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Keeping in touch

In the early days of public health at Emory, communication was easier. Conversations around the coffeepot led to many of the research and teaching initiatives that made RSPH the great place to work and learn that it is today. These days, with departments on different floors and some faculty and classes in other buildings, 30 seconds on the stairs or in the elevator is often the best we can do. Although change can be unsettling, it has also brought great things. We continue to attract a higher caliber of students. We bring in more research dollars than any school at Emory except the School of Medicine. And our researchers undertake more diverse and wide-ranging studies all the time. I hope this quarterly letter will help faculty, administrators, staff, students, and leaders across campus keep in touch with our progress. Please send your thoughts and news items to me via Valerie Gregg at vgregg@emory.edu or e-mail me directly at jcurran@sph.emory.edu.

Promotion

I am pleased to announce that Richard Levinson has been appointed Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. He has come a long way since the early days of the public health program, when his office was the sun porch of a little house on Clifton Road. In his new role he will assume a higher profile and will represent the interests of our school across the university with greater authority. Congratulations and many thanks for Dick's many years of dedicated service.

Search for Epi chair under way

The search is under way for a new chair for the Department of Epidemiology, who will be named the O. Wayne and Grace Crum Rollins Professor of Epidemiology. The new chair should help the school pursue new opportunities in cancer research with the Winship Cancer Institute and the new Georgia Cancer Coalition. Reynaldo Martorell, chair of International Health and Robert W. Woodruff Professor of International Nutrition, is chairing the search committee. The school owes a great debt of gratitude to John Boring, who is stepping down as department chair after many years of dedicated leadership. John has been among Emory's most gifted teachers for more than 25 years and has received many awards, including the Thomas Jefferson Award, the university's most prestigious honor. He has agreed to continue serving until the new chair arrives, at which time he will remain on the faculty as professor to continue his research and teaching.

Endowment update

Gifts since September to the O. Wayne and Grace Crum Rollins Endowment Fund now total more than $9 million, bringing the school's total endowment to approximately $18 million. This endowment allows us to begin the search for the Rollins Chair in Epidemiology, the first such chair at the RSPH. Endowment funds will also help create a revolving fund to endow outstanding junior faculty during the early years of their careers. Significant gifts have also been made to a number of endowed funds, including the Dean's Council Scholarship Fund, the Thomas F. Sellers Jr. Scholarship Fund, and the Charles C. Shepard Scholarship Fund.

A true humanitarian

I continue to be profoundly touched and astonished by the dedication and determination of our students to make the world a better place for all. I am proud to announce that MPH student and physician Carlos Franco Paredes recently received the Emory University Humanitarian Award. A fellow in the AIDS International Training and Research Program, Carlos has worked hard to improve health care for local Hispanic immigrants. During his medical residency at Emory, he has urged Grady Memorial Hospital to provide translation and culturally sensitive services for Spanish-speaking patients, and he works tirelessly at both Grady and the Fulton County Tuberculosis Clinic. He is well known for giving needy patients gifts of clothing, money, medical care, and personal support, both in and out of the hospital. After graduation, Carlos plans to work for Doctors Without Borders and then return to his native Mexico to work in the National TB Control Program. He was nominated for the award by Assistant Professor Jennifer Hirsch.

Welcome aboard

Join me in welcoming David Holtgrave, who joins the faculty as professor in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education and director of the Behavioral Core of the Center for AIDS Research. A prolific researcher and award-winning teacher, he has served as director of the CDC Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention: Intervention, Research, and Support since 1997. David earned his PhD in Quantitative Psychology from the University of Illinois in 1988 and served as a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard shortly thereafter. He has been an adjunct faculty member here since 1992, and we are extremely pleased to welcome him.

Search for Rosalynn Carter Chair in Mental Health

Funding for the Rosalynn Carter Chair in Mental Health is now virtually complete, and a search is ongoing. This endowed chair - a joint appointment at the RSPH and The Carter Center - will honor Rosalynn Carter's advocacy for mental health issues. It will be the first endowed chair in mental health at a school of public health nationwide and the first joint appointment between RSPH and The Carter Center. Chairing the search is Ken Thorpe, Robert W. Woodruff Professor and chair of Health Policy and Management.

NIH Independent Scientist Award

Congratulations to Professor Claire Sterk, chair of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education. The NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse recently recognized Claire with an Independent Scientist Award, which frees 75% of her time for the next five years to pursue research subjects of her own choosing. She plans to focus on patterns of substance abuse within families and communities, explore the correlation between substance abuse and psychopathology, and seek gender- and culture-specific ways to reduce the risk of drug addiction.

Lymphatic Filariasis Center wins Gates grant

Congratulations to Associate Professor Anne Haddix and the Lymphatic Filariasis Support Center in International Health for receiving a $6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Working with The Carter Center and CDC, the center will receive funding over the next five years to help eliminate this very important disabling parasitic disease. The funding is part of a $20 million grant to support the Global Alliance for the Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis, a coalition of public and private partners. Professor Haddix and her colleagues will coordinate demonstration projects in the Dominican Republic and Guyana and will evaluate seven other projects in afflicted countries. The effort should help define the most successful approaches for eradicating the disease.

New neighbors

Faculty and staff in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education are settling in on the first and second floors of the new Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing building next door. Several RSPH departments are using the high-tech classrooms there as well, and nursing faculty and students are using our space in the American Cancer Society building and 1525 Clifton Road. The 100,000-square-foot, $22 million nursing building and the Grace Crum Rollins Public Health Building are joined by an internal walkway linking the two schools, encouraging a new era of collaboration in teaching and research between our two schools.

Faculty news

Victoria Phillips, associate professor of Health Policy and Management, was recently named the Associate Director for Health Services Research for the new Emory Center for Health in Aging. Vicki Hertzberg, chair of Biostatistics, and Arthur Kellermann, director of the RSPH Center for Injury Control, both received awards from the American Public Health Association last fall. Vicki received the APHA Statistics Section Award, and Art received the Excellence in Science Award from the APHA Injury Control and Emergency Health Services Section. Congratulations to all!

Students take on gun violence

Students in the Emory chapter of the Georgia Public Health Association, now in its second year of existence, gathered more than 600 signatures last fall to petition Governor Roy Barnes to support a bill aimed to keep handguns away from children. "Children in the United States ages 15 and younger die of gun violence at a rate 12 times higher than children in 25 other industrialized nations combined," read the petition. The bill, which passed in the Senate last year but died in the House, would have made allowing a minor access to a gun a misdemeanor. The students hope legislators will take up gun control issues again during the new legislative session.

Teaching Tolerance

Kathy Miner's Program Evaluation class recently evaluated Atlanta's Prejudice Awareness Summit 2000. This watershed event brought more than 300 local middle school students together to confront the tough issues surrounding prejudice and intolerance. The evaluation judged the event a success, concluding that the students learned to understand their own prejudices and how to be tolerant of those different from themselves. Well done!

In the line of duty

We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of former student and Unicef employee Matthew Girvin, MPH94, 36, who died January 15 in a helicopter crash in Mongolia. He was on a humanitarian mission for the United Nations and died along with eight others. Gifts in Girvin's memory may be made to the Matthew Girvin Scholarship Fund at the RSPH. For more information, contact Kathryn H. Graves, Assistant Dean for Development and External Relations, at 404-727-3352 or kgraves@sph.emory.edu.

James W. Curran, MD, MPH








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