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Seth Berkowitz, MD, MPH
Seth Berkowitz, MD, MPH

Seth A. Berkowitz, MD, MPH, an associate professor in the Division of General Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology in the Department of Medicine, is one of four UNC faculty members awarded the 2022 Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement.

The Hettleman Prizes were established in 1986 by the late Phillip Hettleman, a member of the Carolina class of 1921, and his wife, Ruth, to recognize the achievements of outstanding junior tenure-track faculty or recently tenured faculty. The honor includes a $5,000 stipend and an opportunity to deliver a 15-minute virtual presentation on their research during University Research Week.

“I was very excited to receive this award,” said Dr. Berkowitz. “I mean, there’s so much great work going on at UNC. I thought it was kind of a long shot to be able to get the award. But it was really nice to have that recognition.”

Dr. Berkowitz’s research focuses on health-related social needs. He studies factors like food insecurity, housing instability, and barriers with transportation and how those can make people’s health worse or make it harder to manage the chronic conditions that people have.

He is conducting several clinical trials of strategies to reduce food insecurity, and thereby improve health, such as medically tailored meals, food subsidies, and food delivery.

Results from his pilot work demonstrated improved nutrition quality, fewer episodes of hypoglycemia among patients with diabetes, and less overall healthcare resource use.

“We have so much to learn about how to address social determinants of health including the role of health care systems and the communities they serve,” said Dr. Berkowitz. “Fortunately, policy makers and leaders in government and industry are starting to recognize these issues and support our work to find and study solutions. The plan is to keep forging ahead.”

“Seth is a talented, creative, and passionate researcher and advocate for the most vulnerable in our society. He is a national leader on the intersection of health and social needs, and he has used rigorous research methods to influence local and national policy,” said Darren DeWalt, MD, the Chief of the Division of General Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology.

Dr. Berkowitz expressed his gratitude for Dr. DeWalt and Janet Rubin, MD, the Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Medicine, for nominating him for the prize and supporting him over the years. DeWalt also served as Berkowitz’s mentor for his K23, or early career grant from the National Institutes of Health.

       – Written by Kendall Daniels