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Rollins names new professor of environmental health

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Paige Tolbert, PhD,  Rollins Professor of Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health.

Paige Tolbert, PhD, has been appointed Rollins Professor of Environmental Health at the Rollins School of Public Health.  The professorship was made possible through the generous support of the Rollins Family, which led to the establishment of the O. Wayne and Grace Crum Rollins Endowment Fund.

For 20 years, Tolbert has served as a member of the Rollins School of Public Health faculty. She has guided and expanded the Department of Environmental Health as its chair since 2007. Under her leadership, the department has doubled in size, adding new faculty in areas critical to tackling environmental health challenges of the future. 

Newly hired faculty work in a variety of important areas: bench scientists are making use of the school’s new state-of-the-art laboratory facilities to conduct mechanistic work on pathogenesis of disease, including endocrine disruption and gene-environment interactions, and to perform cutting-edge exposure science using biomarkers; other new faculty work with "big data" on climate and other global change and disease ecology using remote sensing and other tools; and still others are focused on global safe water and sanitation issues. 

The department recently introduced a doctoral program in environmental health sciences, and earlier this year, the department was awarded an Environmental Health Sciences Core Center by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Prior to coming to Emory, Tolbert earned a BA in biochemistry from Harvard University and a doctorate in epidemiology from UNC-Chapel Hill, and did post-doctoral training at the Harvard School of Public Health. Since joining the Rollins School of Public Health, she has established an active research program in environmental epidemiology. Tolbert has been leading a team of colleagues in research examining associations between air quality and emergency room visits to Atlanta hospitals for respiratory and cardiac problems, a 15-year study supported by NIH, EPA and other funding agencies. In partnership with Georgia Tech, she currently co-directs the Southeastern Center for Air Pollution and Epidemiology, one of four national EPA-funded Centers for Clean Air Research.

"It is my pleasure to announce our new Rollins Professor of Environmental Health," says James Curran, MD, MPH, dean of the Rollins School of Public Health. "Dr. Tolbert has built a national reputation as an expert and leader in her field. It is only fitting that she receive this honor made possible by the generosity of the Rollins family."

The Rollins family relationship with Emory University began in the 1960s. In 1994, Emory recognized the family’s many years of philanthropy by naming the Rollins School of Public Health in their honor. The generosity of the Rollins family made possible the school’s first permanent home, the Grace Crum Rollins building, which opened in 1995. In 2007, the family underscored their commitment to the school by pledging the lead gift for the Claudia Nance Rollins Building.

"I am extremely grateful for this honor," says Tolbert. "This professorship will enable further advancements in environmental health at Rollins, Emory, and globally. It will allow me the opportunity to foster new lines of research and pursue important departmental initiatives."

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