Dean's Message

As Dean, ad interim, of UTMB’s newest addition to our academic enterprise, I am delighted to welcome you to the School of Public and Population Health. The past several years have only served to highlight the critical role public health plays in protecting and improving the health of all people and their communities. COVID-19 taught us many lessons about our current public health infrastructure, including how critical our next generation of public health professionals, scientists, and scholars will be in meeting the needs of ensuring a healthy Texas and beyond.

With this in mind, as well as the continued growth in demand for professionals trained in public health-related practice, research, and scholarship, leaders both here at The University of Texas Medical Branch and at The University of Texas System set in motion the establishment of the School of Public & Population Health. By Summer of 2022, our School of Public and Population Health was formally approved by the UT System Board of Regents and recognized by the Council on Education for Public Health, bringing the total number of schools at UTMB to five.

The pandemic, and many previous health challenges before, have shown that the State of Texas, along with other states, are facing a critical shortage of public health professionals. Public health research, scholarship and practice promotes disease and injury prevention, healthy lifestyles and environments. Public health also actively responds to public health crises, such as, of course, the novel coronavirus but also to other conditions that plague our population, which include many chronic conditions impacting our population in Texas.

The disproportionate impact of the pandemic on underserved populations has also highlighted the importance of research into disparate public health-related outcomes across the most vulnerable segments within our society. Our new School will serve as a hub for integrating and aligning research, scholarship, practice, and education strengths across the UTMB campus to address these public health challenges locally, across Texas, and beyond. Our expertise and experience in leading efforts around discovery, training, and innovation focusing on addressing and improving minority aging and health, public and population health, emerging disease and global health (from a public health perspective) and health disparities will now have a common home to promote interdisciplinary growth in research, scholarship and education, all ultimately impacting and improving health for all.

To achieve our mission, The School of Public and Population Health houses 5 departments: Biostatistics and Data Science, Bioethics and Health Humanities, Epidemiology, Population Health and Health Disparities, and Global Health and Emerging Diseases. Across these departments, we focus on the primary prevention of disease and disability through the promotion of healthy behaviors and environments, while also addressing disparities in these outcomes. We also emphasize secondary prevention, or limitation of disease progression, through effective screening and early intervention, and promote tertiary prevention, or prevention of disease sequelae, through effective treatment and rehabilitation to restore health and function.

We embrace a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment, housing 35 faculty and growing, including biostatisticians, epidemiologists, social and behavioral scientists, bioethicists, scholars

from across the humanities, and public health scientists. Our faculty and trainees are unified by a commitment to producing positive health outcomes and health equity through investigating the interplay of 1) individual biological and behavioral factors, 2) humanistic and normative values, and 3) aspects of the physical, social, and policy environments. Our state-of-the-art research, practice, and training activities focus on health risks, bioethics, community and stakeholder engagement, determinants, outcomes, and interventions in both clinical and community settings.

As we prepare to welcome students into our new school, we are offering 3 CEPH-accredited PhD programs and 5 CEPH-accredited tracks for the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. The 3 PhD programs include Bioethics and Health Humanities, Population Health Sciences, and Rehabilitation Sciences. The 5 tracks for the MPH program include Aerospace Medicine, Bioethics, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and a Generalist track (MD/MPH combined degree). We look forward to continuing to grow our educational programs in the future, as well.

Again, I want to welcome you to the UTMB School of Public and Population Health. We look forward to being at the forefront of working wonders leading the assurance and protection of public health through the amazing contributions of our school’s faculty, trainees, and partners in the years to come.