. Some studies show that less than 60 percent of students in foster care finish high school, and among those who do, only 3 percent pursue postsecondary education. Though North Carolina currently has a strong child welfare system, there are no training tools focused on the specific academic needs of foster children. This project will assist with development of resources for both child welfare and the North Carolina school system to use in local districts.

“I’m very passionate about this work,” said Berkoff. “Since I arrived at Carolina in 2003, I’ve worked with children who have been victims of abuse and neglect, focusing on their medical needs. Many of them are in foster care and over time I realized that we could work better with our partners in the school system and the child welfare system to meet their educational needs.”

The late C. Felix Harvey was chairman of Harvey Enterprises & Affiliates and founder of the Little Bank Inc., both in Kinston, North Carolina. A 1943 Carolina graduate, he joined his family in 2007 to endow the award with a $2 million commitment. Five generations of Harveys have earned UNC-Chapel Hill degrees.

No Kid Hungry Graduate Research Assistant, Jessica Soldavini, receives Community Engagement Fellowship


Jessica Soldavini

Jessica Soldavini, a Graduate Research Assistant for No Kid Hungry, recently received a Community Engagement Fellowship for her Food for the Summer project.

The Community Engagement Fellowship program awards a maximum of seven fellowships of up to $2,000 each year to develop and implement engagement or engaged scholarship projects that employ innovative, sustainable approaches to complex social needs and have an academic connection. Returning, full-time graduate students at UNC-Chapel Hill are eligible to apply. Previous fellows are eligible to apply for an additional year of funding. Fellows work in collaboration with community partners and faculty mentors who are familiar with their topics or geographic areas, while fellows are responsible for the major planning and implementation of their projects. The fellowships run from March-November with project implementation occurring during the summer.

Soldavini’s Food for the Summer project provides free meals and enrichment activities for children up to 18 years old who live in low-income areas in Chapel Hill and Carrboro during the summer when school is out. Last summer, the program used an innovative model to serve more than 48,000 meals. This project will evaluate of the Food for the Summer program in partnership with an evaluation subcommittee. Teen ambassadors from the neighborhoods served by Food for the Summer will also be engaged in the project. Evaluation methods include analyzing Summer Food Service program data; developing tracking systems for activities; and conducting surveys, interviews and/or focus groups with program participants and other key stakeholders. Evaluation results will be used to identify program outcomes and successes, determine which program components are most successful and identify areas of improvement. Results will also help secure future funding and inform a sustainability. Evaluation results will be shared with other communities to help inform Summer Nutrition Program efforts across the state and country.

For more information on the Community Engagement Fellowship, as well as other recipients of the award, click here.

Schneider to receive Paper of the Year Award from the Society for Public Health Education

Ellen Caylor Schneider

Ellen Caylor Schneider

Ellen C. Schneider, MBA, Research Scientist at HPDP, will receive the Sarah Mazelis Best Paper of the Year Award for Health Promotion Practice on March 31st at the Society for Public Health Education’s (SOPHE) Awards Ceremony in Denver, CO. This ceremony takes place during SOPHE’s 68th Annual Meeting entitled Scaling New Heights: Health for All.

The award-winning paper, State Fall Prevention Coalitions as Systems Change Agents: An Emphasis on Policy, was co-authored by HPDP Research Fellows Tiffany Shubert, PhD, MPT, and Mary Altpeter, PhD. The authors analyzed the implementation of falls prevention policies in accordance with the National Council on Aging’s Falls Free® Initiative. Results showed that statewide Fall Prevention Coalitions are pursuing and implementing these policies but could benefit from additional resources and technical assistance. This study is the first national census of empirical evidence regarding these programs.

The Sarah Mazelis Paper of the Year Award is given to authors published in Health Promotion Practice whose findings have made significant contributions to health education and policy. This award commemorates Sarah Mazelis, who was a renowned practitioner, health educator, and member of the SOPHE.

For more information about the SOPHE 2017 award winners, please click here.


The UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention is a Prevention Research Center funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Media Contact: Sonya Sutton,; 919-966-4118


HPDP receives $1.5 million to develop diabetes self-management education toolkit

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 2.05.38 PM

Alice Ammerman, DrPH

CHAPEL HILL, NC – The Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP), a CDC Prevention Research Center, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was awarded a $1.5 million contract to develop a national toolkit for public health and clinical providers to assure that people with diabetes have access to evidence-based education and support programs to help manage their condition.

Diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) programs aim to prevent or delay the complications of diabetes. While proven to be cost-saving and have a positive impact on diabetes-related outcomes, DSMES programs remain underutilized among patients and health care professionals. The goal of this project is to expand access to DSMES programs to ensure that all people with diabetes are able to receive the care they need. The research team will market the programs to state health departments to help the health departments distribute the program across their states.

UNC investigators Alice Ammerman, DrPH, director of HPDP and professor of nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, Thomas Keyserling, MD, MPH, professor of internal medicine in the School of Medicine, Carmen-Samuel Hodge, RD, PhD, research assistant professor of nutrition at Gillings, Greg Randolph, MD, MPH in the department of pediatrics at the School of Medicine and Hugh Waters, PhD, associate professor in the School of Nursing will be partnering with Population Health Improvement Partners (PHIP), People Designs, RTI International, and the RTI-UNC Consortium for Implementation Science (CIS) on this project. The project is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with partners at the CDC and with our colleagues in the clinical and public health communities through this project,” said Ammerman. “The DSMES programs have the potential for enormous positive impact if we can develop, implement, and market a Toolkit that helps overcome the challenges provider, patient, and system levels.”

The research team will develop a strategic marketing plan for the toolkit to make sure that all audiences who could benefit from this project will be reached. Diabetes professionals across the United States will be trained to use these tools through a series of webinars and in-person training sessions.

“This toolkit will be a one-stop resource for creating, implementing, sustaining and maintaining a DSMES program that meets the highest quality standards set by the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators,” said Joanne Rinker, Senior Director For Community Health Improvement at PHIP.  “We look forward to completing this work over the next 3 years and how it will impact access to diabetes self-management education.”

The UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention is a Prevention Research Center funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Media Contact: Sonya Sutton,; 919-966-4118

HPDP Research Fellow honored by Obesity Society

“The impact of their work will be felt for many years to come.”

Dianne Stanton Ward, EdD, a fellow at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP), was recently awarded the the 2016 Oded Bar-Or Award at ward_dianne_2014the annual meeting of The Obesity Society, called “Obesity Week.” This award recognizes an individual selected by the Pediatric Obesity Section for contributions to pediatric obesity research and advances in the scientific understanding of etiology, prevention and treatment of obesity.  Ward was recognized alongside Deborah Tate, PhD, a professor of nutrition and of health behavior at UNC that won the 2016 Pioneer Award.

Ward has worked as a principal investigator for the Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment (NAP SACC) program, a research program based at HPDP. NAP SACC promotes healthy eating and physical activity in young children in child care and preschool settings. Ward is also the head of HPDP’s Children’s Healthy Weight Research Group, which leads multiple research projects dedicated to improving the health of young children.

Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of nutrition and medicine at UNC, was not short in her praise of these two women. “Both of them have collaborated extensively here at UNC, and their work has contributed substantially to the field,” Mayer-Davis said. “It is important also to recognize that both have been very much engaged in training students and fellows. The impact of their work will be felt for many years to come.”

To learn more about this topic, click here:

HPDP Research at APHA 2016

HPDP researchers are presenting their work at the American Public Health Association’s 2016 Annual Meeting and Expo. This year’s theme is “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health”. The meeting is from October 29 to November 2 in Denver, Colorado. HPDP research that will be presented includes:

HPDP Research Fellow gives keynote address at New Mexico Conference on Aging


On August 24th, Ellen Schneider, a Research Fellow at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, gave a keynote address for the 38th annual meeting of the New Mexico Conference on Aging. The Conference has been organized since 1978 as a way for adults, caregivers and professionals to learn more about aging while encouraging a fun environment.

Schneider is known for her work with the National Falls Free Initiative, as well as facilitating the National Falls Prevention Awareness and Advocacy Committee. She also co-founded the North Carolina Falls Prevention Coalition, which worked to create the North Carolina Falls Prevention Awareness Week. This week, which will be from September 19th to 24th this year, was proclaimed into observance by Governor Pat McCrory in 2015.

“As part of my role with the National Council on Aging’s National Falls Prevention Resource Center, I am working to spread the word across the country about how to reduce falls risks and help people live as safely and independently for as long as possible.”

Schneider’s keynote topic was “Successful Strategies to Reduce Older Adult Fall Risks.” She spoke on the U.S. Administration for Community Living, which has recently awarded grants to organizations focused on evidence-based programs for older adults and adults with disabilities. She also discussed the growing magnitude and impact of older adults falls; proven interventions to prevent falls; and tools for screening, assessing and referring older adults to appropriate resources.

The session not only stressed national efforts to address this public health issue, but also touched on successful fall prevention strategies being implemented by some afore-mentioned organizations. Approximately 2,000 people attended the presentation.

“Falls are the leading cause of injuries and injury deaths for people 65 and older,” Schneider said in her speech. “The good news is that most falls are preventable by taking simple steps such as exercising to increase strength and balance, reviewing medications with a health care provider, maximizing vision and hearing, and addressing potential falls hazard at home.”

The statistics on fall-related injuries are numerous and surprising. In 2011, falling was the confirmed cause of 883 deaths and roughly 25,000 hospitalizations, in just the state of North Carolina. In the entire United States, around 2.5 million older adults are treated in emergency departments due to fall injuries; and of these 2.5 million, over 700,000 are hospitalized. One of the most thought-provoking statistics can be found in a study done by the CDC, which researched into the unintentional fall death rates per 100,000 people, over age 65, in the United states from 2004-2013. This report found that the death rate increased by almost 20 percent, over this nine-year span.

For more information on the North Carolina Falls Prevention Coalition, go to:

You can also find more information on Ellen Schneider at:


Newly funded project will ease parental concerns and help providers recommend HPV vaccine to help prevent cancer


Noel Brewer, PhD (Photo courtesy of UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health)

CHAPEL HILL, NC –  The human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine has been available for a decade, but many adolescents do not receive the vaccine, putting them at risk for several cancers. A new project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will develop a step-by-step strategy to ease concerns from adolescents and their parents and recommend vaccination to help prevent cancer in future generations.

The project will be led by Noel Brewer, PhD, professor of health behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. He is a member of UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and a chair on the National HPV Vaccination Roundtable. The research funding is from the Prevention Research Center Program at Center for Disease Control and Prevention to the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

This innovative multi-level study will build on communication theory, clinical experience, and several years of research by Brewer’s team to identify effective messages and to refine a step-by-step strategy for effectively recommending HPV vaccination. The research team will enhance one promising strategy, the EASE approach, which helps providers address parental concerns and effectively recommend vaccination.

“Most parents want to follow their providers’ advice about HPV vaccination,” said Brewer. “But when concerns come up, research doesn’t yet tell us what the best way to address them. We will develop messages that parents and providers both agree are effective.”

Although the EASE approach is promising, it lacks several key features: data about its impact and effectiveness, specific messages to address parents’ HPV concerns, and emphasis on high quality provider information. The research team plans to amend these shortcomings in the EASE approach in order to achieve the main goal of providing a therapeutic connection between providers and parents, which will ideally raise the frequency of vaccinations for a generation largely at risk.

Brewer added one of the most effective ways to start a conversation about adolescent vaccines is for the provider to inform parents that the child is due for meningitis, HPV and Tdap vaccines.  The research will help providers take the next step when parents have questions.

“Increasing HPV vaccination may prevent as many as 50,000 new cases of cancers,” said Brewer.  “Our research will help the nation meet the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80% of adolescents ages 13-15 having received the full course of HPV vaccination.”

The study is based at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Chapel Hill and funded by the Prevention Research Center Program (PRC) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HPDP has been a Prevention Research Center for the entire 30-year history of the program. The HPV project is of one the PRC’s Special Interest Projects, which focus on priority public health issues using additional funding for prevention research. For more information on SIPs, please visit the Centers for Disease Control’s website.

Nathan Klima

Media Contact: Sonya Sutton,; 919-966-4118

Building a partnership in Hertford County, NC with Community Health Workers


The Carolina Heart Alliance Networking for Greater Equity (CHANGE) is testing an innovative program to encourage healthy habits and reduce the risk forheart disease by engaging community health workers (CHWs) to bridge the gap between clinical and community services.

Researchers from the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP), a Prevention Research Center funded
by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have partnered with the local health department, federally qualified health center and community leaders to test this approach in Hertford County, NC for the CHANGE project. Hertford County is located in northeastern North Carolina, about 2.5 hours from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The area has an active farming community and other major employers include a privately run prison near the county seat of Winton and poultry processing plants. The community also has a strong public health infrastructure, including the Hertford County Public Health Authority, the Roanoke-Chowan Community Health Center and the North Carolina Area Health Education Center (AHEC).


Click here to watch a video of one of our CHANGE community health workers describe the project.

The HPDP research team is led by Sam Cykert, MD, and Jennifer Leeman, DrPH. The CHANGE project builds on the PRC-developed Heart-to-Health intervention, which has been proven effective when delivered by clinicians, but hadn’t been tried with CHWs.

The research team chose Hertford County because of its rural and low-income population rural and low income and has high rates of unhealthy behaviors. They also chose Hertford because both Dr. Cykert and Dr. Leeman have worked with the community in the past and knew the Public Healthy Authority and Community Health Center would be great partners.

“RCCHC has been particularly good at reducing cardiovascular risk within the clinical realm,” said Cykert. “By connecting CHWs to the clinical world, it provides a great opportunity to reach into the community and not only improve health for those already at risk but to touch family members and others with lessons on diet and other heart healthy habits.”

After choosing Hertford County, the investigators sought out community leaders and public health practitioners to form a community advisory board to advise the process. They spent a year adapting the intervention and developing a plan for its implementation with the advisory team, and hired two community health workers in the fall of 2015.

Taylor Myers and Nikita Moore are both natives of Hertford County who have a keen interest in working in public health and helping their communities.  Myers applied for the position after completing her undergraduate degree in health promotion, and said she was thrilled when she got the job.

“I was very excited, because prevention and intervention is what I always dreamed of doing,” said Myers.  “Helping people to be more educated about health, especially around here, was very exciting. The most exciting part is being able to build a close relationship with a patient, because I can spend more time with them than a doctor or nurse might be able to.”

In addition to recruiting participants from the community, the project recruits through health care providers, and nurses and clinic staff provide potential participants information about the project. If the patient consents to follow-up, then Myers or Moore calls the patient to set up an initial appointment.  Moore works with individuals who relay their interest through community organizations so her recruitment venues expands the primary prevention scope beyond the clinic and those who already have a diagnosis. Myers is based at the Roanoke-Chowan Community Health Center and Moore is based at the health department in nearby Winton.

“I always tell patients that I’m like the middle man between a nurse and a doctor,” said Myers.  “I’m not a nurse and I’m not a doctor, and I have more time with my patients than a doctor;  I’m allowed up to an hour and a half with them. That allows me to build a strong relationship with my patients.”

Myers has worked with 11 CHANGE participants who have completed the program. Those participants have said they enjoyed the program and have had good outcomes.  The CHWs meet with participants four times throughout the program and take their blood pressure and health measurements at the beginning and end to see what changes have occurred.

She said that the partnerships built through CHANGE have helped to connect patients with resources in their communities, and that she felt those partnerships and relationships would last after the project is completed in 2019.

The next step for the project is to expand to a second community in 2017. The team will continue to use the CHW model and will be looking for CHWs in the new community to continue the work started in Hertford County.

The CHANGE project is the Applied Research Project of the UNC Prevention Research Center, based at HPDP. The Prevention Research Centers is a network of 26 academic research centers in 24 states that study how people and their communities can avoid or counter the risks for chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, obesity, and cancer. They identify gaps in research and develop innovative approaches to improving public health that can be shared broadly with public health partners.  HPDP was one of the first three PRCs funded in 1986, and has been part of the PRC network for the entire 30 years of the program.