Why we’re named The Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research

Photo of Cecil G. Sheps who was the first director of the Sheps Center

Cecil G. Sheps was a founder and the first director of the UNC Health Services Research Center. The Center was named for Cecil G. Sheps in 1991.

Cecil G. Sheps, M.D., M.P.H., (1913-2004) was born in Winnipeg, Canada, where he received his M.D. degree from the University of Manitoba in 1936. He served four years in general practice after which, as a member of the Department of Public Health of the Province of Saskatchewan from 1944-46, he played a major role in the early developments there leading to universal hospitalization insurance and insurance for physicians’ services. He lived and worked in the United states since he obtained the Master of Public Health degree from Yale University in 1947. For over 40 years he taught, did research, and held administrative positions in universities, and he served in the field as an organizer and administrator of health services.

Dr. Sheps held the position of General Director of such institutions as the Beth Israel Hospitals of Boston and New York, as well as Professor in the Harvard Medical School, the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public health, and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. At Pittsburgh he was Professor of Public Health and was the head of the graduate program in medical care administration. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in the years 1947-53, he became Director of Program Planning in the Division of Health Affairs and Research Professor of Health Planning (perhaps the first in the United States to hold such a title).

Returning to the University of North Carolina in 1968 from New York, Dr. Sheps became the founding director of the University’s Health Services Research Center. Soon after that he became Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs. After six years, he left that position to devote his time entirely to his responsibilities as Professor of Social Medicine and Epidemiology in the University. In 1980, he was appointed Taylor Grandy Distinguished Professor.

Dr. Sheps published over 140 articles in scientific journals and wrote or edited nine books, including Needed Research in Health and Medical Care — A Biosocial Approach (1954) with Eugene E. Taylor and The Sick Citadel: The American Academic Medical Center and the Public Interest (1983) with Irving J. Lewis.