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Dean Curran  

Dean James W. Curran

Another year full of promise

The RSPH is going strong with the start of the academic year. Our incoming class includes 449 MPH and MSPH students, 32 PhD students, and 10 Humphrey Fellows. In the new MPH class, 52 students are enrolled in the Career Master of Public Health program, and 25 students are enrolled in dual-degree programs. It also includes 34 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, nearly twice the number as last year. Total enrollment is 1,188 students, which includes 960 degree-seeking students, 48 students with special standing, 147 doctoral students, and 23 postdoctoral fellows. Here are a few more highlights about our incoming class:

  • New students represent 45 states and 35 countries and speak approximately 70 different languages and dialects.

  • 17% of the students are international, while 30% are African American, Asian, Hispanic, and multiethnic.

  • 80% are female and 20% are male.

  • The class includes our second cohort of King Abdullah Fellows from Saudi Arabia. Of the 10 new fellows, six are majoring in health policy and management, and four are studying global health. The first six fellows who enrolled last year are majoring in global health.

As of this fall, we have 190 full-time faculty,17 of whom joined Rollins during the past year (read more about them below). As of August 31, sponsored research for 2012 totaled approximately $74 million, slightly lower than the $76 million awarded in 2011 but a great accomplishment nonetheless, given the ever-growing competition for research funding.

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NIH awards $9 million to Emory CFAR

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded the Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) more than $9 million in a five-year grant that includes renewal of Emory's designation as an NIH CFAR site. This is the third NIH competitive renewal grant since the CFAR at Emory was established in 1998. Since the Emory CFAR's founding, NIH has provided more than $24 million to expand NIH-funded AIDS research at Emory.

Under the direction of RSPH Dean James Curran; Carlos del Rio, chair of the Hubert Department of Global Health; and Eric Hunter, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in the School of Medicine; the CFAR at Emory is one of 21 NIH-funded CFARs in the United States. It provides support for 245 Emory and affiliated faculty, research fellows, and postdoctoral fellows who conduct fundamental, translational, and applied research in the United States and globally.

"The Emory Center for AIDS Research has allowed numerous Emory scientists, along with our research partners, to make a huge impact on Atlanta and the Southeast in fighting this epidemic through basic and applied research, clinical trials, improved treatment, behavioral and therapeutic intervention and prevention, and access to care through community involvement," says Curran. "We have great hopes that through our continued efforts we will continue to better control and eventually eliminate this terrible disease."

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PCORI award supports study of patient-centered care in hospital settings

Dean Curran  

Edmund Becker


Edmund Becker, professor of health policy and management, is leading a two-year study of patient-centered care in hospital settings, funded by a $600,000 award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

A relatively new paradigm, patient-centered care is built on partnerships involving delivery systems, practitioners, patients, and their families. A growing body of evidence shows that patient-centered care has important benefits for patients through improved communication, more appropriate interventions, enhanced satisfaction, and better reported outcomes.

"With patient-centered care becoming one of the foundations of high-quality hospital care, it is essential that policy-makers, hospital leaders, and hospital patients and providers understand the implications in the hospital setting," says Becker. "Our study will analyze hospital patient admissions in 14 states from 2009 to 2010 for heart attacks, congestive heart failure, and pneumonia and evaluate how patient-centered care and aspects of the hospital's structure and processes impact patient outcomes and satisfaction. In particular, we will focus on how variations in patients' race and ethnicity, payer mix, age, gender, and chronic conditions influence patient-centered assessments."

Grants from PCORI and NIH for the Emory CFAR are among more than 60 grants awarded to faculty for research and training from April to August 2012. View the complete list here.

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New center targets prevention of spina bifida by 2022

Godfrey Oakley  

Godfrey Oakley


RSPH is home to the new Center for Spina Bifida Research, Prevention, and Policy (CSBRPP), directed by epidemiology professor Godfrey Oakley in collaboration with Emory's Department of Pediatrics and the not-for-profit Sophie's Voice Foundation.

Spina bifida, a severe birth defect caused by abnormal development of the spinal cord, often causes paralysis and other physical and developmental conditions among children. Worldwide, more than 325,000 babies are born annually with neural tube birth defects, 75% of which could be prevented with the proper daily consumption of folic acid.

CSBRPP will help other countries develop and implement regulations that require folic acid (and iron, zinc, and vitamin B12) be added to flour, corn, and rice products. In doing so, the center will collaborate with the CDC's National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and other international public, private, nonprofit, and academic partners, including the Flour Fortification Initiative at Rollins. In time, the center plans to create new programs that advance quality of life for people living with spina bifida and help them achieve their full potential, including the transition from childhood to adult care.

"Folic acid fortification is now required by nearly 70 countries," says Oakley. "Globally, however, we are only preventing about 20% of spina bifida-F (spina bifida that folic acid prevents), so the primary goal of the new center is the worldwide prevention of spina bifida by 2022."

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Pregnant women lighting up less

Kathleen Adams  

Kathleen Adams


Study results published in the July issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine show that higher taxes and smoke-free policies are reducing smoking among pregnant women.

The researchers evaluated smoking bans and taxes on cigarettes, along with the level of tobacco control spending, and found that state tobacco control policies can be effective in curbing smoking during pregnancy and in preventing a return to smoking within four months on average after delivery.

"This is one of the first studies of pregnant women's smoking in the new era of more restrictive state tobacco control policies, and we found a sizable increase in the quit rate," says lead investigator Kathleen Adams, professor of health policy and management. "In addition, tax policies appear to be effective in keeping these women from relapsing in the first few months postpartum, and the implementation of a full workplace smoke-free policy also increases quits."

Investigators determined that a $1 increase in taxes and prices increases the probability of quitting by the last three months of pregnancy by 4.8 percentage points—from 44.1% to 48.9%. The probability of having sustained nonsmoking four months after delivery is increased by 4.2 percentage points or from 21.3% to 25.5%, with a $1 increase in real taxes. A full ban on smoking at private worksites increased the probability of quitting smoking during pregnancy by 4 to 5 percentage points. Read more.

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Art in the Rollins community

Be sure to visit the Environs Gallery, where the first Rollins Environmental Community Arts Project is on display. Last spring students, faculty, and staff painted 600 light switches that now form two murals designed by Justine Goetzman, an art graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her project was selected by a juried panel for the arts project, cosponsored by the RSPH Dean's Office and the Rollins Environmental Health Action Committee (REHAC) and supported by the Department of Environmental Health.

Art in the Rollins  

Priyanka Pathak 12MPH, James Curran, Justine Goetzman, and Dean Surbey. Pathak served as a REHAC board member.


As Goetzman explains, the murals illustrate the significance of individual consumers' energy conservation efforts and the industry's impact on human health. The larger mural depicts dirty energy generated by coal. The smaller mural shows caged canaries, used to detect toxic gases in coal mines, and human lungs, a reminder of how fossil fuels contribute to air pollution and harm human health.

"The message of this project is that individual energy-saving acts, such as merely switching off a light, can lead to massive overall impact in conserving energy," Goetzman says. "Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels can lead to better health for everyone."

The murals are on display until spring 2013 in the Environs Gallery, located in the Department of Environmental Health on the second floor of the Claudia Nance Rollins Building.

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Faculty promotions and appointments

Please join me in welcoming new faculty and congratulating those who have been promoted to new positions:


  • Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
    Limin Peng, from Assistant to Associate Professor (with tenure)
    Qi Long, from Assistant to Associate Professor (with tenure)

  • Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
    Delia Lang, from Assistant to Associate Professor (research track)
    Hannah Cooper, from Assistant to Associate Professor (with tenure)

  • Environmental Health
    Gary Miller to Asa Griggs Candler Chair of Environmental Health

  • Global Health
    Aryeh Stein, from Associate Professor (with tenure) to Professor
    Kathryn Yount to Asa Griggs Candler Chair of Global Health


  • Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
    Julie Painter, Assistant Professor (research track)
    Colin Talley, Associate Professor (research track)

  • Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
    Jeffrey Switchenko, Assistant Professor (research track)
    Laura Ward, Associate

  • Environmental Health
    Kelly Baker, Assistant Professor (research track)
    Matthew Freeman, Assistant Professor (tenure track)

  • Epidemiology
    Veronika Fedirko, Assistant Professor (tenure track)
    Neel Gandhi, Associate Professor (tenure track)
    A. Cecile J.W. Janssens, Professor (research track)
    Vijaya Kancherla, Instructor (research track)
    Tene Lewis, Associate Professor (tenure track)
    A.D. McNaghten, Associate Professor (research track)
    Travis Sanchez, Associate Professor (research track)
  • Global Health
    Amy Kirby, Assistant Professor (research track)
    Scott McNabb, Professor (research track)
    Helena Pachón, Associate Professor (research track)

  • Health Policy and Management
    Peter Joski, Senior Associate

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Juan Leon and students  

Juan Leon and students

ASPH/Pfizer honors Leon for teaching
Juan Leon, assistant professor of global health, is the recipient of the 2012 Early Career in Public Health Teaching Award, presented by the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH) and Pfizer Inc. Leon was honored for his personal commitment to mentoring students and faculty peers.

"Students from across the university attracted to his lab and field research have performed award-winning research, led public health teams, presented papers at national and international meetings, and have co-authored peer-reviewed publications," wrote Richard Levinson, executive associate dean for academic affairs, in nominating Leon for the award. ASHP/Pfizer presents four awards annually to recognize faculty excellence in teaching, practice, and research.

Waller appointed to two national committees
Lance Waller, Rollins Professor and chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, was appointed to the Applications Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics of the National Academies Board on Mathematical Sciences and as chair of the American Statistical Association (ASA) work group, "Training the Next Generation." He also received the 2012 Distinguished Achievement Medal from the ASA Section on Statistics in the Environment.

Hogue named to NIH study section
Carol Hogue, director of the Women's and Children's Center, was selected to serve on the Infectious Diseases, Reproductive Health, Asthma, and Pulmonary Conditions Study Section of NIH's Center for Scientific Review. Study sections review grant applications submitted to the NIH, make recommendations on these applications to NIH national advisory councils, and survey the status of research in their fields of science. Hogue holds the Jules and Uldeen Terry Chair in Maternal and Child Health at Rollins.

Angela Miller  

Angela Miller

Lauren Christensen-Linquist  

Lauren Christensen-Linquist

PhD students honored for epidemiology studies
The Department of Epidemiology recently hosted Research and Progress Day, during which PhD students share their study results from the past year. It was also a day to remember Anoopa Sharma, a PhD student in epidemiology who died in an automobile accident in 2005. Two annual awards are given to PhD students in her honor. Each student receives a $1,000 prize.

Angela Miller received the 2012 Anoopa Sharma Award for excellence in epidemiological research on underserved populations. The award, based on faculty nominatons, recognizes Miller for her study of “Paternal Involvement as a Risk Factor for Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes.” Her study stems from her commitment to improving pregnancy outcomes for African American and underserved women.

A panel of four faculty judges presented the 4th Annual Sharma Award for Best Epidemiological Research to Lauren Christensen-Linquist for the presentation she gave during Research and Progress Day. Her topic: "Developing a Surveillance System for Stillbirth: An Exploratory Study to Determine the Acceptability of a Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring and Surveillance (PRAMS)-like Survey Among Women Who Have Recently Experienced a Stillbirth." Congratulations to these outstanding students!

Eight graduates selected as ASPH/CDC fellows
The following graduates were awarded 2012 fellowships at CDC sponsored by the agency and the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH). They received eight of 39 fellowships awarded to graduates of ASPH-member schools.
  • ASPH/CDC Allan Rosenfield Global Health Fellowship Program
    Samantha Dittrich – Division of Global HIV/AIDS, USA/Barbados
    Loida Erhard – Division of Global HIV/AIDS, Ethiopia
    Jennifer Lim – Division of Global HIV/AIDS, Cameroon
    Leah Zilversmit – Division of Global HIV/AIDS, Mozambique

  • ASPH/CDC Public Health Fellowship Program
    Martha Bose – National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio
    Samantha Dolan – National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Atlanta
    Janelle Hartman – National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Atlanta
    Amanda Maud Jones – National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Atlanta

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Faculty retirements

john boring  

John Boring with Dean Curran


Congratulations to John Boring and Colleen DiIorio upon their retirement. Together, they have contributed 74 years of service to Emory.

John Boring
This summer Boring attained the status of professor emeritus of epidemiology after 46 years of teaching at Emory. He came to Emory in 1966 by way of the CDC, where he served with the Epidemic Intelligence Service and later as a senior scientist with expertise in microbiology. Tom Sellers, then chair of Emory's Department of Preventive Medicine, invited him to teach epidemiology in the School of Medicine. The field of epidemiology was just coming into its own, and Boring taught students what he calls "denominator science"—known today as evidence-based medicine.

Boring later became one of the "midwives" to Rollins. In the mid-1970s, he taught in the master's of community health program, the genesis of the RSPH. Some years later, when the School of Medicine created the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Boring led the epidemiology division as part of the MPH program. After Rollins was established as a school in 1990, Boring chaired the Department of Epidemiology. Under his guidance the curriculum evolved, the doctoral program was formed, and enrollment grew.

In 2002, Boring stepped down as chair to teach full time at Rollins and in the School of Medicine, where he introduced a course on analytical medicine several years earlier. He also codirected the Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR) program, which he helped establish in 1998 for physicians who wanted to merge science and clinical practice.

Although Boring is officially retired, he will continue doing what he loves best: teaching students at Rollins and in the MSCR program. Read more.

colleen dilorio  

Colleen Dilorio

Colleen DiIorio
DiIorio, professor emerita of behavioral sciences and health education, has enjoyed a distinguished career in nursing and public health. She joined Emory in 1984 as a faculty member in the School of Nursing. Prior to and since joining Rollins in 1995, she has worked extensively to improve HIV prevention and adherence and self-management for HIV and epilepsy.

In her research on epilepsy, DiIorio was the founding principal investigator of the Managing Epilepsy Well (MEW) Network, supported by CDC. This network includes Emory, the University of Michigan, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and the University of Washington. DiIorio also developed Project EASE, a psychosocial model for epilepsy medication management. With funding from CDC, she extended it to WebEase, a web-based self-management program to improve quality of life for epilepsy patients and their families.

This past summer, the Epilepsy Foundation released WebEase in partnership with CDC, which funded its development through the Prevention Research Centers and Epilepsy Program. DiIorio developed and tested the program with input from Rollins faculty members Cam Escoffery and Nancy Thompson. Sandra Helmers, an Emory neurologist, now manages the program.

Last spring, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report that looks at the public health dimensions of epilepsy and makes recommendations for improving patients' quality of life. DiIorio was invited to give testimony in its preparation. The report—Epilepsy Across the Spectrum: Promoting Health and Understanding—highlights research by the MEW Network, now led by Thompson.

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Upcoming Events
*View all Rollins events on our new online calendar

Silver LEED Certification Reception | Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
October 16, 2012
4 to 6 p.m. | Lawrence P. and Ann Estes Klamon Room
Hosted by RSPH, S/L/A/M Collaborative, and Whiting-Turner Contracting Company

Public Health Grand Rounds
October 19, 2012
Noon – 1 p.m. | Rollins Auditorium
Lecturer: Chirag Patel, Stanford University School of Medicine

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Campaign Emory
Campaign Emory

RSPH campaign exceeds goal by $15 million

Since reaching our $150 million Campaign Emory goal a year ago, the RSPH has continued to attract transformative gifts from generous donors. To date, we have raised more than $165 million—110.1% of our goal—and helped the Woodruff Health Sciences Center raise $1.11 billion—103.9% of its $1.07 billion goal. Campaign Emory officially concludes on December 31. There's still time to be part of this historic effort to support scholarships, teaching and research, programs, and facilities. To learn more, visit Campaign Emory.

Campaign Emory

To view The Dean’s Letter online, visit our web page.To submit news items for future issues, please contact Tarvis Thompson-Pace, Rollins Communications Manager, at 727-3516 or tthomp8@emory.edu, or Pam Auchmutey in Health Sciences Publications at 712-9265 or pam.auchmutey@emory.edu.

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