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UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health has appointed UNC Lineberger’s Kurt Ribisl, PhD, as chair of its health behavior department.

Kurt Ribisl, PhD, an expert in cancer prevention and control, has been named chair of the Department of Health Behavior at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

Kurt M. Ribisl, PhD, program leader for cancer prevention and control at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, was named chair of the Gillings School’s Department of Health Behavior.

Ribisl, a Gillings member since 1999, is a nationally recognized tobacco control researcher who has had a significant impact on tobacco policies at the local, state and national levels.

His work has focused on the regulation of the sales and marketing of tobacco products, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes and little cigars. He helped pioneer policies that set a minimum price for tobacco products and recently worked with New York City on their landmark minimum price regulation.

Ribisl also documented high rates of tax evasion and sales to minors online for both cigarettes and e-cigarettes. This work helped lead to federal policies banning internet tobacco sales to minors.

He has been extremely well-funded as a principal investigator from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among other organizations, and has authored more than 150 articles for publication in top public health and medical journals.

He completed his undergraduate training at Wake Forest University, his doctoral training at Michigan State University, and his postdoctoral training at Stanford University School of Medicine.

“I have great confidence in Dr. Ribisl,” said Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor at the Gillings School. “He is an innovative thinker, and an outstanding classroom teacher, adviser and mentor to our students with an excellent track record in this domain. He is committed to enhancing diversity and inclusion in the department and Gillings School.”

Rimer noted Ribisl’s impressive level of service at all levels — from department, to university, to advising key government agencies, including the N.C. DHHS, U.S. Department of Justice, Food and Drug Administration, CDC and NIH — and praised his commitment to working collaboratively with faculty and staff members and students in striving for academic excellence.

“His leadership will continue to move the outstanding health behavior department forward,” Rimer said, “and he will be a stellar senior leader at the Gillings School during a period in which we are making exciting changes Schoolwide to our academic programs.”

Ribisl succeeds Leslie Lytle, PhD, who has served as department chair since 2012. Lytle will continue on the faculty as professor of health behavior and of nutrition.

Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or