Professor Penny Gordon-Larsen was appointed interim vice chancellor for research on March 14, 2022. She previously served as the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Healthʼs associate dean for research, a position she held since September 2018. In that role, she provided intellectual and strategic leadership and vision for the schoolʼs research programs and activities, positioning her well to take on oversight of UNC-Chapel Hill’s research enterprise.
“I can’t say enough about how excited I am to work with researchers from across Carolina — from the humanities, to bench science, to clinical studies,” said Gordon-Larsen. “I am fortunate to have already collaborated with investigators spanning our full campus, with the associate deans for research, and with institute and center directors in my previous campus leadership roles.”
Gordon-Larsen is trained as a human biologist whose research focuses on issues related to ethnicity, disparities, and development of obesity over the lifecycle, with attention to pathways linking environment and behavior to cardiometabolic risk. Her portfolio ranges from molecular and genetic to environmental and societal-level factors that influence health, and she collaborates with other researchers from across the university and beyond. She holds the Carl Smith Chamblee Distinguished Professorship of Global Nutrition in the nutrition department, which is jointly housed in the School of Public Health and the School of Medicine. Additionally, she is a fellow in the Carolina Population Center.
As vice chancellor, Gordon-Larsen is responsible for setting strategic priorities for research and for overseeing the administrative offices within the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (OVCR), which manage proposals and awards, provide research infrastructure, identify and manage funding opportunities, and develop collaborative research teams and partnerships. And as principal investigator of the Obesity Hub – an inaugural winner of the OVCR’s Creativity Hubs initiative – she’s no stranger to interdisciplinary collaboration and broad impact.
“I am eager to learn more, collaborate on efforts, and support our researchers to achieve great things for North Carolina and the world,” she added. “ I look forward to working with stakeholders across campus to endlessly pursue research rigor, excellence, and innovation!”