Philip A. May, PhD

Professor of Nutrition

Philip A. May, PhD, joined the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute in 2011 as a Research Professor. He is an expert in the epidemiology of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and has published numerous papers on the epidemiology of FASD in South Africa, The United States, and Italy.

Dr. May has conducted extensive research on the epidemiology and risk factors for FASD, including inventories of the population-based traits of children within all four diagnoses of FASD, maternal risk factors, and maternal health factors such as dietary intake, maternal BMI, childbearing history, alcohol use biomarkers, and socioeconomic status. He has received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), specifically the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), over the past 25 years. Dr. May was formally trained in demography, social epidemiology, and population studies. He and his clinical research team focus much of their research on the epidemiologic discovery of etiology, diagnosis of the full continuum of FASD, targeted opportunities for community-wide prevention, and programs of intervention.

At the NRI, Dr. May combines the knowledge gained from his on-the-ground research in the multiple states of the United States, five areas of South Africa, and the Lazio region of Italy with the institute’s advancements in developing an individualized approach to nutrition. “We have made great progress identifying the demographic and behavioral risk factors for FASD in some populations,” Dr. May explains. “We are currently examining individual variation in risk factors such as nutritional deficiencies in mothers and children including how genetics, epigenetics, and metabolism influence the severity of FASD outcomes. This emerging focus of our research will provide multiple insights and applications for precision nutrition and precision medical interventions for children living with FASD.”

 

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By joining NRI and moving to North Carolina, Dr. May has returned to his roots in the Southeastern United States. He graduated from Catawba College with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and received his Masters of Sociology at Wake Forest University. He earned his Doctorate of Sociology with specialties in Demography and Social Epidemiology from the University of Montana. He has since built an esteemed professional career in public health research serving first as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service. He came to UNC-NRI after 33 years as a Professor of Sociology and Family and Community Medicine at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Dr. May has received a number of awards for his research. Most recently, Dr. May was awarded and delivered the Mark Keller Honorary Lecture at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland on November 29, 2018. The Keller Award is one the highest honors given by NIAAA and NIH. In 2012, he received an Excellence Award for “pioneering research and distinguished contributions” from the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. In 2013 he was the recipient of a Starfish Award from the University of British Columbia’s Fifth International Conference on FASD for “having the courage to make a difference” in the lives of people living with FASD. In 2014, the Henry Rosett Award of the FASD Study Group of the Research Society on Alcoholism was presented to Dr. May “in honor of his achievements in research on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.”  In 2017 Dr. May delivered (for the second time) the Geoffrey Robinson Memorial Lecture at the International Conference on FASD.

Dr. May is appointed in the Department of Nutrition at the UNC-Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health. He also maintains roles as an Extraordinary Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology on the Faculty of Health Sciences, of The University of Stellenbosch, in Cape Town, South Africa, and as an Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics for the Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota. He is also Professor Emeritus from the University of New Mexico.

 

May’s Team

Julie Hasken, PhD, MPH

Julie Hasken, PhD, MPH

Postdoctoral Research Associate

jhasken@email.unc.edu
704-250-5042

May Team L-R: Julie Hasken, Phil May, Dixie Hedrick

Back: Phil May, Malick Dieng,* Eddie Serrano*
Front: Julie Haskens, Mike Mackin*, Dixie Hedrick
*–NRI Finance Team

Publications

2020

Validity and Reliability of Executive Function Measures in Children with Heavy Prenatal Alcohol Exposure: Correspondence Between Multiple Raters and Laboratory Measures

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in a Midwestern City: Child Characteristics, Maternal Risk Traits, and Prevalence.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in a Southeastern County of the United States: Child Characteristics and Maternal Risk Traits.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in a Rocky Mountain Region City: Child Characteristics, Maternal Risk Traits, and Prevalence.

Characterizing Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND): Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and the Spectrum of Outcomes.

 

2019

Early-Life Predictors of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

“The Dop System of Alcohol Distribution is Dead, but It’s Legacy Lives On….”.

Relation between adaptive function and IQ among youth with histories of heavy prenatal alcohol exposure.

 

2018

Comment on Drinking or Smoking While Breastfeeding and Later Cognition in Children.

Attitudes toward alcohol use during pregnancy among women recruited from alcohol-serving venues in Cape Town, South Africa: A mixed-methods study.

A utilitarian comparison of two alcohol use biomarkers with self-reported drinking history collected in antenatal clinics.

Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in 4 US Communities.

 

2017

Computer-Aided Recognition of Facial Attributes for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

Risk for Alcohol-Exposed Pregnancies Among Women at Drinking Venues in Cape Town, South Africa.

Who is most affected by prenatal alcohol exposure: Boys or girls?

Replication of High Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Prevalence Rates, Child Characteristics, and Maternal Risk Factors in a Second Sample of Rural Communities in South Africa.

 

2016

Updated Clinical Guidelines for Diagnosing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and assessment of maxillary and mandibular arc measurements.

Breastfeeding and maternal alcohol use: Prevalence and effects on child outcomes and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

The continuum of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in four rural communities in South Africa: Prevalence and characteristics.

Collaborating Clinic Diagnostic Research Team

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Epidemiology Research (FASER) Clinical Team Physicians

H. Eugene Hoyme, MD, FACMG, FAAP
  Sanford School of Medicine, University of South Dakota
       Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics and former Chairman of Pediatrics
       Medical Director, Sanford Children’s Genomic Medicine Consortium
  The University of Arizona, College of Medicine
       Senior Advisor, Center for Applied Genetics and Genomic Medicine
       Clinical Professor, Pediatrics and Medicine

Luther K. Robinson, MD
  SUNY, University at Buffalo, School of Medicine
       Professor Emeritus, Pediatrics
       Clinical Geneticist

Margaret L.P. Adam, MD
       Professor Department of Pediatrics
       Clinical Genetics, Seattle Children’s Hospital

Melanie A. Manning, MD
  Stanford University 
       Clinical Professor, Pathology
       Clinical Professor, Pediatrics – Medical Genetics,
       Director of the Cytogenetics Laboratory

Omar Abdul-Rahman, MD, FACMG
  University of Nebraska Medical Center
       Friedland Professor of Pediatrics
       Director of Genetic Medicine, Munroe-Meyer Institute

Tamison Jewett, MD
  Wake Forest University
       Professor of Pediatrics – Medical Genetics
       Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
       Brenner Children’s Hospital

 

Partner Institution Staff FASER Study in South Africa

Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa

Professor Soraya Seedat, MBChB, MMED (Psych), PhD
  Co-PI of FASER Grants
       Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry
       Executive Head, Department of Psychiatry
       Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
       Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa

Charles D. Parry, MA, MSc, PhD
  Co-PI of FASER Grants in South Africa
       South African Medical Research Council
       Director, Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug Research Unit
       Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
       Extraordinary Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Anna-Susan Marais, B. Cur., RN
  Program Manager-FASER-SA Studies
       Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
       Stellenbosch University, FASER Central Office, Tygerberg, SA

Andrea Engelbrecht, M.Th Theology
  Administrator-FASER-SA Study
       Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
       Stellenbosch University, FASER Central Office, Tygerberg, SA

Shumaya H. Uithaler
  Data Clerk, FASER-SA Study
       Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
       Stellenbosch University, FASER Central Office, Tygerberg, SA

Suzelle Kruger
  Data Analyst, FASER SA Study
       Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
       Stellenbosch University, FASER Central Office, Tygerberg, SA

Marlene De Vries, MSW, (Ph.D. Candidate)
  Project Manager-FASER-SA Study
       Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
       Robertson Study Site, Robertson, SA

Carisa Siemens, BSW
  Senior Project Officer-FASER-SA Study
       Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
       Robertson Study Site, Robertson, SA

Gabriela P. Carolus, MA
  Project Officer-FASER-SA Study
       Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
       Robertson Study Site, Robertson, SA

Priscilla E. Fortuin
  Driver and Field Outreach -FASER-SA Study
       Stellenbosch University, Medicine and Health Sciences
       Robertson Study Site, Robertson, SA

Florette Kamfer
  Driver and Field Outreach-FASER-SA Study
       Stellenbosch University, Medicine and Health Sciences
       Robertson Study Site, Robertson, SA

Cecilia Kriel, BA
  Project Officer
       Stellenbosch University, Medicine and Health Sciences
       Robertson Study Site, Robertson, SA

 

Partner Institution Staff FASER Study in South Africa

The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions

Wendy O. Kalberg, MA, LED
  Co-PI, The University of New Mexico Office
       The University of New Mexico
       Clinical Research Associate, Educational Diagnostics and Development Specialist
       Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions

David Buckley, MA
  Data Research Analyst and IRB Coordinator
       University of New Mexico
       Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions

Partner Institutions

Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Celebrating its centennial in 2018, Stellenbosch University is one of the oldest universities in South Africa. The university, located in the Western Cape province of South Africa, is among South Africa’s leading tertiary institutions based on research output, student pass rates and rated scientists, and is recognized internationally as an academic institution of excellence. It is home to an academic community of more than 31,000 students, including 4,000 foreign students from 100 countries, as well as 3,400 permanent staff members on five campuses. Stellenbosch University is a member of the Academic Consortium for the 21st Century, an international network aimed at promoting cooperation in education and research between its members. Nestled between picturesque mountains in the Cape Winelands, Stellenbosch University offers a beautiful environment to students who choose to study there. Click here to learn more about Stellenbosch Medicine and Health Sciences.

University of New Mexico

Founded in 1889 as New Mexico’s flagship institution, The University of New Mexico now occupies nearly 800 acres near old Route 66 in the heart of Albuquerque, a metropolitan area of more than 500,000 people. From the magnificent mesas to the west, past the banks of the historic Rio Grande to the Sandia Mountains to the east, Albuquerque is a blend of culture and cuisine, styles and stories, people, pursuits and panoramas. 

Offering a distinctive campus environment with a Pueblo Revival architectural theme, the campus buildings echo nearby Pueblo Indian villages. The nationally recognized campus arboretum and the popular duck pond offer an outstanding botanical experience in the midst of one of New Mexico’s great public open spaces. Click here to learn more about the University of New Mexico.