Emory public health leaders named to state board

Brenda Fitzgerald

Brenda Fitzgerald

RSPH Dean James Curran was among the voices in Georgia calling for the creation of a state Department of Public Health.

Today, Curran is one of nine health leaders appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to the Georgia Board of Public Health, which advises the new department.

The board and the department have strong ties to Emory. Brenda Fitzgerald 77M, department commissioner, trained at Emory and Grady Memorial Hospital. Serving with Curran on the public health board are James Smith and Gary Nelson. Smith, retired associate director of radiation in CDC’s Center for Environmental Health, is an adjunct professor at Rollins in environmental health, while Nelson, president of the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, is an adjunct professor in behavioral sciences. Phillip Williams, dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia, also serves with Curran on the state board. Last year, Curran and Williams co-wrote an Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial calling for establishing a state health department led by a commissioner who reports to the governor.

Until last summer, public health was a division in the state’s Department of Community Health. A 2010 report issued by the Georgia Public Health Commission recommended elevating the Division of Public Health to department status to streamline the state’s response to new and persistent health problems.

The advantages are clear, as Fitzgerald notes. “A new stand-alone department will provide public health more agility to better meet the health needs of all Georgians.”

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