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Dean Curran  

Dean James W. Curran

Facing a world of change

My end-of-the-year message typically highlights some of the accomplishments we’ve made as a school and encourages the Rollins community to aim for new heights in the New Year. However, the devastating tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, and the terrible storms that battered mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states last month remind us that the world can change in an instant. And it becomes even more apparent how we are inextricably connected.

Those who lived or grew up near Newtown or some of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy are dealing with loss in ways that many of us can never imagine. I hope that the Rollins community has been a place that links you to valuable resources, listens willingly to your concerns and frustrations, and provides a shoulder on which you can lean. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

The public health aspects of these recent events are readily apparent. Rollins continues to excel in training professionals who can respond to emergencies; address environmental concerns caused by natural disasters, such as contaminated water and disease outbreak; issue a call for action around the proliferation of handguns and automatic weapons; and raise awareness about the inadequacy of health care for mental illness.

In this season of giving and hope, I remain optimistic that Rollins faculty, staff, students, and alumni are bound by their passion to safeguard the health and well being of others, here in the United States and around the world.

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CEPH board renews school accreditation

The RSPH received much-anticipated good news this fall when the Council of Education for Public Health (CEPH) Board of Councilors extended the school’s accreditation through December 13, 2019. Rollins received a 'met' finding on all 27 criteria evaluated.

“Meeting each criterion means that we have rigorously evaluated the quality and content of our instruction, research, and service programs,” says Richard Levinson, executive associate dean for academic affairs and leader of the accreditation process.

Reaccreditation concludes a process that began in fall 2010, when a steering committee comprised of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community partners was formed to ensure broad representation in the self-assessment process. Supporting this committee was a seven-member working group that created the self-study report, which was submitted in final form to CEPH this past March.

In April, a team of reviewers conducted an on-site visit at Rollins to validate the self-study findings. They interviewed a host of individuals in and outside of the Rollins community, inspected the school’s facilities, examined documentation supporting the self-study, and prepared a report of its findings.

“The CEPH site visit team was very impressed by the quality of our self-study and recognized the tremendous effort invested in the process by the steering committee and all members of the Rollins community,” says Laura Lloyd, who played a major role as coordinator for the RSPH self-assessment.

Copies of the CEPH report are available from Levinson.

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NIH awards up to $19.4 million for malaria research

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has awarded a five-year contract up to $19.4 million, depending on contract options exercised, to establish the Malaria Host-Pathogen Interaction Center (MaHPIC). The consortium includes researchers at Emory, with partners at the University of Georgia, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the CDC. Yerkes National Primate Research Center will administer the contract.

The MaHPIC team will use a comprehensive research approach of systems biology to study and catalog in molecular detail how malaria parasites interact with their human and animal hosts. This knowledge will be fundamental to developing and evaluating new diagnostic tools, antimalarial drugs, and vaccines for different types of malaria. The project will integrate data generated by malaria research, functional genomics, proteomics, lipidomics, and metabolomics cores via informatics and computational modeling cores.

The principal investigator is Mary Galinski, professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the School of Medicine, professor of global health at Rollins, and director of Emory’s International Center for Malaria Research, Education & Development. She has led malaria research projects at the Emory Vaccine Center and Yerkes for 15 years. Read more.  

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Jane Fonda Center leads partnership on sexual health

Jessica Scales  

Jessica Sales


The School of Medicine's Jane Fonda Center will partner with Rollins and Grady Health System's Teen Services Clinic to design, implement, and evaluate a clinic-based intervention to improve the use of "dual protection" in young African American females. The five-year, $3.2 million grant is a collaboration with the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

"Dual protection means taking steps to prevent both unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV," says Melissa Kottke, assistant professor in Emory's Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics and principal investigator.

Jessica Sales, assistant professor of behavioral sciences and health education at RSPH, is the co-principal investigator for this initiative. "One of the most exciting aspects of this project is that it merges the best of health behavior research and clinical services," says Sales. "It will be rewarding to see the impact of providing cutting-edge clinical care coupled with what we've seen can work from behavior change models." Read more.

These grants are among more than 20 new grants awarded to faculty for research and training from September to November 2012. View the complete list here.

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Study examines HPV vaccine and sexual activity in girls

In the first study examining clinical markers of sexual activity after receiving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil, researchers at Emory and Kaiser Permanente found no association between the vaccine and an increase in sexual activity among girls. The results were published online (October 2012) in the journal Pediatrics.

The study, an independent research project funded by Kaiser Permanente and Emory, included 1,398 girls ages 11 to 12 who were members of the Kaiser Permanente health plan in Georgia in 2006 and 2007, during the first 18 months after Gardasil became available.  

"Our study found a very similar rate of testing, diagnosis, and counseling among girls who received the vaccine and girls who did not. We saw no increase in pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, or birth control counseling—all of which suggest the HPV vaccine does not have an impact on increased sexual activity," says lead author Robert Bednarczyk, an epidemiologist in RSPH's Hubert Department of Global Health and a clinical investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research–Southeast.  

Bednarczyk's coauthors include Saad B. Omer with RSPH and the Health and Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research–Southeast; Kevin Ault and Walter Orenstein, with Emory School of Medicine; and Robert Davis, senior investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. Read more.

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Illustrating a Point: mental health poster series opens


Drowning in Emotion by
Rachel Hudson


On December 5, the RSPH hosted an opening reception for the mental health series of Illustrating A Point, a practicum for students from the Atlanta-based Portfolio Center who create posters on a selection of public health topics. Past topics in the series included handwashing and obesity.

Mary Campbell, the creative director for Illustrating A Point, and student designers from the Portfolio Center were on hand for the reception along with nearly 100 guests. The mental health poster series is displayed on the Claudia Nance Rollins Building side of the bridge. Obesity posters are now located in the Claudia Nance Rollins Building stairwell; handwashing posters are in various restrooms in both buildings and on the first floor of the Grace Crum Rollins Building.

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Faculty appointments and promotions

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


  • Epidemiology
    Terryl Hartman, Professor (with tenure)


  • Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
    Brent Johnson, from Assistant to Associate Professor (with tenure)
    Tianwei Yu, from Assistant to Associate Professor (with tenure)

  • Epidemiology
    Carolyn Drews-Botsch, from Associate Professor (with tenure) to Professor

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Michael Windle

Windle receives Rollins' first K05 award
Michael Windle, Rollins professor and chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, received a five-year grant of more than $1 million from NIH to continue his 23-year research examining the transitions in drinking status, indicators, and impact of alcohol use and disorders across the lifespan. A major component of this research will reveal the long-term implications of alcohol abuse in young adults.

Windle and his team of researchers will more closely study the implications of patterns of alcohol use and abuse on the next stage of life, adulthood. They will also examine earlier predictors such as the social, genetic, and environmental contributors of these alcohol-related behaviors. By studying behaviors and factors at each stage, they are able to proactively identify targets for effective interventions.

Windle is one of five Emory faculty members, and the only Rollins faculty member, to receive a K05 award from NIH.


Rey Martorell and Anura V. Kurpad


Martorell honored by India's nutrition society
Reynaldo Martorell, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of International Nutrition in the Hubert Department of Global Health, is the recipient of the 2012 Goapalan Gold Medal Award from the Nutrition Society of India. He received the award during the society's November 2012 annual meeting at Sri Venkateswara University in Tirupati. Anura V. Kurpa, president of the society, presented Martorell with the award for his high-caliber expertise in the field of food and nutrition, including agriculture, economics, sociology, and public health administration.

The award is named in honor of C. Goapalan, founder and president of the Nutrition Society of India. Established in 1967, the society disseminates the latest research results in nutrition, analyzes nutrition programs, recommends strategies to promote nutrition in communities, and provides a forum for young scientists to present their research findings.

CMPH program ranked No. 1 in the country
Rollins’ Career MPH program was ranked No. 1 among the top 20 online MPH programs in the United States by TheBestSchools.org, an independent organization that ranks colleges and degree programs in various categories. Led by Melissa Alperin, the CMPH program was ranked based on quality, types of courses offered, faculty, awards, rankings, and Rollins’ reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.

Among the online MPH programs ranked in the top 20 are the College of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Florida (No. 2) and the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (No. 3). Read more.


Amita Manatunga


Frank Wong


Faculty complete Emory Academic Leadership Program
Amita Manatunga, professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics, and Frank Wong, associate professor of behavioral sciences and health education and global health, recently graduated from the Emory Academic Leadership Program.

They are members of the third cohort of graduates, a select group of faculty members nominated by their respective deans. Over the past year, the 10 graduates participated in a series of activities designed to advance an interest in academic leadership among Emory's outstanding teachers, scholars, and institution builders.

Rollins well-represented in Woodruff Leadership Academy
Three members of the Rollins community have been named to the 2013 Woodruff Leadership Academy (WLA). David Howard, associate professor of health policy and management, Rob Stephenson, associate professor of global health, and Lisa Carlson 93MPH, director of academic affairs for Emory’s Department of Surgery, will begin the five-month program in January. Launched in 2003, the WLA builds managerial and technical expertise throughout Emory's health sciences community.

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Upcoming Events
*View all Rollins events on our online calendar

Public Health Sciences Grand Rounds
January 18, 2013
Noon – 1 p.m. | Rollins Auditorium
Lecturer: Edmund Becker, Rollins School of Public Health
Patient-Centered Care: What Factors Drive Outcomes in the Hospital Setting?

Spring Public Health Career Fair
February 8, 2013
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. | Emory Conference Center Hotel

Visit Emory 2013
March 21-22, 2013 | Rollins School of Public Health

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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 Creative Services at 712-9265 or pam.auchmutey@emory.edu.

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