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Research Briefs

For immediate use

Nov 1, 2007

March of Dimes honors Siega-Riz for work in maternal-fetal nutrition

Anna Maria Siega-Riz, Ph.D., R.D., associate professor in the departments of epidemiology and nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Public Health, has received the March of Dimes Agnes Higgins Award.

The annual award recognizes distinguished achievement in research, education or clinical services in the field of maternal-fetal nutrition. Awardees receive a $3,000 prize and the invitation to present a lecture at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting.

This year’s meeting will be held Nov. 3-7, in Washington, D.C.  Siega-Riz will present a lecture, “Maternal Obesity: The Number One Problem Facing Prenatal Care Providers in the New Millennium,” on Monday (Nov. 5).

Siega-Riz’s research interests include maternal nutritional status and its relationship to birth outcomes, gestational weight gain and obesity development, and reproductive epidemiology. She is co-investigator on an epidemiological study examining the role of infection, stress, physical activity and nutrition on preterm births.

For a photo of Siega-Riz, visit

School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, (919) 966-7467 or


UNC child development institute focuses on Latino families for national study

Researchers from Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will study families across North Carolina as part of a three-year project funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The study will examine issues Latino families face in taking advantage of child care programs and services. Researchers will gather data from 450 families in North Carolina. In addition, they will collect program information and observe practices in 120 child care programs.

“Efforts focused solely on increasing Latino families’ access to child care will not be enough to close the achievement gap,” said Dina Castro, the FPG study’s principal investigator. “Child care programs need to provide high quality, culturally responsive and linguistically appropriate practices to promote optimal development among Latino children that will help them be ready to succeed in school.”

Research shows that high quality early care and education can have a positive impact on low-income children’s later school success. However, even among those who have attended child care, Latino children lag behind their peers when they enter kindergarten and the gap appears to widen as children grow older.

Latino families are less likely to take advantage of federal child care subsidy programs available to families living in poverty.

FPG contact: Tracy Zimmerman, (919) 966-0867 or

UNC institute garners five-year, multimillion-dollar EPA award

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has recently awarded a contract that could bring as much as $22 million to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute for the Environment and other partnering institutions over the next five years.

The goal of UNC-Chapel Hill’s work with the EPA is to ameliorate the effects of dangerous emissions to protect and improve human and ecosystem health.

The institute is a multidisciplinary program leading the University’s environmental community in educating practitioners, researching and solving global challenges, and informing people about critical issues.

The work done under the Emission, Air Quality and Meteorological Modeling Support contract will help the EPA determine the levels at which they should set federal air quality and emissions standards.

 A team of scientists working in the institute’s Center for Environmental Modeling for Policy Development will complete a range of projects that include designing computer software and performing extensive data analysis.

By mid-October, the EPA had assigned three projects with an initial commitment of $1.4 million. The University will collaborate with seven subcontractors to accomplish this critical work. About 40 percent of the work will be completed by organizations outside of the University.

“This is applied research that will touch the lives of the vast majority of people in North Carolina and around the country,” said Douglas Crawford-Brown, director of the UNC Institute for the Environment.

“The work of CEMPD unites the thinking of a wide community of scientists and policy analysts, creating a scientifically sound suite of models that can be used by states such as North Carolina to solve increasingly complex problems of air pollution,” he added.

Institute for the Environment contact: Tony Reevy, (919) 966-9927,