North Carolina is one of the world's leading centers for medicine, biotechnology and public health research. Since its inception, the Research Triangle Park (RTP) has become the largest research park in the US, currently employing nearly 40,000 people. RTP and nearby research universities have drawn companies like Bayer, Biogen Idec, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Monsanto, and Wyeth to the area, as well as major institutions such as the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, North Carolina Biotechnology Center, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Further indications of the state's prominence are that seven Nobel Laureates in chemistry or medicine have called North Carolina home with four of them doing their prize-winning research in North Carolina.

Unfortunately, North Carolina's record on health issues hasn't always been so positive. North Carolina's eugenics program was one of the most active in the nation. The North Carolina General Assembly authorized legalized sterilization in 1929, and by 1977, when the General Assembly formally abolished the program, over 7,600 people had been sterilized. In 2013 a compensation program was created for the victims of the eugenics program.

North Carolina’s lowest infant mortality, 7.0 per 1,000 live births, occurred in 2010 and 2013. The infant mortality rate for 2014, the most recent available, was slightly higher at 7.1 per 1,000.

North Carolina ranks high in immunization coverage of children and low in prevalence of excessive drinking. Since 1990 there has been a 42% drop in cardiovascular death – but the disparity in health status by education has increased by 13% in the past 10 years.

back to topBiotechnology

  • Biotechnology in North Carolina: GHL Catalog Search
  • NC Research Campus
  • Evidence and Opportunity: Biotechnology Impacts in North Carolina
    PDF report of the Battelle Institute's Technology Partnership Practice study on biotechnology's impact on North Carolina.
  • Gertrude Elion and Dr. George Hitchings
    Biographies of the Nobel Prize-winning chemists who worked together at the Burroughs-Wellcome Company. As a result of their studies, drugs were developed that have become essential in the fight against leukemia.
  • Martin Rodbell
    Biography of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Medicine winner who discovered guanosine triphosphates (GTP) binding proteins, also called G-proteins.
  • North Carolina Biotechnology Center
    The world’s first government-sponsored organization dedicated to developing the biotechnology industry.
  • North Carolina Research Campus
    The NCRC is a private-public venture created to foster collaboration and further advancements in the fields of biotechnology, nutrition and health.
  • Oliver Smithies
    Biography of a 2007 Nobel Prize-winning faculty member from UNC-CH. His prize winning work was on gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells.

back to topHealth Care History

back to top Mental Health History

back to topPublic Health History

  • African Americans' Health: GHL Catalog Search
  • Health and Epidemics
    The NCpedia articles on health and science in North Carolina.
  • Health and Healing in North Carolina: an Interactive Timeline
    This adaptation of the former North Carolina Museum of History exhibit "Health and Healing Experiences in North Carolina" uses images, video, and audio to allow the visitor to journey through health and healing in North Carolina from the 1500s through the 19th century. Some of the topics include: environments, stories of self-care, milestones of contemporary medicine, slave medicine, Civil War medicine, Cherokee healing, and other early healing systems.
  • Miracle of Hickory: the 1944 Emergency Polio Hospital
    Web site for an exhibit at the Hickory History Center about how the communities of Hickory and Catawba County worked together to build a hospital for polio victims in 54 hours.
  • Tuberculosis: GHL Catalog Search
  • Women's Health Issues: GHL Catalog Search
  • Women in Duke Medicine: an Oral History
    Looks at the stories of individual women and the context in which those stories took place.

back to topResources for Kids
  • Braille Bug
    Information, activities, and games designed to teach children in grades 3 through 6 about Braille.
    Gives girls between the ages of 10 and 16 reliable, useful information on health issues.
  • KidsHealth
    Information about staying healthy, feelings, illnesses and injuries, a kid's dictionary of medical words, and much more.
  • A Life-Saving Team: Gertrude Elion and Dr. George Hitchings
    Gertrude Elion and Dr. George Hitchings came from different backgrounds but teamed up in 1944 at the Burroughs Wellcome Company. Their research led to medicines that fight leukemia, malaria, and AIDS. This article appeared in the Fall 2006 issue of Tar Heel Junior Historian magazine.
  • The Man Who Helped the World Breathe Easier
    Lunsford Richardson II, of Johnston County, wanted to do something that would help others. While working in his drugstore, he invented medicines and eventually created Vicks VapoRub. This article appeared in the Fall 2006 issue of Tar Heel Junior Historian magazine.
  • When Johnny Couldn’t Come Marching Home: Civil War Amputations
    During the Civil War many surgeons performed amputations. North Carolina became the first former Confederate state to offer artificial limbs to amputees. This article originally appeared in the Fall 2008 Tar Heel Junior Historian Magazine.
Lesson Plans
Grade 1: Growing cooties: the importance of washing hands
Grade 6-8: How do I look to you? How propaganda was used to improve the health of children in the 1930s
Grade 6-7: Medical careers: Working with probability
Grade 8: Good medicine: changes in technology, medicine, and health in North Carolina between 1870 and 1930

back to topCurrent Health Resources

back to topImage Credits

Header Image: St. Agnes Hospital Nursing School, St. Augustine's College, Raleigh, NC, 1949. (N.53.15.6822) From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC.

Biotechnology Image: Biotechnology Research Campus

Health Care History Image: Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, Duke University, Black History Month: A medical perspective

Mental Health Image: Dorothea Lynde Dix. U.S. Library of Congress. Retouched photograph. [No date found on item.] Location: Biographical File Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-9797.

Public Health Image: Influenza in North Carolina, State Library of North Carolina

Resources for Kids Image:, Dept. of Health and Human Services.