Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University
|Established||1953 (Division); 2001 (Department)|
|Head of Department||Dr. Charles Branas|
|Location||Allan Rosenfield Building, 722 West 168th Street, New York, New York, United States|
|Campus||Located on the Columbia University Medical Centre campus|
The Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University is one of six departments at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, located on the Columbia University Medical Center campus in New York City. It offers five graduate degrees, several doctoral and post-doctoral training programs, and holds a summer institute. The department also hosts a symposium series on public health issues like HIV, screening, and autism; a lecture series on current epidemiologic topics, publishes a quarterly newsletter and sponsors a public health website called the 2x2 Project.
The department’s research strengths include cancer epidemiology, HIV care and treatment, biologic and social determinants of population health, psychiatric epidemiology, epidemiology of injury, and applying methodologic approaches to look at epidemiology over the life course. The department is organized into six research areas, which are known as clusters.
- 1 History
- 2 Academic and training programs
- 3 Research
- 4 Affiliated centers and programs
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The department’s history extends back nearly a century. In 1918, Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons received a $5 million endowment from the estate of mining magnate Joseph DeLamar to establish an educational program in public health, which led to the founding in 1919 of what would become the School of Public Health. DeLamar’s legacy was "to provide for the study and teaching of the origin and cause of human disease and the prevention thereof, and for the study and teaching of dietetics and of the effect of different food and diet.” The DeLamar Institute of Public Health opened its doors at Columbia in 1921 and the following year began offering the Master of Science in Public Health degree.
Haven Emerson, Professor of Public Health Administration, and the grand-nephew of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was the first director of the Institute of Public Health, serving from 1922 to 1939. Emerson was a major figure in epidemiology in the 1920s. He founded the American Epidemiological Society in 1927 with Edward Godfrey, an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia under Emerson. Emerson established the broad, multilevel thinking and practice of epidemiology that endures in the School of Public Health and the Department of Epidemiology today. The same year, Emerson also formed and was the first secretary of the Epidemiology Section of the American Public Health Association.
Shortly after Emerson stepped down, Harry Stoll Mustard assumed leadership of the Institute of Public Health in 1940 where he would remain until 1949. The same year Mustard was appointed, Ernest Stebbins was appointed the first full Professor of Epidemiology at the Institute, and the Doctor of Science in public health was offered for the first time.
On July 1, 1945, the designation of Institute of Public Health was changed by the Trustees of Columbia University to the School of Public Health. In 1946, the School of Public Health began offering the Master of Public Health degree in addition to the Master of Science and the Doctor of Public Health.
E. Gurney Clark, who succeeded Stebbins as Professor of Epidemiology in 1947, saw Epidemiology become a Division in 1953 and became the first leader of the Division, a post he held until 1966. Clark was perhaps best known for his important textbook on preventive medicine and epidemiologic investigation. Under Clark, the Department developed a dynamic relationship with the New York City Department of Health — a relationship that has been nurtured and grown by succeeding leadership.
Dr. Mervyn Susser served as Head of the Division of Epidemiology from 1966 to 1978; he continued in the role as acting Head of Division until 1982. Susser’s period leading the Division coincided with rapid progress in the field at large. Susser presided over a period where the core curriculum for epidemiology in the Division was established, laying the foundation for much of the teaching that takes place in the Department to this day. Susser also initiated a strong and abiding relationship with New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI), and helped seed several training programs.
Under Susser’s leadership, the department established a strong focus on child development, mental health, and the social and psychological sciences, which was unusual for departments of epidemiology at the time. In 1967, its Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program was established, followed in 1972 by the award of a T32 training program from NIMH to Bruce Dohrenwend, which continues today under the leadership of Bruce Link. A PhD program in Epidemiology was also established, and its first graduate was awarded her degree in 1977.
Bernard Challenor, dean of the School of Public Health 1978-1980 served as acting Head of the Division of Epidemiology 1982-1983. In 1983, Jennifer Kelsey took over as Head of the Division of Epidemiology, serving until 1991, five years after Allan Rosenfield was appointed Dean of the School of Public Health. During the 1980s, there were four special programs offered to students: Epidemiology of Mental Retardation, Epidemiology of Musculoskeletal Disorders, Neuroepidemiology, and Psychiatric Epidemiology.
Geoffrey Howe assumed the role of Head of Division in 1995. Under Kelsey and Howe, the Division expanded its focal areas of concentration to include women’s reproductive health and particularly cancer epidemiology, thus providing the foundation for what is now one of the Department’s strongest research, training, and service programs.
The School and the Department were transformed in 1998, when the Mailman Family Foundation endowed the School with $33 million, at the time the largest gift ever given to a school of public health. The School of Public Health was then renamed the Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health.
In 1999, Ezra Susser, son of Mervyn Susser and Zena Stein, a long-standing faculty member in the Division, assumed the role of Division Head in Epidemiology. In 2001, the Division of Epidemiology became the Department of Epidemiology and Susser became the first chair of the Department of Epidemiology. During this time, the Department was transformed from one with few grants and a limited purview into one with a large portfolio of grants and programs.
In 2008, Susser stepped down from his position as Chair. William Friedewald stepped in as acting-chair for a year while a search committee convened a vigorous international search for the epidemiology chair. During this time, in a school-wide reorganization, two inter-departmental centers, International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) and the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII), were launched, led by Wafaa El-Sadr and W. Ian Lipkin, respectively, two epidemiology faculty members who joined the Department under Susser’s leadership.
On January 1, 2010, Sandro Galea joined the Mailman School as the Chair of the Department of Epidemiology. Under the leadership of Galea, the Department of Epidemiology regorganized and consolidated its work in its core area areas of strength, building its research and teaching portfolio in chronic disease, infectious disease, injury, lifecourse, psychiatric/neurological, and social epidemiology. The Department also launched several new cross-cutting programs, including the Global Mental Health Program and efforts aimed at translation of public health research, and educational initiatives, including the Epidemiology and Population Health Summer Institute and the Executive MS program.
In 2017, Charles Branas joined the school as the Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and the Anna Cheskis Gelman and Murray Charles Gelman Professor of Epidemiology. Dr. Branas has conducted research that extends from urban and rural areas in the US to communities across the globe, incorporating place-based interventions and human geography. He has led win-win science that generates new knowledge while simultaneously creating positive, real-world changes and providing health-enhancing resources for local communities. His pioneering work on geographic access to medical care has changed the healthcare landscape, leading to the designation of new hospitals and a series of national scientific replications in the US and other countries for many conditions: trauma, cancer, stroke, etc. His research on the geography and factors underpinning gun violence has been cited by landmark Supreme Court decisions, Congress, and the NIH Director.
Academic and training programs
The department sponsors or co-sponsors many training programs for doctoral and post-doctoral trainees in the areas of cancer, family planning, international AIDS research, HIV-related malignancies in South Africa, infectious disease epidemiology, maximizing diversity, nutrition and population health, neuro-epidemiology, psychiatric epidemiology, public psychiatry, the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program, substance abuse, and anti-microbial resistance.
Columbia’s Department of Epidemiology is organized into six research areas, which are known as clusters. They are: chronic disease epidemiology, injury epidemiology, infectious disease epidemiology, lifecourse epidemiology, psychiatric/neurologic epidemiology, and social epidemiology.
Chronic disease epidemiology
Research in the chronic disease epidemiology cluster addresses the etiology, prevention, distribution, natural history, and treatment outcomes of chronic health disorders, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal and pulmonary disease, and obesity.
The objectives of the injury cluster are to integrate expertise and other resources across academic divisions, facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration, forge diverse partnerships, and accelerate the advancement of science and the translation of scientific discoveries to reduce the incidence and severity of injury at the community, regional, state and national levels.
Infectious disease epidemiology
The infectious disease epidemiology cluster encompasses domestic and global work on the epidemiology of emerging and re-emerging infections, global infectious disease threats, disease surveillance, disease detection, development of vaccines and other prevention methods, clinical trials, and the role of infectious pathogens in the pathogenesis of chronic non-communicable diseases (such as cancer and cardiovascular disease).
Lifecourse epidemiology is the study of antecedent exposures and later health outcomes, taking into account evolution of health and disorder over time using biologic, genetic, epigenetic, and social contextual measures. Faculty carry out studies in numerous large birth cohorts across the globe.
The psychiatric/neurology cluster studies the causes, origins, progression, and consequences of psychiatric and neurological disorders.
The social epidemiology cluster looks at the ways in which social, psychological, political, cultural, and economic circumstances influence health.
Affiliated centers and programs
- Center for Infection and Immunity (CII)
- The Center for Interdisciplinary Research to Prevent Infections (CIRI)
- Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa CAPRISA
- Institute of Human Nutrition (IHN)
- International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs – ICAP
- Gertrude S. Sergievsky Center
- Global Mental Health Program (GMHP)
- Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research
- Columbia University
- Mailman School of Public Health
- The 2x2 Project
- Columbia University Medical Center
- "Mailman School of Public Health - Columbia University". Mailman.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- "Epidemiology | Academic Departments | Mailman School of Public Health". Mailman.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- "Columbia University Epidemiology Scientific Symposium | Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Mailman School". Cuess.org. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- "Columbia University Epidemiology Grand Rounds | Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Mailman School". Mailman.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- "For the Study of Disease and the Prevention Thereof…" (PDF). Aje.oxfordjournals.org. 1998-02-01. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- "Columbia University bulletin of information : the DeLamar Institute of Public Health : announcement". Archive.org. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- "Introduction" (PDF). Aje.oxfordjournals.org. 1998-02-01. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- Columbia University Bulletin of Information, Announcement of the School of Public Health of the Faculty of Medicine for the Winter and Spring Sessions 1946-47, p.9.https://archive.org/stream/columbiauniversi1945colu#page/n63/mode/2up
- Columbia University Bulletin of Information, Announcement of the School of Public Health of the Faculty of Medicine for the Winter and Spring Sessions 1946-47, p.18 https://archive.org/stream/columbiauniversi1945colu#page/n73/mode/2up
- Columbia University Bulletin of Information, Announcement of the School of Public Health of the Faculty of Medicine for the Winter and Spring Sessions 1982-84, p.7 https://archive.org/stream/columbiauniversi1982colu#page/6/mode/2up
- Columbia University Bulletin of Information, Announcement of the School of Public Health of the Faculty of Medicine for the Winter and Spring Sessions 1982-84, p.47 https://archive.org/stream/columbiauniversi1982colu#page/46/mode/2up
- Columbia University Bulletin, School of Public Health, 1995-97, p.41 https://archive.org/stream/columbiauniversi19951997colu#page/40/mode/2up
- Columbia University Bulletin, School of Public Health, 1993-95, p.40 https://archive.org/stream/columbiauniversi19931995colu#page/40/mode/2up
- Columbia University Bulletin, School of Public Health, 1999-2001, p.5 https://archive.org/stream/columbiauniversi19992001colu#page/4/mode/2up
- Columbia University Bulletin, School of Public Health, 2003, p.10 https://archive.org/stream/columbiauniversi2003colu#page/10/mode/2up
- Columbia University Bulletin, School of Public Health, 2003, p.12 https://archive.org/stream/columbiauniversi2003colu#page/12/mode/2up
- "Chronic Disease Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Mailman School". Mailman.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- "Injury Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Mailman School". Mailman.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- "Infectious Disease Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Mailman School". Mailman.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- "Lifecourse Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Mailman School". Mailman.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- "Psych/Neuro Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Mailman School". Mailman.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- "Social Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Mailman School". Mailman.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2013-06-26.