Gene W. Matthews, J.D., serves as Principal Investigator. He also serves as a Senior Investigator at the North Carolina Institute for Public Health (NCIPH) at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health. Gene previously served as chief legal advisor to CDC in Atlanta from 1979 to 2004, directing a legal staff that grew to 30 persons. During that 25-year span, he handled a wide range of precedent-setting public health law issues and litigated key public health lawsuits and civil discovery cases. Since 2000 Gene has provided leadership for the founding and development of the modern public health law movement. As a senior investigator at NCIPH, Gene led a national public/private partnership initiative, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, designed to develop common legal preparedness agendas regarding liability laws during emergencies. Gene currently conducts legal research and provides technical assistance to public health practitioners on many legal topics. He also teaches courses on leadership in health law and ethics for the UNC Doctoral Program in Health Leadership. Gene is widely published and is frequently called upon to lecture on cutting-edge legal issues such as public health messaging to promote health equity in a polarized political environment; the improvement of political skill sets in our public health workforce; and future trends in public health leadership and legal authority. Gene received the Distinguished Career Award from the Public Health Law Association “…in recognition of a career devoted to using law to improve the public’s health.” He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law and is a member of the North Carolina Bar.

Articles & Resources

Crafting Richer Public Health Messages — Gaining Broad Policy Support in Politically Polarized Times

Webinar SeriesPublic Health Advocacy and MessagingBecoming Better Messengers (Old Ver.)

September 17, 2017
by Colleen Healy Boufides and Gene Matthews

Designed for public health practitioners, lawyers, researchers and scientists, government and healthcare officials, and business and community leaders, this three-part webinar series, co-sponsored by the Network and the Center for Public Health Law Research, will explore the interdisciplinary messaging teamwork necessary to fashion legal and policy interventions in these politically polarized times. Using concepts and frameworks adapted from both Moral Foundations Theory and the Five Essential Public Health Law Services, the presenters will describe fresh approaches and practical examples for convincing lawmakers and the public to adopt new policies during these challenging times.

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Crafting Richer Messages: Moral Foundations Theory and Communication Strategies for Public Health

Law & Policy InsightsPublic Health Advocacy and MessagingBecoming Better Messengers

August 14, 2017
by Colleen Healy Boufides and Gene Matthews

Effective messaging of public health issues and solutions is essential to public health practice and especially to developing public health laws and policies in a polarized political environment. A number of strategies presented in the workshop were grounded in Moral Foundations Theory, which offers insights into moral psychology and decision-making that are helpful for understanding how value judgments are made.

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