Our Mission

Our Department of Public Health is committed to educating professionals and conducting research to improve the health of communities in our region and beyond. We practice a combination of science and social approaches to reduce disease and systematically address the multiple determinants of health. Our work is rooted in strong partnerships with the community, health and social services, industry and business, academia, and the media.

News & Announcements

News & Announcements
Cristina Richie
Grand Rounds - September 26, 2018

The Department of Public Health sponsored Grand Rounds on September 26, 2018. Cristina Richie, PhD, Assistant Professor in Bioethics and Interdisciplinary Studies topic was "Climate Change and Public Health". The presentation was recorded and can be viewed here.

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Stephanie Jilcott Pitts
Food Access Among Low-Income Families
ECU Department of Public Health Professor, Dr. Stephanie Pitts worked with Dr. Michelle White and others from UNC-Chapel Hill, Cornell University, the University of Vermont, and Evergreen State University to examine perspectives of food access among low-income families participating in a cost-offset community-supported agriculture program (the Farm Fresh Foods for Healthy Kids (F3HK) Project). They found that participants enjoyed the ability to select their own produce items, and enjoyed flexible CSA pick-up times and locations. Unfamiliar foods and quick spoilage times made it harder for participants to use the produce provided. The results of this study can be used to inform future efforts to promote fresh produce consumption among families with constrained resources.

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Fei (Tommy) Gao
Recent MPH Grad Wins National Research Contest

Fei "Tommy" Gao is one of five winners in Preventing Chronic Disease (PCD) 2018 Student Research Paper Contest and one of two (co-winners) graduate student paper winners. Gao's paper was developed from his professional paper - a requirement for all ECU MPH students.

Preventing Chronic Disease (PCD) created a great opportunity for students to showcase their research. It is an encouragement for students to continue their research in the future. The faculty in the Department of Public strongly encourage and help their students to submit their professional papers for publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Huabin Luo (Department of Public Health), Dr. Ronny Bell (Department of Public Health), Dr. Katherine Jones (Department of Public Health), and Dr. Nicholson (UNC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology) were advisors on Mr. Gao's professional paper.


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J of Nutrition Ed and Behavior
Impact on Dietary Choices after Discount Supermarket Opens in Low-Income Community
“Drs. Pitts, Rafferty, Wu, and former MPH Graduate Dr. Jared McGuirt and a colleague from the University of South Carolina have a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, demonstrating that there was a lack of dietary change among residents when a new supermarket was added in Greenville, NC. However, they did find that the closer residents lived to the supermarket where they shopped, the greater their self-reported fruit and vegetable consumption. More research should be conducted to learn more about what exactly promotes greater fruit and vegetable purchase and consumption among consumers.”

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ECU School of Rural Public Health
ECU to establish School of Rural Public Health
East Carolina University has announced plans to establish a new School of Rural Public Health in August of 2020 after the plans were approved by the UNC System Board of Governors' Committee on Educational Planning, Policies, and Programs last week.

"The approval for the establishment of this new School of Rural Public Health is another example of how our health sciences division continues to pioneer exciting new grounds, as it will be only the second school devoted to public health in the state," said ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton.

The new school will initially combine departments and centers already in existence at ECU - public health, health education and promotion, biostatistics, health services and information management and the Center for Health Disparities. These departments are currently spread throughout three separate buildings on the university's two campuses - the Brody School of Medicine, the College of Allied Health Sciences and the College of Health and Human Performance.

Kimberly van Noort, the UNC System's interim senior vice president for academic affairs, said the system was particularly excited about ECU's new School of Rural Public Health because it fits nicely with the outreach to rural communities and rural students that is part of the Board of Governors' strategic plan.

"We feel that it's a very important step by East Carolina University to recognize and to honor both their mission and the needs of the people of their surrounding community that they serve," van Noort said. "They have long been a leader in public health in the eastern part of North Carolina and indeed serve as the model for the entire state."

Dr. Phyllis Horns, vice chancellor of ECU's Division of Health Sciences, said the new school gives ECU a way to renew its commitment to the health of eastern North Carolinians.

"This is the next logical step in ECU being able to meet its mission of service to the people in this region of the state," Horns said. "We'll be able to do it in a more concentrated and focused way, by bringing faculty and students together under one roof so they can address those compelling health problems and health disparities in our region."

Dr. Ronny Bell, professor and chair of Brody's Department of Public Health, said the rural focus of the new school of public health aligns nicely with ECU's Rural Prosperity Initiative and creates a niche for the university.

"This gives us the opportunity to set ourselves apart from the rest of the programs in the nation, but also align ourselves with the mission of the school," Bell said. "There has to be a public health workforce that is responsive to the unique issues here in eastern North Carolina, and we feel like ECU is the ideal place to train those individuals."

During the 2016-2017 school year, ECU granted 46 percent of the UNC System's public health baccalaureate degrees and 29 percent of the master's degrees in the field. University officials anticipate the new school will have an enrollment of approximately 1,800 students when it opens based on current enrollment and projected growth.

ECU's first four doctoral students in public health started in spring 2018 with a concentration in health policy, administration and leadership and another concentration in environmental and occupational health.

Dr. John Morrow, director of Pitt County's Department of Public Health, said that integrating public health with other health care services is "the new frontier of health care." But he said North Carolina is accustomed to being a leader in health care, starting the nation's first county health department approximately 100 years ago and continuing to boast some of the world's best health care opportunities.

"This new School of Rural Public Health continues that pattern of excellence for North Carolina, and East Carolina University is a place where we will be able to see it really flourish," Morrow said. "We've always had this challenge of addressing all the social factors that lead to poor health in rural areas. This is a promise of better things to come for the health of the people of rural North Carolina."

Source: East Carolina University News Services



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Taras Grinchak

Name: Taras Grinchak
Major: Master of Public Health in Epidemiology
College: Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine, ECU
Year in School: 2nd year

Research In The Region

A private funding source for research at ECU's Brody School of Medicine is supporting pediatric asthma research by Dr. Greg Kearney.

Council on Education for Public Health


The ECU MPH Program is nationally accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). A copy of our final self-study report (2012) and a subsequent interim report (2013) on compliance with all accreditation criteria are available here. To request a copy of our official accreditation reports, please contact Wanda Strickland at stricklandw@ecu.edu or by calling (252) 744-4037.