Dr. Barbara K. Rimer, Alumni Distinguished Professor and dean of the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, was honored with the UNC-Chapel Hill General Alumni Association’s Faculty Service Award last week.
Dean Rimer’s illustrious career can be divided into three phases. Early on, she was a world-class researcher and educator. The textbook she co-authored — “Health Behaviors: Theory, Research and Practice, now in its fifth edition” — is an international reference in the field.
Next came her work in government. As division director of the National Cancer Institute, she initiated new directions for population health that still guide the nation’s cancer control research goals. She improved the rate of women getting mammograms through her understanding of genetic predisposition that would identify who was likely to get breast cancer. Her risk communication skills and expertise in shifting health behaviors enabled her to convey that scary information without raising fear and, instead, to encourage patients to simply do what they needed to do.
Finally, as a University administrator, she is one of UNC’s longest-serving deans. Currently in her third term, she mentors and creates careers for young people. While her research pertains to cancer, evidence-based public health, health behavior, health communication and human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination, she keeps on top of where the entire public health field is going. Plowing through innumerable journal articles on her ever-present laptop, she moves the Gillings School forward into that space.
To this day, Dean Rimer leads by example. Service is what she does and who she is. Through the environment she creates at the Gillings School, she hopes to spread the word that public health is a proud, noble profession.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on January 24