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Headshot of GCPR board member Dr. Geni Eng Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health

Geni Eng is a co-director of the Community Health Scholars post-doctoral program. She teaches community organization; cross-cultural aspects of health education practices; community diagnosis; and health issues relevant to women, ethnic minorities, and developing nations. Her current research projects apply community-based research principles to the design and evaluation of lay health advisor interventions and look at the influence of sociocultural factors on STD’s and early detection of breast cancer.”

Dr. Eng was born on a Chinese vegetable truck farm family and spent her childhood in Jacksonville, Florida. After majoring in French in university, she joined the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa, where she worked in public health for six years. She also met her husband in Togo, and they both came to UNC for graduate school; they have been settled here since then.

She has been conducting CBPR for nearly 40 years with populations of color in rural areas of the South. Some examples of her work are dealing with pesticide exposure among migrant farm workers, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases among Latino men who have sex with men, and inequities in cardiovascular disease and breast cancer care among African American women.

For the first 20 years, she focused on the lay health advisory intervention, which is a strength-based approach to build on the naturally healthy networks of historically vulnerable communities to engage in all processes of research. However, for the last 20 years, the unresponsiveness of the health-care system, especially to people of color, led her to focus on anti-racism systems change interventions. She is one of the founding members of the Greensboro Health Disparities Collaborative, which has been working together for the past 18 years. She teaches courses in the Master of Public Heath, Health Equity, Social Justice and Human Rights Concentration, including “Leading for racial equity: Examining structural issues of race and class” and “Community competence, participation, and power: Community based participatory research and the photo voice methodology.”

“I found that it’s very important to improve the capacity and strength of communities and build on their talents and gifts to increase access to health care, to prevent diseases and illness. But at the same time, what I found is that the health care system is not always responsive. In fact, it’s never been really responsive to people of color.”