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Brody School of Medicine
Department of Public Health


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Research and Grants
Stephanie Jilcott Pitts, PhD
Reducing Health Disparities in Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease
Principal Investigator: Alice Ammerman, DrPH, RD Co-PI's: Thomas Keyserling, MD; Stephanie Jilcott Pitts, PhD; Doyle Cummings, PharmD
Sponsor: UNC – Chapel Hill – Subcontract to East Carolina University
The goal of this project is to propose an integrated set of three interdisciplinary studies in Lenoir County to: 1) determine genetic factors associated with CVD risk; 2) understand the multilevel determinants of poor health outcomes and the potential social and community capital that can support sustainable change; 3) work with community leaders, health professionals, and citizens to apply these understandings to improved practice-based management of hypertension and community-centered lifestyle management, and test the impact on improving outcomes and reducing disparities in cardiovascular health among 700 participants.
 
Screening & Referral for Chronic Disease and Associated Risk Factors
Principal Investigators: Thomas Keyserling, MD and Stephanie Jilcott Pitts, PhD
Sponsor: UNC – Chapel Hill – Subcontract to East Carolina University
The goal of this project is to incorporate a feasible and effective cardiovascular disease reduction lifestyle intervention into the existing family planning services at Pitt County Health Department. The project will include three phases: Program Planning and Protocol Development, Implementation, and Analysis, Report-writing, and Dissemination.
 
Engaging Local Stakeholders in Obesity Prevention Policy Change
Co-PIs: Stephanie Jilcott Pitts, PhD and AliceAmmerman, DrPH, RD
Sponsor: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The center's aims are to advance nutrition and obesity policy research, evaluation, and impact by (1) creating a multidisciplinary team of investigators, (2) collaborating with the NOPREN Coordinating Center, NOPREN workgroups, and CDC program staff, (3) collaborating with community-based organizations and public health departments, (4) conducting policy and evaluation research, and (5) translating and disseminating findings.
 
North Carolina Community Transformation Grant Farmers Market Evaluation
Co-PIs: Stephanie Jilcott Pitts, PhD and Alice Ammerman, DrPH, RD
Sponsor: NC DPH
The goal of this project is to evaluate the process and impact of the CTG state-wide, federally-funded initiative (farmers' markets component) regarding dietary intake as well as the adoption and implementation of specific farmers' market enhancements.
 
N. Ruth Little, MPH
Community Health Coach Implementation
Principal Investigator: Ruth Little, MPH
Co-PI: Constance Foushee, MPH
Sponsor: Access East, KBR Sub award
The goal of this project in partnership with Access East, Community Care Plan Eastern Carolina and Edgecombe Community College is to train individuals in a 96 hour curriculum with measureable competencies and skills testing their effectiveness as a new member of the health care team focusing on prevention and fundamental health education. These individuals, serving as patient navigators connect participants with medical homes and have capacity to reduce emergency room visits and hospital admissions. The curriculum is being translated to Edgecombe Community College and subsequently available throughout the state in 2014.
 
Food Literacy Partners Program
Principal Investigator: Ruth Little, MPH
Co-PI: Constance Foushee, MPH
Sponsor: Vidant Medical Foundation
The Food Literacy Partners Program seeks to increase the food, nutrition and physical activity knowledge of volunteers and health professionals who work with diverse populations in Pitt County including church groups, community organizations and community members. We also provide volunteers an opportunity to practice and improve their fundamental food preparation and nutrition education skills while ensuring culturally and educationally sensitive approaches to providing participant education.
 
Long Term Care Training Continuum
Co-Principle Investigators: Dr. Lloyd Novick and Ruth Little, MPH
Sponsor: The Duke Endowment
This practiced based Long Term Care Administration Training Continuum in partnership with Eastern AHEC, College of Nursing and Allied Health progresses students through a tailored design from a variety of degree backgrounds toward the ultimate goal of licensure as a Long Term Care Administrator with an MPH degree. Currently practicing long term care administrators and executives also receive their MPH degree understanding the important role of aging and long term care in public health. We have graduated both previously and currently newly licensed administrators to date while provide a compliment of continuing education courses offered by EAHEC.
 
Faith Based Approach to Improving Community Health Status: Employment of a Uniform Training Curriculum: Connecting Communities to Medical Care
Co-Principle Investigators: Dr. Lloyd Novick & Ruth Little, MPH
Sponsor: Kate B. Reynolds Foundation
PROSPER: Preparing Ourselves for Spiritual and Physical Enrichment and Renewal is a faith based initiative working with minority populations in Edgecombe Duplin & Lenoir Counties disproportionately affected by stroke, diabetes and relation conditions. An 88 hour curriculum was employed for training lay health advisors within minority churches from diverse denominations collaborating with lead agency in each county and community advisory group facilitating participant improvements in their chronic disease management. A pastor’s coalition was formed as a result of pastors’ enthusiastic support of this initiative.
 
Faith Based Approach to Improving Community Health Status: Employment of a Uniform Training Curriculum: Connecting Communities to Medical Care
Principal Investigator: Ruth Little, MPH
Co-Principle Investigators: Constance Foushee, MPH
Sponsor: North Carolina Health & Wellness Trust Fund
PROSPER: Preparing Ourselves for Spiritual and Physical Enrichment and Renewal is a faith based initiative working with minority populations in Edgecombe Duplin & Lenoir Counties disproportionately affected by stroke, diabetes and relation conditions. An 88 hour curriculum was employed for training lay health advisors within minority churches from diverse denominations collaborating with lead agency in each county and community advisory group facilitating participant improvements in their chronic disease management. A pastor’s coalition was formed as a result of pastors’ enthusiastic support of this initiative.
 
Substance Abuse Prevention, Drug Free Communities
Principal Investigator: Ruth Little, MPH
Sponsor: Coastal Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention, subcontract from SAMSHA funding
Initiative providing project management and evaluation for CCSAP whose vision is to reduce underage drinking, promote responsible drinking for those of legal age and reduce the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. CCSAP serves the civilian and military populations in Jones, Craven, Pamlico, Onslow and Carteret Counties in eastern North Carolina. Through community education, CCSAP partners with military, colleges, schools, law enforcement, public health agencies, hospitals, pharmacies, health care providers, environmental organizations, community non-profits, faith community, parents and local citizens to promote the safe usage, storage and disposal of prescription drugs and reduction in underage drinking and responsible drinking for adults.
 
Harold H. Bate Public Health Scholars
Principal Investigator: Ruth Little, MPH
Sponsor: The Harold H. Bate Foundation
Project supports paid internships for MPH students working in Jones, Craven and Lenoir Counties. Students are mentored working by community public health partners to facilitate public health improvements while providing students community engagement opportunities.
 
Greg Kearney, DrPH, MPH
Healthy Homes Assessment Project
Principal Investigator: Greg Kearney, DrPH, MPH
Sponsor: NC Department of Health and Human Services
This continuing project involves developing an electronic database assessment instrument for collecting and managing assessment data from participating N.C. DHHS sub-grantees. The sub-grantees are tasked with assisting in the elimination and/or controlling of all identified lead hazards and other home related hazards in housing units involving low to very-low income families with children under six years of age.
 
Sun Protection Behaviors among Hispanic Farmworkers in Eastern NC
Co-PIs: Greg Kearney, DrPH, MPH and Charles Phillips, MD
Sponsor: Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention (NIOSH)
This project is currently working towards: 1) assessing farmworkers behavior, knowledge and attitudes of sun safety and skin cancer from ultraviolet radiation from the sun, and 2) developing a training program to provide culturally appropriate, evidence-based education and outreach material that can be implemented to avoid acute illnesses caused by sun burn and health dangers from excessive solar UVR.
 
Reducing Asthma among Low-income Children in Edgecombe County (Eastern Carolina Asthma Prevention Program)
Principal Investigator: Greg Kearney, DrPH, MPH
Sponsor: Vidant Edgecombe Hospital Development Council and Vidant Health Foundation
The Eastern Carolina Asthma Prevention Project is a collaborative effort between ECU and Vidant Medical to strengthen current asthma services offered by Vidant Edgecombe by conducting in-depth comprehensive respiratory, health behavioral and environmental assessment of the asthmatic child and their home.
 
Nancy Winterbauer, PhD, MS
Use and Impact of the County Health Rankings in North Carolina
Principal Investigator: Nancy Winterbauer, PhD
Co-PIs: Katherine Jones, PhD; Mary Tucker-McLaughlin, PhD; Ann Rafferty, PhD
Sponsor: University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The purpose of this research is to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of the County Health Rankings in North Carolina (NC) counties, as well as the context and processes that shape their potential for impact. The specific aims of this research are to: 1. Describe how the Rankings have been used by NC counties and what their impact has been over time; 2. Describe contextual elements related to use and impact of the Rankings, particularly with regard to structural aspects of the local health department (LHD) and community collaborations; 3. Describe the role of the media in influencing the use and impact of the Rankings in NC counties; and 4. Draw on similar work conducted in Florida (FL) to compare NC and FL Rankings data.
 
Eric Bailey, PhD, MPH
Ethnic and Rural Health Disparities Certificate
Principal Investigator: Eric Bailey, PhD, MPH
Sponsor: Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA); Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
This graduate certificate program in ethnic and rural health disparities at East Carolina University uses the latest online technology to assist public health and medical professionals in obtaining additional expertise in ethnic and rural health disparities. The major objective for the online certificate program is to train graduate students in developing more culturally competent projects/proposals which are designed for specific ethnic and rural communities in North Carolina, the United States and communities around the world.
 
Jimmy Efird, PhD, MSc
Behavioral or Social Intervention Planning and Pilot Data Grant
Co-PIs: Jimmy Efird, PhD; Richard Niederman, DMD; Claudio Niggs, PhD; Thomas Valente, PhD
Sponsor: NIDCR
This is an R34 planning grant in preparation for a U01 contract. The goal is to improve oral health among grade-school children by improving the effectiveness and reach of school based caries prevention programs by using after-school care based social networks.