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The UNC-Chapel Hill Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research is pleased to announce that Dr. George “Mark” Holmes has been appointed as the director of the UNC Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, one of the oldest and largest academic health services research centers in the United States.

“With his record of distinguished research, demonstrated leadership, and keen insight into public policy, I am pleased to name Dr. Holmes to lead the Sheps Center,” says Terry Magnuson, Vice Chancellor for Research at UNC. “The Sheps Center has provided university-based research and health services for nearly half a century and Mark is well positioned to advance the center’s long tradition of service to the state.”

Holmes is an associate professor and associate chair for research in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. He has served with the Sheps Center since 1997, beginning as a graduate research assistant and most recently as the director of the North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center, a senior research fellow and the co-director of the Program on Health Care Economics and Finance.

“I am honored to be entrusted with the legacy of one of the finest research institutions in the country,” says Holmes.  “Research conducted at the Sheps Center has been invaluable to improving the delivery of health care for North Carolina communities, and continuing this tradition is a top priority.”

“Dr. Holmes is particularly well suited to leading the Sheps Center. His own research on the financial health of rural hospitals is reflective of the health services research that center directors have facilitated,” says Barbara K. Rimer, Dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor of the Gillings School of Global Public Health. “Most important, within the Health Policy and Management department and within Sheps, Mark has demonstrated excellence both as a productive researcher as well as a leader who will facilitate a strategic interdisciplinary research agenda relevant across our university and beyond.”

The Sheps Center opened its doors in 1968 and seeks to improve the health of individuals, families and populations by understanding the problems, issues and alternatives in the design and delivery of health care services. The center received nearly $45 million in external funding in the last fiscal year, and is home to more than 80 research projects in 11 programs.

“Mark Holmes is a wonderful choice to lead the Sheps Center for Health Services Research,” says Tim Carey, who is stepping down as director of the Sheps Center after 16 years. “Challenges of cost, quality, and access to care abound, and Mark’s breadth of experience is well aligned with those areas. He is also an outstanding mentor for graduate students and junior faculty.”

Holmes received his B.S. from Michigan State University, majoring in mathematics and economics, and his PhD from the Department of Economics at UNC-Chapel Hill. His interests include hospital finance, rural health, workforce, health policy, and patient-centered outcomes research. In 2014, he received the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty and in 2015 he was named the Outstanding Rural Health Researcher by the National Rural Health Association. Previously, he was vice president of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, where he gained experience in North Carolina health policy. He also served on the board of the North Carolina Health Insurance Risk Pool, and is a member of advisory boards and committees to multiple programs in North Carolina. His state policy work led to his 2010 Health Care Hero “Rising Star” and 2012 “Forty Under Forty” awards from the Triangle Business Journal.

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