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Photo of Pascal James Imperato

Pascal James Imperato, MD, MPH&TM, MACP

Dean and Distinguished Service Professor
School of Public Health

Tel: (718) 270-1056 • Fax: (718) 270-2533

  • About
Academic Qualifications:
  • MD: State University of New York Downstate Medical Center
  • MPH&TM: Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
Background and Expertise:

Dr. Pascal James Imperato is Founding Dean and Dean of the School of Public Health.  He is also Distinguished Service Professor and Director of the school’s Center for Global Health.  Prior to becoming Dean, he was Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health in the College of Medicine.  He received his BS degree in biology, magna cum laude, from St. John’s College where he was mentored by the distinguished biologist and parasitologist, Dr. C. William Lacaillade.  He received his MD degree from the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center, College of Medicine.  Following his second year, he was a Research Fellow of the Health Research Council of the City of New York.  He spent the summer in Downstate’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology studying Plasmodium berghei under the eminent parasitologist, Dr. Herbert Walton Cox.  He then spent several months of his fourth year as a Smith, Kline, and French Foreign Fellow providing medical care at Kowak, a remote bush clinic in the North Mara District of Tanganyika Territory (now Tanzania).  While there, he also conducted a study of malaria parasitemia in clinically healthy individuals, and studied traditional medical practices among the Luo people.  During this time and throughout his career, he came under the tutelage of Dr. Duncan W. Clark, Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Medicine and Community Health, and former Dean of the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

Dr. Imperato completed his residency in internal medicine at Long Island College Hospital where he was assigned to the Tropical Disease Clinic under Dr. William Gordon Mullin.  He then served as a physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers Baseball Club.  He was awarded the Glorney-Raisbeck Fellowship of the New York Academy of Medicine, and served his fellowship at the International Center for Medical Research and Training (ICMRT) located at the Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia, and at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, from where he received his MPH&TM degree.  While in Colombia, he worked with Dr. Paul David Pavy, III on his studies of ethnomedicine among healers along the Rio Raposo in the Pacific lowland rain forest.  At Tulane, he was mentored in parasitology by Dr. Paul Chester Beaver, and in tropical medicine by Dr. Philip Edmund Clinton Manson-Bahr.  An expert on leishmaniasis, Manson-Bahr encouraged him to study the disease in West Africa.  Upon graduating from Tulane, he was awarded the Tropical Medicine Prize and the Faculty Award for the Best Master’s Thesis.  He was also inducted into the Eta Chapter of the Delta Omega Society, the national honorary public health society.

Dr. Imperato was then recruited to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (then the Communicable Disease Center) by Dr. Alexander D. Langmuir, Director of the Epidemiology Branch, and Dr. Donald Ainsle Henderson, Head of the Smallpox Eradication Unit.  On joining the CDC, he entered the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service as a Lieutenant Commander, and is currently a Captain in the Inactive Reserve.  He served for six years as a medical epidemiologist with the Center in West Africa.  Based in Mali, he oversaw mass immunization campaigns against smallpox, measles, yellow fever, cholera, and meningococcal meningitis.  He also conducted research on these diseases as well as on leishmaniasis and histoplasmosis.  He studied traditional African therapeutic systems in Mali and their interactions with allopathic medicine.  His field studies of the art of the Bamana, Dogon, and Peul peoples of Mali are internationally valued in the field of African art scholarship.  For his work in Africa, the U.S. Department of State awarded him its Meritorious Honor Award and Medal, as did the U.S. Agency for International Development.

During his six-year tenure at the New York City Department of Health, Dr. Imperato successively served as Director of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control and Principal Epidemiologist, First Deputy Commissioner of Health, Director of the department’s Residency Training Program in Public Health, and as Chair of the New York City Swine Influenza Immunization Task Force.  Mayor Abraham D. Beame then appointed him as Commissioner of Health and Acting Health Services Administrator of New York City.  He also simultaneously served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, Chair of the New York City Board of Health, and chaired the Interagency Health Council and the Executive Committee of the Health Systems Agency.  He later served in these positions under Mayor Edward I. Koch.  His mentors at the New York City Department of Health were Dr. Lowell E. Bellin, who served as Commissioner of Health from 1974 to 1977, Dr. Aaron D. Chaves, Assistant Commissioner for Chronic and Communicable Diseases, Dr. Howard B. Shookhoff, Chief of the Division of Tropical Medicine, and Louis Neugeborn, Deputy Commissioner for Administration.

While at the New York City Department of Health, Dr. Imperato was Clinical Professor of Public Health at Cornell University Medical College and on the faculty of the School of Public Health at Columbia University.  On leaving the New York City Department of Health, he became Professor and Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health in the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, where he succeeded one of his mentors, Dr. Duncan W. Clark, an internationally eminent leader in public health and preventive medicine.  Dr. Imperato was later appointed Distinguished Service Professor.

In 2001, Dr. Imperato assumed the additional responsibility of Director of the Master of Public Health Program.  With the steady expansion of the program, in 2008 he became Dean of the Graduate Program in Public Health and the School of Public Health Initiative, and in 2009 Founding Dean and Dean of the School of Public Health.

Dr. Imperato was a member of the New York State Council on Graduate Medical Education, the Board for Professional Medical Conduct, the Board of Directors of the Primary Care Development Corporation, and the Board of Regents of Long Island College Hospital. He was also Vice-Chair and then Chair of the New York State Board for Medicine, which oversees the licensing of physicians in the state.  For several years was a member of the Fulbright Screening Committee for Africa.  He is a member of the Global Health Committee of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, a member of the Advisory Board of Physicians for Social Responsibility of New York City, and a member of the Advisory Council of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  Over the years, he has served as a consultant on health programs in Africa for the U.S. Agency for International Development and non-governmental organizations.  In 1985, he received a Fulbright Scholar Award to advise on the development of a medical school in the Yemen Arab Republic.

He served for seven years as editor of the New York State Journal of Medicine, chaired the Publications Committee of the American College of Epidemiology, now edits the Journal of Community Health, and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice and The Pharos.  He is the author of over 280 scientific papers, 24 books, and numerous articles on the art and history of Africa.

He headed several College of Medicine committees and task forces.  He served two 4-year terms as Chair of the Committee on Educational Policy and Curriculum (Curriculum Committee), chaired the Second Year Promotions Committee for twelve years, and was Chair of the Special Working Group on the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education Relationship.  In 2005-2006 he was the Chair of the Search Committee for the Dean of the College of Medicine.  His research in recent years has focused on clinical outcomes and health care quality improvement.

Since 1980, he has been the course director for the Global Health Elective, “Health Care in Developing Countries.”  Through this elective, he has arranged the placement of and supervised the overseas educational activities of some 361 fourth year Downstate medical students in 40 resource challenged countries in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and Oceania.  He has also obtained the extramural funding to support their travel.  He also served as course director for the required Second Year Course in Preventive Medicine and Community Health from 1978 to 1998.

Dr. Imperato is the recipient of numerous honors and awards.  He is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health.  In 1999, he received the New York City Department of Health’s Public Health Achievement Award, and in 2000, he was made a Master of the American College of Physicians (MACP).  In 2003, he was awarded the James D. Bruce Memorial Award for Distinguished Contributions in Preventive Medicine by the American College of Physicians, and in 2008, the Haven Emerson Award of the Public Health Association of New York City for distinguished contributions to public health in New York City.  He holds honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Tulane University and from St. John's University.

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