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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

UNC Professor Recognized as HERO for Leadership in Workplace Health

Dr. Laura Linnan, professor of health behavior and associate dean for academic and student affairs at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, was honored with the 2016 Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) Mark Dundon Research Award on September 26 at a HERO Forum in Atlanta.

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[Photo: Dr. Laura Linnan (second from right) accepts the 2016 HERO research award from (l-r) Dr. Ron Goetzel, chair of the HERO board of directors; Mr. Philip Swayze, the awards committee chair, and Dr. Paul Terry, president and chief executive officer of HERO.]

Dr. Linnan, who also is research program director for the Carolina Collaborative for Research on Work and Health, was recognized for her efforts to enhance and promote research that advances the science of employee health management.

During her research career, Dr. Linnan has led more than 35 successful intervention or evaluation trials in the field, funded by organizations including the National Cancer Institute, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Cancer Society.

“This award recognizes the impact that applied research experts such as Laura Linnan have in our evolving workplace health and well-being industry,” said Mr. Paul Terry, president and chief executive officer of HERO. “Laura’s rigorous and comprehensive approach to evaluating workplace interventions is impressive. Her interest in translating public health research results for improvements in workplaces and communities is the type of real-world practice and policy change we need to advance our field.”

With years of public health practice experience at the county, state and national levels, Dr. Linnan’s academic research work has focused on developing and testing innovative, multi-level interventions designed to prevent chronic diseases – such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and diabetes – and their related behavioral risks. Dr. Linnan has worked collaboratively with partners to design effective interventions that improve physical activity, promote healthy eating, smoking cessation and weight loss and which create healthier work environments.

She led the team that published the results of the 2004 national survey of worksite health promotion and currently leads the team of experts developing the Workplace Health in America national survey of employers.

She has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles on worksite health promotion and other community intervention trials. Dr. Linnan is also principal investigator of the CDC-funded Coordinating Center of the Workplace Health Research Network.

“We’re really proud of the recognition Dr. Linnan has received for her research on worksite health promotion,” said Dr. Barbara K. Rimer, dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor at the Gillings School. “With working people spending more and more time on their jobs, and increasingly, juggling multiple responsibilities at home and at work, the workplace is an important location for health promotion. It is good economics, important for morale, and effective workplace-based interventions can make a significant difference in health. Laura’s career is a testimony to her belief in the power of these interventions, her skill in developing them and the rigor of her science in evaluating them.”

HERO, based in Edina, MN, is a not-for-profit corporation established in 1996 and dedicated to identifying and sharing best practices that improve the health and well-being of workers and their families. Each year, the HERO Workplace Health and Well-being Awards honor dedication and commitment to the field of workplace health and acknowledge outstanding achievements in leadership and research in the area.

The Mark Dundon Research Award, named for HERO’s co-founder and former board chair, is presented annually to the professional who most closely embodies Dundon’s outstanding work in health research.