Yale School of Public Health History | Yale School Of Public Health (2022)

The Yale School of Public Health is one of the oldest nationally accredited schools of public health in the country. It was one of the eight existing schools first accredited by the American Public Health Association in 1946, though its origins date back three decades earlier as a department in the Yale School of Medicine.

In 1914, Yale University received an endowment from the Anna M. R. Lauder family to establish a chair in public health in the School of Medicine. This chair was filled in 1915 by Charles-Edward Amory Winslow, who was to be a central figure in the development of public health at Yale for thirty years. In 1920 Winslow set forth a definition of public health:

Public health is the science and the art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting physical health and efficiency through organized community efforts for the sanitation of the environment, the control of community infections, the education of the individual in principles and personal hygiene, the organization of medical and nursing services for the early diagnosis and preventive treatment of disease, and the development of the social machinery which will ensure to every individual a standard of living adequate for the maintenance of health; organizing these benefits in such a fashion as to enable every citizen to realize his birthright of health and longevity.

In the early 1920s Winslow’s Department of Public Health at Yale was a catalyst for public health reform in Connecticut, and his health surveys prepared in collaboration with other members of the faculty and students led to considerable improvements in public health organization across the country. He also successfully campaigned to improve health laws in Connecticut and for the passage of a bill that created the State Department of Public Health.

Winslow focused on “the education of undergraduate medical students along the lines of preventive medicine.” He also established a one-year program leading to a Certificate in Public Health, which later became the Master of Public Health degree. From the beginning, Winslow sought to build bridges between the Department of Public Health, the Sheffield Scientific School and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences by making courses available to students in the other schools. He was also able to establish Bacteriology, Pathology and Public Health as a single, unified department in the Graduate School.

Winslow looked to a number of existing departments (Bacteriology, Immunology, Medicine, Pathology, Pediatrics, Physiological Chemistry, Sanitary Engineering and Zoology) to supplement his own courses in public health principles, public health administration and vital statistics. He established a comprehensive nonmedical program that by 1925 graduated eighteen students with a Certificate in Public Health, ten with a Ph.D., and four with a Dr.P.H. Students specialized in administration, bacteriology or statistics.

During Winslow’s thirty years at Yale, hygiene developed into preventive medicine; bacteriology evolved into microbiology to include parasitology and virology; classic epidemiology evolved into clinical epidemiology; control of communicable diseases became chronic disease control; and public health assimilated the social dimensions of sickness and health and appropriated such disciplines as medical economics and medical care organization. It was due to Winslow’s innovative foresight and commitment to interdisciplinary education that the department’s academic programs earned recognition as a nationally accredited School of Public Health in 1946.

In the early 1960s, the Yale Department of Public Health merged with the Section of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, a unit within the Department of Internal Medicine. In 1964 the new department moved into its own building, the Laboratory of Epidemiology and Public Health (LEPH), which was designed by Philip Johnson and continues as its primary location for research and teaching.

Concurrent with the move into LEPH, the Rockefeller Foundation bequeathed its arbovirus research unit, including its scientists and research staff, to Yale. The arrival of virologists like Wilbur Downs, Nobel Prize winner Max Theiler, Jordi Casals, Sonja Buckley and others began a rapid expansion of public health at Yale. Their ground-breaking work on tropical diseases set the stage for a division of international health that focused on basic healthcare and delivery in underserved populations.

Meanwhile, as public health successes in infectious disease control (polio, measles, etc…) were changing medical demands nationally, the School also broadened its focus to address the growing burden of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and issues surrounding aging.

During these years, the Master of Public Health curriculum was also reorganized into four divisions (biostatistics, epidemiology, hospital administration and environmental health).

In the late 60s and early 70s, health policy and the psychosocial and behavioral determinants of health gained focus as academic specialties. Today, faculty and students also bring expertise in genomics, mathematical modeling, behavioral economics and innovative technologies to the field, the bench and the classroom to address evolving public health challenges and advance health promotion in the era of globalization.

A century after Winslow’s appointment, Public Health continues to strengthen its interdisciplinary research partnerships with numerous entities at the School of Medicine and across Yale’s campus. In its dual capacity as a nationally accredited School of Public Health and a school at the Yale School of Medicine, it honors Winslow’s commitment to public health education across disciplines and community practice through an array of degrees offered to a wide audience, ranging from undergraduates to advanced professionals, in conjunction with Yale College, the Graduate School and six of Yale’s professional schools.

Akriti Singh

Akriti received a Master’s in Public Health from Yale University School of Public Health with specialization in Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases. In her role for Suaahara, a USAID-funded integrated nutrition project implemented in several districts of Nepal, Akriti was responsible for providing oversight to planning, designing, and implementing health and nutrition components in 13 districts. She was recently involved in operations research aimed to understand whether and how the project was meeting it objective. Akriti is currently a PhD student at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, working in the Nutrition and Innovation Lab to assess the effect of paternal migration on child nutrition in status Nepal.

Susan Mayne

Susan Mayne, Ph.D., joined the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January 2015 as the new director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). In this role, Dr. Mayne leads the center’s development and implementation of programs and policies related to the composition, quality, safety, and labeling of foods, food and color additives, and cosmetics. Before joining the FDA, Dr. Mayne was the C.-E.A. Winslow Professor and Chair of the Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, and Associate Director of Yale Cancer Center.

Sonja Buckley

Dr. Buckley, who served at Yale from 1964-1994, is recognized for her contributions to science. She was a virologist at Johns Hopkins, then the Rockefeller virus labs before they were moved to Yale to form the Yale Arbovirus Research Unit. With Dr. Wilbur Downs and Dr. Jordi Casals-Ariet at Yale, Dr. Buckley was credited with isolating and cultivating the Lassa virus responsible for outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever in Africa.

Roxanne Winston

Roxanne (right), facilitating the "What's the T: Conversations on Transmasculine Services of the Bay" panel at the Strut Gay, Bi, and Trans Men's clinic that she coordinated as part of her internship. During her internship, Roxanne worked with the TransLife Program at the SF AIDS Foundation and hosted a transmasculine health panel. Separately, she also conducted independent research on the health effects of stigma on receptiveness and adherence to care among transmasculine and gender non-conforming communities.

Preethi Venkat

As a student, Preethi completed her Master’s thesis and worked amongst a team on KHUSHI Baby’s First Randomized Controlled Trial. Khushi Baby won the Yale School of Public Health’s inaugural Thorne Prize in 2014. With the Thorne Prize award, Preethi traveled to India with the team to flesh out their idea for a wearable immunization record.

Patricia Nez Henderson

Dr. Nez Henderson was the first American Indian woman to graduate from Yale University School of Medicine. As a graduate, she was the first to receive the Patricia Nez award, an annual award given to recognize a Yale School of Medicine graduate committed to improving health among American Indian populations.

Pamela M. Sutton-Wallace

Pamela Sutton Wallace currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer for the University of Virginia Medical Center. She oversees the strategic direction and operations of all inpatient and ambulatory services of the medical center. Prior to joining UVA, Pam served as Senior Vice President for Hospital Operations of Duke University Hospital. Pam received her undergraduate degree in Political Science and African-American Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. She later graduated from Yale University with a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree, completing her thesis with distinction.

Or Vandine

Dr. Or Vandine, Technical Director of General Health at the Ministry, discussed the efforts needed, and urged ministry officials nationwide to carefully plan and discuss what can be done to improve health care services before the 2018 election in Kamong Cham province.

Nancy Ruddle

Nancy Ruddle, Professor Emeritus of and Senior Research Scientist in Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases), is known for her discovery and analysis of lymphotoxin, a protein produced by T cells that plays a role in the protective immune system and destroys tumor cells. She and researchers in her laboratory have engaged in research on the lymphotoxin/tumor necrosis factor family, their regulation and roles in lymphoid organ development and pathogenesis of viral and autoimmune disease. Ruddle has authored or co-authored more than 170 articles, which have explored the immunology of such diseases as leukemia, experimental allergic encephalomyelitis and Leishmania amazonensis infection, among others. She continues to generate insight into the regulation and function of lymphoid organs through her analysis of the vessels crucial for their function.

Kimberly Vasquez

During a summer internship, Kimberly Vasquez worked with a research team in an HIV clinic at a public hospital in León, Nicaragua and participated in community service. The team conducted a mixed methods study to determine the clinic’s baseline HIV antiretroviral medication adherence and assessed self-reported barriers and facilitators to antiretroviral medication adherence. The group also taught health education classes at a high school in a nearby rural town with high rates of teenage pregnancy.

Katrina Clark

Katrina received a Master’s in Public Health from Yale University in 1971 and an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Albertus Magnus College in 1994. She was a Lecturer in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale University, which honored her with the Yale School of Public Health Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013. As Executive Director of the Fair Haven Community Health Center from 1973 to 2013, Katrina grew "The Clinic" from a small, volunteer-led storefront into a multi-campus healthcare organization that continues to deliver critical services to underserved people in the Fair Haven community today.

Betsy Bradley

Prior to becoming the eleventh president of Vassar College in 2017, Elizabeth Bradley was the director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy at Yale, a university-wide, interdisciplinary program primarily for undergraduates, whose goal is to train emerging leaders. Highly regarded for her international work as founder and faculty director of the Yale Global Health Leadership Institute, which operates education and research programs in China, the United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Rwanda, and South Africa, Bradley led teams that contributed to transforming Ethiopia’s health care system, enhancing the quality of hospital management and availability of primary care.

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