Harland Austin honored with named annual lecture

Harland Austin, professor of epidemiology, passed away October 10 at his home in Smoke Rise, Georgia, after a sudden illness. He was 62. Professor Austin was a part of our faculty for 23 years, concentrating in epidemiology methods. In his honor, the Department of Epidemiology has established the annual Harland Austin Lecture, which will feature distinguished speakers on topics related to epidemiology methods.

Narayan co-chairs U.S. Investigators' Symposium

Venkat Narayan, the Ruth and O.C. Hubert Professor of Global Health, together with colleagues from Duke University's Global Health Institute and Hubert-Yeargen Center, co-chaired the high-profile U.S. Investigators' Symposium on Global Noncommunicable Disease Research at the Emory Conference Center in September. The symposium brought 140 junior and senior faculty members from across the U.S. together with members of the NIH, CDC, Doris Duke Foundation, and other funding agencies to discuss the future of global noncommunicable disease research and to showcase the work of junior investigators.

Conference focuses on religion and public health

Scholars from a wide variety of disciplines convened at Rollins for a three-day conference to discuss the new book, Religion as a Social Determinant of Public Health (Oxford University Press, 2014). Edited by Ellen Idler, director of Emory's Religion and Public Health Collaborative, it includes the work of 35 scholars, including nine from Rollins: John Blevins (global health), Walter Burnett (health policy and management), Dean James Curran, Laurie Gaydos (health policy and management), Carol Hogue (epidemiology), Mimi Kiser (global health), Deborah McFarland (global health), Sandra Thurman (director, Interfaith Health Program), and Kathryn Yount (global health). Rollins Emeritus Presidential Distinguished Professor of International Health William Foege gave the conference's first keynote address.

Muslim wudu rooms opened

Two Muslim wudu/ablution rooms opened on November 12 on the first floor of the Claudia Nance Rollins Building. Wudu is a ritual washing in preparation for prayer. In addition, an interfaith prayer and meditation room opened on the same floor two weeks earlier.

Softball team wins CAUSE tournament

The RSPH softball team, comprised of faculty, students, and alumni, won the CAUSE (Communities of Atlanta United Through Sporting Events) League tournament. Sarah Blake (health policy and management), who has served as the team's general manager since its inception 10 years ago, proudly displays the trophy in her office.

One man's trash…

The Rollins Environmental Health Action Committee has organized a sustainable art display on the second floor of the Claudia Nance Rollins Building. Cuban-American painter Alejandro Caraballo agreed to design and create a series of 3D works made completely of recycled materials and garbage that came directly from the Rollins School of Public Health.

Livingston Foundation makes $200,000 gift

The Livingston Foundation, which made a $100,000 gift in 2012 to endow scholarships for doctoral students, recently made an additional gift of $200,000. This will make it possible to name a Livingston Fellow in each of our six doctoral programs each year. We thank the Livingston Foundation for its generosity.


Alawode Oladele 93MPH (epidemiology) received the 2014 Distinguished Achievement Award, given by the RSPH Alumni Association in recognition of lifetime career achievement. Oladele serves as the medical director for the DeKalb County Board of Health's Tuberculosis Program and is the CEO and president of Premiere International Health Care Inc., where he oversees a variety of HIV and community health projects in West, East, and Central Africa. Oladele is the creative force behind DeKalb County's "Public Health Student Adopt a Refugee Family" Program and the Global Initiative for the Advancement of Nutritional Therapy in Africa—an initiative he co-founded to help eliminate hunger and malnutrition through improved nutrition, better food access, and clean water across the continent.

Katie Wootten Deal 05MPH (behavioral sciences and health education) was awarded the 2014 Matthew Lee Girvin Award by the RSPH Alumni Association. As deputy secretary of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, Deal has worked to enhance the nation's suicide prevention infrastructure and help local practitioners and national leaders prioritize and address this important issue. In 2013, she was nominated as a White House Champion for Change for public health and prevention. 

Ken Thorpe, Robert W. Woodruff Professor and chair of health policy and management, was selected to receive the National Association of Chain Drug Stores' Excellence in Patient Care Award in recognition of his work to advance patient care.


Dec. 4: Global Field Experience silent auction, 12 p.m., Grace Crum Rollins Building, Rita Anne Rollins Room.

Dec. 4: The Normal Heart screening and discussion, 6 p.m., Woodruff Health Sciences Center Auditorium.

*View all Rollins events on the online calendar.

Fall 2014

The Ebola response

Dean James W. Curran

It's been three months since the first two patients to be treated for Ebola virus disease in the U.S. walked out of Emory University Hospital and back into their lives. I am proud of the response by Rollins faculty, adjuncts, alumni, and students, whose efforts have been prompt and far-reaching throughout the epidemic. Our September Public Health Grand Rounds, "Ebola at Emory: Patients to Populations," was standing room only as a panel of doctors and experts on the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa discussed treatment, health care infrastructure, and challenges to containment. Rollins faculty have been quoted extensively in media coverage of the epidemic, helping to educate the public on the disease and its spread. And many from Rollins have been involved in responding to the epidemic, both here and abroad. It would be impossible to mention everyone, but following is a sampling.

Carlos del Rio, Hubert Professor and chair of the Hubert Department of Global Health, consulted with the Mexican Ministry of Health on Ebola response.

Jim Zingeser, an adjunct professor (epidemiology) who is currently stationed in Rome with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, went to Sierra Leone to train local agriculture extension agents to provide education about Ebola and to encourage behavior change to stop the spread of the disease. The thinking behind the effort was that local extension agents are trusted by the local population, while foreign aid workers and health ministry officials often are not. Zingeser will return to Sierra Leone in November to see how well the program is working.

All 45 students in the Student Outbreak and Response Team (SORT) have been working with the CDC on an online mapping initiative to help fill in the many blanks on existing maps and note the locations of villages, roads, and health care facilities in West Africa. SORT students are also working at call centers to aid in contact tracing at the CDC's Emergency Operations Center and at the Georgia Department of Health.

Second-year MPH student Roxanne Moore (global epidemiology) is working with Standby Task Force, one of the 25 digital voluntary organizations that comprise the Digital Humanitarian Network. Moore mines data from the web to identify the locations of health facilities in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

Amanda Feldpausch 13MPH (global epidemiology) and Audrey Martyn Kunkes 11MPH (epidemiology) recruited 10 Rollins students to assist with the active monitoring program for all persons coming into Georgia from the three affected West African countries. Feldpausch and Kunkes are both with the Georgia Department of Public Health and have been assigned to the Ebola Epidemiology Response Team. The Rollins students do a mini risk assessment to ensure that information from Customs and Border Protection is correct, explain the importance of the self-monitoring program, and enroll travelers in an online entry program to self-monitor for symptoms or provide them with directions to report by phone if they cannot use the Internet.

Daniel Brencic 12MPH

Daniel Brencic 12MPH (global health) is a health scientist with the CDC's International Emergency Preparedness Team. He was deployed to Conakry, Guinea, where he worked with the Guinean government to develop their national Emergency Operations Center. Brencic plans to return to Guinea in December to continue his work.

Caitlyn (Cait) Lutfy 12MPH (global health), a health communications specialist with the CDC, is in Liberia in the Emergency Operations Center to conduct health promotion and social mobilization. Before she went to Liberia in October, Lutfy acted as a deputy team lead for health promotion in West Africa.

O. Wayne Rollins Foundation gives $10 million to RSPH endowment

The Claudia Nance Rollins and Grace Crum Rollins buildings

A recent $10 million gift from the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation will double the O. Wayne and Grace Crum Rollins Endowment Fund. Established in 1997, this unrestricted endowment provides support for the school's highest priorities, including recruiting and retaining key faculty leaders and student scholarships. Over the past quarter century, the Rollins family's exceptional generosity has enabled the school to build the Grace Crum Rollins and Claudia Nance Rollins buildings and recruit and retain key faculty leaders. I can't emphasize enough the value this unrestricted endowment has brought to our school, and we are extremely grateful.

Biostatistics celebrates 50th anniversary

Biostatistics department chairs, l-r: Lance Waller (2009-current), Michael Kutner (1990-1991 and 2004-2009), Donna J. Brogan (1992-1994), E.C. Hall (1970-1986), Raymond S. Greenberg (1988-1990), and Vicki S. Hertzberg (1995-2001)

The Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics celebrated its 50th anniversary in October. More than 170 people attended the conference and alumni reunion, including all but one of the department's past chairs, the department's first doctoral graduate, J. Wanzer Drane 67PhD, and the executive director of the American Statistical Association, Ron Wasserstein. During the afternoon session, each of the department chairs shared milestones during their tenure. Founding dean and former department chair Ray Greenberg gave memorable remarks at lunch and during the gala dinner. In addition, the second Michael H. Kutner Award for the Most Distinguished Graduate Student was given to Phebe Kemmer and a new award, the Michael H. Kutner Alumni Award for Distinguished Service to the Discipline, was given to Edward L. Frome 72PhD and David B. Dunson 97PhD. My thanks go out to former department chair Michael Kutner for organizing the celebration, raising the money to fund it, and even donating wine from his cellar. It was a memorable event in keeping with the distinguished history of the department.

Dr. Kathleen R. Miner Scholarship for Public Health Excellence awarded

Claire Peterson accepts the first Dr. Kathleen R. Miner Scholarship for Public Health Excellence award from Kathy Miner.

The first Dr. Kathleen R. Miner Scholarship for Public Health Excellence was awarded to second-year MPH student Claire Peterson (behavioral sciences and health education). The scholarship was established by former students of Kathy Miner 79MPH, associate dean of applied public health, as a way to thank and honor her. A committee led by self-proclaimed "Kathy's Kids"Dennis Jarvis 88MPH, Martha Alexander 86MPH, Nancy Hunt 87MPH, and Moose Alperin 91MPHhave raised more than $140,000 to establish the fund. Peterson was selected as the first recipient for exemplifying Miner's dedication to public health education and practice. I am delighted Miner has been honored in this way. She is a force in the field of public health and a tremendous asset to Rollins. Gifts to the fund may be made here.

New grants

Kevin Ward (epidemiology) was awarded $1.2 million by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to fund the Georgia Surveillance, Epidemiology & End Results (SEER) registry to continue its work in identifying cancer incidence, mortality, survival, and treatment patterns. The registry is part of the wider SEER program, established in 1973 by NCI as a primary source of U.S. cancer statistics.

Mohammed Ali (global health) was awarded $397,000 by NIH to study integrated care for co-morbid depression and diabetes in India. He will test whether interventions, such as providing a care navigator for patients and smart technology for physicians, can help integrate mental health care for depressed patients into routine diabetes care. The implications of the study could be vast, as approximately one-fifth of the millions of Indians who have diabetes also suffer from depression.

The Health Resources and Services Administration awarded Kathy Miner (behavioral sciences and health education) $1 million per year for four years to establish the Region IV Public Health Training Center. The center will provide training for the current public health workforce, advocate for public health systems and policies, and contribute to the national Public Health Training Center Network. It will focus its efforts on public health and other health professionals in governmental organizations that serve medically underserved populations in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Rollins faculty received many other grants for research and training from mid-April through October. View the complete list.

Appointments and promotions

New faculty
  • Robert A. Bednarczyk, Assistant Professor, Global Health

  • Kenneth G. Castro, Research Professor, Global Health

  • Derek Dumbuya, Instructor, Global Health

  • Sherman James, Research Professor, Epidemiology

  • Yi-An Ko, Research Assistant Professor, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics

  • Suprateek Kundu, Assistant Professor, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics

  • Felipe Lobelo, Associate Professor, Global Health

  • C. Christina Bahn Mehta, Research Assistant Professor, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics

  • Aaron Siegler, Research Assistant Professor, Epidemiology

  • Rachel N. Waford, Research Assistant Professor, Global Health

  • Kristin M. Wall, Research Assistant Professor, Epidemiology

  • Melissa Fox Young, Assistant Professor, Global Health

Faculty promotions
  • Cam Escoffery, Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education

  • Ying Guo, Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics

  • Penelope Howards, Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, Epidemiology

  • Yang Liu, Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, Environmental Health

  • Robert Lyles, Associate Professor to Professor, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics

  • Stefanie Ebelt Sarnat, Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, Environmental Health

  • Matthew Strickland, Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, Environmental Health

Staff additions and promotions
We added 26 new members to our staff and promoted 11 others. View the complete list.
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