Message from the Director

The Carolina Population Center (CPC) supports a diverse, productive, and innovative set of population scholars. These scholars co-reside with well-trained and ambitious predoctoral and postdoctoral students, and with a highly skilled and experienced staff. Working together this scientific community produces new data, methodological innovations, and research findings that enrich the field and inform policy.

CPCs research portfolio focuses on demography, sexual and reproductive health, and population health. CPC’s contributions in these areas are linked and strengthened by three cross-cutting research approaches that have historically distinguished, and continue to define, research at CPC: (1) multiple level in approach and multidisciplinary in collaboration, (2) longitudinal research design and analysis, and (3) planning/evaluation of policy interventions and institution building in complex settings.

These research approaches are embodied in CPC’s long-running signature projects: The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, the China Health and Nutrition Survey, and The Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey. These path-breaking data collections incorporate geo-spatial, bio-social and longitudinal data and relevant methodologies. As a result, they position CPC researchers on the cutting edge of the interdisciplinary study of social, biological, and environmental influences on population processes and health.

A fourth long-running CPC signature project is MEASURE Evaluation, now in years 16-20. The most recent MEASURE award is the largest ever received by UNC-CH (in excess of $180 million). MEASURE Evaluation is USAID’s flagship project to strengthen developing country health information systems. This project develops tools and approaches for rigorous evaluations. Then, with developing country partners, MEASURE Evaluation applies these tools and approaches to produce evidence on the success and unanticipated consequences of interventions. The primary goal of the current award is to strengthen health information systems so countries can identify health risks, make better decisions to confront them, and thus sustain good health outcomes over time.

Projects led by a new generation of scholars enrich CPC’s research portfolio. Examples include an innovative approach to sampling hard-to-reach populations (Network Sampling with Memory), evaluations of cash-transfer programs aimed at producing desired behaviors (like staying in school), and studying the negative health impacts of exposure to biomass smoke from household cooking (that accounts for nearly 2 million deaths annually).

CPC celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016/2017; this milestone provides an opportunity to remember our links to the past and to plan and invest in future research and their applications. CPC is a unique population center – its size (over 65 Fellows and over 300 faculty, students, postdocs, and staff with yearly grant expenditures above $60 million), its diverse membership (with roughly one-half of its Fellows from the UNC College of Arts and Sciences and one-half from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health), its pan-university institutional location (reporting to the Vice Chancellor for Research), its investment in large-scale data collection, and its collaborative and interdisciplinary culture will continue to define and distinguish CPC.

In 2017, CPC will relocate to a single location at the newly constructed Carolina Square, on the site of our former home, University Square. For the first time in decades, CPC’s population scientists, students, and staff will be housed in one space. This co-location close to the UNC campus will provide momentum to CPC’s efforts to advance interdisciplinary population science at UNC, nationally and internationally.

S. Philip Morgan, Alan Feduccia Distinguished Professor, Director of the Carolina Population Center

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