GSU’s public health program gains academic heft as Atlanta raises its profile as a center for global health

By David Pendered

Georgia State University has received the green light to transition its Institute of Public Health to the GSU School of Public Health, which will strengthen the program as an independent college within the university.

An alumna of GSU’s Institute of Public Health, Christy Kill, now works with a program in Nicaragua that is seeking to improve the quality of life of infants and young children. Here, youngsters are taught how to cleanse their hands. Credit: GSU

An alumna of GSU’s Institute of Public Health, Christy Kill, now works with a program in Nicaragua that is seeking to improve the quality of life of infants and young children. Here, youngsters are taught how to cleanse their hands. Credit: GSU

The authority to expand the program arrives at a time metro Atlanta’s civic leaders are pressing for the region to become a leading center for global health. Georgia State’s existing public health program specializes in urban health, chronic diseases and violence prevention.

Brown University, the Ivy League school in Rhode Island, is the only other institution authorized in the June 8 review cycle to expand its public health program to a school of public health. The approval was granted by the accrediting agency, Council on Education for Public Health.

Georgia State now is the only public university in metro Atlanta to offer a graduate school of public health. Related programs include the Rollins School of Public Health, at Emory University; and the Public Health Sciences Institute, at Morehouse College, which is an undergraduate program in the math division that trains students interested in entering a school of public health.

The shift at Georgia State will enable the university to add academic weight to a program that already is producing students who aim to improve the quality of life in metro Atlanta and around the world.

“Our faculty is conducting cutting-edge research and our centers are designing—and, perhaps more importantly, implementing—real-world solutions, partnering with community organizations in Atlanta and beyond to develop evidence-based answers to public health challenges cities across the globe face,” Michael P. Eriksen, founding dean of the Institute of Public Health, said in a statement.

Consider only the Partnership for Urban Health Research, which is one of four initiatives of GSU’s existing Institute of Public Health – the other initiatives being the Center for Healthy Development, Center of Excellence on Health Disparities Research, and Policy Leadership for Active Youth.

The Partnership for Urban Health Research focuses on ways in which the urban environment of metro Atlanta affects the health and well-being of people who live and work in the region. Academicians and students examine groups of people who suffer a disproportionate share of illnesses, and look for ways to address their situations.

The program addresses chronic disease and aging; HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases; injury and violence; and substance abuse and mental health.

The program looks at the four areas through a prism that GSU calls “crosscutting research capacity.” That entails the use of biostatistics and research design, communication, geographic information systems, law, and qualitative and quantitative research methods, according to GSU’s website.

Georgia State got the news about the approval of its request to expand its program to a school about two weeks after the “Global Health Summit” convened in Atlanta. The summit, on May 20, gathered together a collection of government, nonprofit and business entities that are seeking new solutions to global hunger and malnutrition. An account of the summit that appeared in SaportaReport.com showed the depth of resources that Atlanta-based institutions can bring to bear on a global health issue.

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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