Description of the Department of Public Health Sciences
Our department envisions an array of multi-disciplinary programs that are capable of monitoring health trends and identifying disease-causing agents, assessing the medical care needs of populations, providing high quality preventive and curative treatment for everyone in our society, and measuring the outcomes of these interventions in the population and for individual patients. Reaching this goal is a formidable challenge for the United States, given our historically limited investment in public health, the fragmented system of health care currently in place, and our weak capacity to monitor quality and outcomes.
The Loyola Department of Public Health Sciences seeks to play a role in helping us reach this goal of a universal, integrated health system through research and teaching. In particular, we believe the need to address health inequalities among racial, ethnic and other marginalized populations is the most urgent challenge the US health system faces. Since its inception the Department’s research and service has been largely focused on that challenge. Health inequalities do not stop at national borders and our Department also has a long tradition of global health research and education in public health.
The graphs above highlight the enormous strengths of public health and epidemiology, and the reality that new threats to health will continue to emerge. During the 20 years after WWII the causal risk factors for heart disease and stroke were identified, and mortality has now dropped 80%. In the last several decades, however, obesity and diabetes have emerged as global epidemics, exacting a huge toll in premature death and morbidity; up till now no country has been able to reverse this trend. As we learned in the campaign to control cardiovascular diseases, all the disciplines of public health and clinical medicine will have to join forces if we hope to reduce the population burden of obesity and diabetes. We know the basic character of the research and implementation science that will be required, but every epidemic is unique. A new generation of health researchers and practitioners will have to take up today’s unsolved challenges and make the discoveries that will lay the foundation for prevention and treatment campaigns that will further advance the healthy human lifespan.
To help meet that challenge our Department provides a range of educational opportunities for medical and public health students, as well as consulting in study design and analysis for all Departments of the school. Our faculty also conduct their own extramurally funded research in nutrition, survey research, genetic epidemiology and clinical research, among other topics. The Department strives to maintain a policy of open exchange and collaboration and the faculty who lead our research and educational programs are eager to share their enthusiasm and insight with both students and established investigators. Improving the health of populations is a rewarding career – and the science that makes those advances possible can be a rewarding intellectual adventure.