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Tolbert Named Rollins Professor of Environmental Health

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Paige Tolbert

During the 20 years she has been at Rollins, Paige Tolbert has built a national reputation as an expert in environmental epidemiology. This fall, Tolbert was named a Rollins Professor to further her work in the field. She is now one of several faculty members who hold professorships, funded through the O. Wayne and Grace Crum Rollins Endowment Fund.

Tolbert has guided 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 the environmental health challenges of the future. Among them are bench scientists conducting mechanistic work on pathogenesis of disease, exposure scientists developing cutting-edge biomarkers, public health ecologists using "big data" to study climate and other global change, and researchers focused on global safe water and sanitation. The department recently introduced a doctoral program in environmental health sciences and earlier this year was designated an Environmental Health Sciences Core Center by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

In recent years, Tolbert and her colleagues have led a major study to examine the associations between air quality and emergency room visits to Atlanta hospitals for respiratory and heart problems. She currently codirects the Southeastern Center for Air Pollution and Epidemiology in partnership with Georgia Tech. Center researchers are using new approaches to characterize ambient air pollution mixtures and determine the risks they pose to human health. The results of such studies help shape new policies and laws to safeguard health.

Her new Rollins professorship will enable Tolbert to advance environmental health at the RSPH, Emory, and beyond. "Resources and time are always major constraints," she says. "The Rollins professorship will give me the flexibility to foster new lines of research and pursue important departmental initiatives." 

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