Skip to main content

Since 2018, UNC Medical Center Infection Prevention has bestowed Friends of Epidemiology awards to honor exceptional UNC Health Care employees in other departments. Awardees are outstanding in their work for their department and integral to the success of Infection Prevention.

bio pic of Zachary Willis

Each year, Carolina Antimicrobial Stewardship Program team members have been among those recognized. At the awards ceremony today, Zach Willis, MD, MPH  received a 2021 certificate of recognition for his continuing leadership of the UNC Children’s Hospital central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) workgroup. Other 2021 Awardees include Kevin Alby, PhD; Turkeisha Brown, MSN, RN; Tracy Carroll, MSN, RN; Loc Culp, BSN, RN; and Joe Eron, MD.

“Dr. Willis is a Friend of Epidemiology in so many ways,” said Emily Sickbert-Bennett, PhD, Director of UNC Medical Center Infection Prevention.  “Since he became the physician leader of the CLABSI workgroup several years ago, Dr. Willis shepherded CLABSI prevention initiatives throughout the Children’s Hospital.  He regularly participates in UNC Children’s Hospital CLABSI deep dives with nursing and physician leadership.” CLABSI is one type of healthcare-associated infection that resulted in 18,000 deaths across the US in 2019.

Willis’ participation led to increased physician involvement and multi-disciplinary discussions about CLABSI prevention.  In addition to planning and overseeing the monthly Children’s CLABSI workgroup meetings, Willis was a co-sponsor on the Children’s “Purple Belt” Quality Improvement project focused on nursing interventions to improve chlorhexidine treatments (an infection prevention strategy) during the past year.

“Dr. Willis balanced competing priorities—the ongoing pandemic and nursing staff shortages–to keep CLABSI initiatives and infection prevention at the forefront for everyone involved,” Sickbert-Bennett shared.


CASP teammates recognized previously:


Melissa Miller, PhD, D(ABMM), F(AAM) (Clinical Microbiology)


Lindsay Daniels, PharmD, MPH (CASP Pharmacy Lead)

Ashley Marx, PharmD (CASP Pharmacy)


Thomas Belhorn, MD, PhD (Pediatric Infectious Diseases)


For a list of all Friends of Epidemiology awardees past and present, visit