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Record numbers

The academic year is off to a great start, with a 40% increase in research funding and more new students than ever before. Sponsored research at RSPH totalled $35.4 million for 2001-2002, far exceeding the goal set in our strategic plan just five years ago. Also, our 309 new MPH students are now well oriented and in the thick of the academic year. As they do each fall, their enthusiastic faces and inquisitive minds bring new vigor to the school and remind us of our duty to prepare them well for their future careers in public health. Our student body now stands at 834, including 100 Career MPH and 79 PhD students.

Preparing for public health emergencies

Formed just nine months ago, the Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research at the Rollins School of Public Health is growing rapidly. Some noteworthy accomplishments include:
  • Establishment of a CDC-sponsored public health preparedness program to focus on training public health professionals throughout Georgia about bioterrorism preparedness. Associate Dean for Applied Public Health Kathleen Miner is principal investigator.
  • A new course called Public Health Preparedness and Bioterrorism. Ruth Berkelman, the Rollins Professor of Public Health Preparedness and director of the center, and Philip Brachman, anthrax expert and Professor of International Health, are co-directing the course.
  • The Triangle Club lecture series, a monthly event that brings together Atlanta professionals in public health, health care, and academia who are working on issues related to bioterrorism preparedness. Sam Nunn, former US senator and co-chair of the Nunn-Turner Nuclear Threat Initiative, gave the first lecture in September. In October, the series featured Richard Preston, the best-selling author of The Hot Zone and The Demon in the Freezer, an inside look at smallpox.
  • A new course called Crisis Communications and Public Health, developed and taught by Melissa Shepherd, a visiting communications associate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • The center's key role in a new group called the Southeastern Center for Emerging Biologic Threats (SECEBT), which aims to combat emerging infectious disease threats through interdisciplinary collaboration. Partners include universities and local, state, and federal health agencies across the Southeastern United States.
  • Ongoing research involving the development and evaluation of early detection systems for epidemics and changes in health care utilization after a terrorist event.
  • A Student Outbreak Response Team, formed in collaboration with the DeKalb County Board of Health. This voluntary group allows students to gain experience working in a local public health department. The students are also on call to help the county during emergency situations.

Breaking new ground

I am extremely pleased to announce that Benjamin Druss, MD, MPH, has been named the first Rosalynn Carter Chair of Mental Health. In this position, he will collaborate closely with The Carter Center and the Emory School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Druss comes to Emory from the Yale University School of Medicine departments of Psychiatry and Public Health, where he has been an associate professor and director of mental health policy studies. At Emory, he will serve as an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management. He is well known for his clinical and research expertise on the treatment of mental illness in primary care settings. He earned a BA from Swarthmore College, an MD from New York University, and an MPH from Yale. Dr. Druss also serves on the Institute of Medicine Committee on Identifying Priority Areas for Quality Improvement. Established to honor Rosalynn Carter's long-time mental health advocacy, this chair is the first endowed chair in mental health at a school of public health. We look forward to the many exciting new opportunities this chair and relationship with The Carter Center will provide us in the area of mental health.

Faith-based solutions

Congratulations to Gary Gunderson, director of the Interfaith Health Program (IHP) at RSPH, on receiving a $1.5 million grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services to promote community health in seven states. IHP was one of 21 groups chosen to disperse $24.8 million in federal funding to faith-based organizations nationwide. The IHP initiative, called Strong Partners, is a partnership with nine foundations that support faith-based organizations. IHP will manage HHS funding granted to the foundations and provide technical assistance as well.

Communicating effectively

The RSPH will soon offer a Public Health Communications Certificate Program. Jay Bernhart, assistant professor of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, and Kathleen Miner, Associate Dean for Applied Public Health, recently received funding from the Office of Communication at CDC through the Association of Schools of Public Health to develop the program. Curriculum development, literature reviews and abstracting, and the creation of a health communications advisory board of distinguished experts in the field is now underway. Melissa Shepherd is a senior consultant.

Informatics program gains momentum

TRW Systems, Inc. recently made a $8,500 gift to the Department of Biostatistics to support the new MSPH program in Public Health Informatics. This funding will support student scholarships and help purchase books and other resources for a Public Health Informatics library in the Department of Biostatistics. TRW Systems, Inc., is part of the larger TRW, Inc., a global technology, manufacturing, and service company that provides advanced technology systems to customers worldwide. TRW Systems Inc provides information systems and technology support to a number of public health organizations, including the CDC. We are very grateful for their support and look forward to a long partnership with them.

High achievers

Two notable RSPH alumni were honored during Alumni Weekend this past September. Oscar Tarrago, MD, 89MPH, received the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, and Aun Lor, 97MPH, received the first annual Matthew Girvin Service Award. Dr. Tarrago has worked on a variety of public health issues, including polio eradication and health risk communications, in rural Mexico, Bosnia, Albania, and Kosovo. He is now a visiting scientist and senior staff fellow at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at CDC. Lor, a native of Cambodian who lost many family members to the Khmer Rouge, is now a health scientist/human subjects specialist at CDC. He has worked tirelessly for human rights concerns for a variety of organizations. The award was established to honor Matthew Girvin, 94MPH, who died in January, 2001 while on a United Nations surveying mission in China.


Career MPH student Brian Wheeler was part of an Alabama Department of Health team that won the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials 2002 Vision Award for its work on a perinatal Hepatitis B case management initiative.

Faculty accolades

Congratulations to the following faculty members, who continue to distinguish themselves on campus, nationally, and around the globe.
  • Donna Brogan (Biostatistics) received the Iowa State University Distinguished Achievement Citation this past October during ISU alumni weekend and presented a seminar for the ISU statistics department titled Sampling Rare Populations: Lesbians and Gays as a Case Example.
  • Howard Frumkin (Environmental and Occupational Health) was inducted as a Fellow of the Collegium Ramazzini, an occupational medicine society based in Carpi, Italy that includes 180 international leaders in the field.
  • John Hanfelt (Biostatistics) was appointed Associate Editor of Biometrics.
  • Vicki Hertzberg (Biostatistics) was elected to membership in the International Statistical Institute.
  • Debra Houry (Environmental and Occupational Health), associate director of the Center for Injury Control and assistant professor in the Emory School of Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine, received the 2002 Jay Drotman Award from the American Public Health Association. This highly competitive award recognizes an outstanding public health researcher under 30 years of age who has challenged traditional public health policy or practice in a creative and positive manner.
  • Michael Kutner (Biostatistics) received the Paul Minton Service Award from the Southern Regional Council on Statistics.
  • Amita Manatunga (Biostatistics) was appointed Associate Editor of Statistics in Medicine.
  • Reynaldo Martorell (International Health), the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of International Nutrition and department chair, was recently elected to the Institute of Medicine. He brings Emory's membership in the IOM to 11.
  • Claire Sterk (Behavioral Sciences and Health Education), chair of the department, was recently named the Charles Howard Candler Professor at Emory University. This honor recognizes her teaching and research expertise as well as her important contributions throughout the university. She has served as President of the University Senate and co-chaired the University Commission on Research.
  • I am the chair-elect of the Association of Schools of Public Health Deans Committee and chair-elect of the NIH Centers for AIDS Research Directors Committee.

James W. Curran, MD, MPH

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