Betsy Sleath, Ph.D., is a contented, albeit very busy woman. She’s taken in a lot of changes and taken on some larger responsibilities that weren’t in her original career and life plans. Yet she describes them with a candor laced with a sense of humor that helps demonstrate why she is able to manage it all. That and her devotion to team work.
This might explain, in part, how a young girl who planned to be a community pharmacist in a small town in Connecticut wound up in academia wearing a virtual rack full of hats.
Sleath, as new chair of the Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, also leads two major NIH grants, one on asthma and one on glaucoma, both dealing with device or medication use. Her interest in Latino health inspires her work within the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute, UNC’s NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA).
These various roles stem from life experience: She remembered her mother’s diabetic coma as a young child and began to wonder how doctors communicate with patients about their disease. Her mother also served as a role model working as a clerk in a community pharmacy.
An elective course in pharmacy school led to a double-major in pharmacy and sociology. Her preference for people contact over labs led her to work in provider-patient communication and, thus, her research program.
“My main motivation is to be able to help people like my mom,” she says.