A sad day for UNC; Minority health conference especially important

Dr. Jessie Satia dead at 39

We are so disheartened by the passing of Jessie Satia, PhD, Associate Professor in the departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology and Special Assistant to the Dean for Diversity. Jessie had built a national reputation for her research on health disparities, especially in areas such as colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. She had a strong global presence, not surprising for someone who grew up in Cameroon and whose accomplished parents worked internationally. She served on an AHRQ study section, was PI on several grants, mentored students and so much more. Her active role in helping to make the School more diverse, particularly in terms of faculty, is one I am going to miss deeply.

I first got to know Jessie about seven years ago. She had left the School to work at Amgen. With the chairs of Nutrition and Epidemiology, I recruited her back to UNC where I knew she would make major contributions. She was well on her way. Jessie and I became even closer over the last two years, when she became increasingly ill. We talked about her hopes and dreams, her love for her family and her bedrock commitment to her research projects. ┬áJessie was very close to her parents Benedict and Philomena and had recently created a scholarship in their name. As one of three sisters, I can only begin to imagine how I’d be affected by the loss of a sibling. When I called the Satia’s phone today and got Jessie’s sobbing sister, I could barely keep from crying myself.

A private person, Jessie did not share much about her illness. When I visited her in the hospital last summer, she had her laptop at hand. I worried about her, helped her find doctors, brought her food, as did many others at the School (Nutrition did a great job of organizing help.), and talked with her regularly. Others helped by driving Jessie to appointments, going shopping and the like. Lynne Brody was heroic in the way she reached out to Jessie. We are a community, and when one of our own is ill, we come together in remarkable ways.

Jessie was way too young to have died. She should have had many productive but also enjoyable and satisfying years ahead of her.

Minority Health Conference is almost here!

Register this week for the Minority Health Conference! Rates go up after February 12. Don’t miss out on a great event. This year’s topic is especially salient.

The Minority Student Caucus will be holding its 31st Annual Minority Health Conference Friday, February 26 at the Friday Center. The conference theme this year is “Building Community in the Age of Information: Fighting Health Inequality in the Modern World.” It’s hard to imagine a much more interesting, timely and relevant topic!

Dr. Robert Fullilove, Professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health will be the keynote speaker. His talk, “Community Organizing and Community Building: Public Health Watchwords for the 21st Century” is sure to be fascinating and provocative. (His keynote will also be broadcast online at 2 pm on Feb 26). See a youtube video of Dr. Fullilove in action.

Dr. Fullilove will kick off a great day of sessions and poster exhibitions, including a presentation by CeaseFire, a hands-on health literacy workshop, and a presentation by Minister Robert L. Campbell, co-founder and president of the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association. I am so awed by what the association is doing, in partnership with our Engineers without Borders and other organizations.

Be well and keep Jessie Satia’s family in your thoughts and prayers. Barbara

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