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SUNY Downstate Medical Center


Public Health for a Global Community

Pascal James Imperato, MD, MPH&TM, MACP
Dean and Distinguished Service Professor
School of Public Health


The State University of New York Downstate Medical Center's School of Public Health is an exciting institution that builds upon the medical center's long tradition of excellence in education, research and community service. The Downstate Medical Center is an environment rich in tradition, but also one in which faculty, graduates and students share a vision for the future. That vision for Brooklyn is an exciting one, full of hope, possibilities and challenges.

Downstate’s School of Public Health is achieving that vision. This forward-thinking school symbolizes a re-affirmation of commitment on behalf of the medical center to the diverse peoples of Brooklyn. Through the School of Public Health we are creating an environment for faculty and students to enhance their goals for improving health and the quality of life in our communities. A series of health reports delineated in concrete statistical terms the significant morbidities affecting Brooklyn’s population and illuminated some disturbing disparities in disease prevalence. These health report findings, as well as the fact that Brooklyn is a borough of immigrants where a large percentage of the population was born outside the United States, have served to focus our program on urban and immigrant health.

Public health is more than a collection of clinical preventive services provided to individual patients. While such clinical preventive services are very important, our school strives to also involve faculty and students in population based health. Through this approach one can promote health and prevent disease in the population as a whole. The integration of these two approaches lowers the barriers that have historically separated individual health from public health. We are hopeful that in time our integrative approach will be enhanced by a cadre of our graduates helping us forge partnerships with our various Brooklyn communities to promote both individual and public health.

The School of Public Health developed out of our Master of Public Health Program that began in 2001 with a focus on urban and immigrant health.  It offers a Master of Public Health degree in which students may choose one of five advising concentrations:  biostatistics, community health sciences, environmental and occupational health sciences, epidemiology, and health policy and management.  It also offers a Doctor of Public Health degree in which students may choose one of the following three advising concentrations: community health sciences, environmental and occupational health sciences, and epidemiology. The School also offers a 15 credit Advanced Certificate in Public Health. All of the SPH degree and certificate programs are nationally accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health. Collectively, these diverse programs have a special focus on urban and immigrant health and address health and healthcare disparities and the leading public health issues that affect the populations we serve. Our Center for Global Health links preventive interventions here in Brooklyn among immigrant populations and among the communities from which they have emigrated overseas. The educational activities under the center include the Global Health in Developing Countries elective for fourth year medical students, in which 375 students have participated in 41 host countries. Another initiative is the Global Health Practical Field Experience for MPH students through which they satisfy the practicum for the MPH degree. Students have participated in this program in Haiti, India, Jamaica, and South Africa. In 2013, the school established the Global Health Pathway in the new curriculum of the College of Medicine. The newest initiative which was launched under Dr. Imperato’s leadership is the Peace Corps Master’s International Program, which began in 2014.

The School of Public Health has an enrollment of 250 students and offers 53 courses extended over three semesters in the academic year. The faculty of the program includes nationally respected leaders in public health who have distinguished themselves in their respective specialties through teaching, research and service. Our school's faculty is also enriched by professionals from other departments of the College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Health Related Professions, the School of Graduate Studies, the University Hospital of Brooklyn, affiliated hospitals and institutions, and community based organizations. This provides our students with easy access to the rich diversity of faculty expertise found in the only academic medical center in Brooklyn.

Students who enter our School of Public Health represent a broad range of both health care professionals and non-health care professionals. Among them are recent college graduates, nurses, lawyers, administrators, physician assistants, medical students, and physicians. The majority of our students come from under-represented minority groups, reflecting the rich population diversity of Brooklyn. Our courses have been greatly enriched by the unique perspectives they each contribute to the public health learning experience.

Our School of Public Health can offer you exciting educational, research and service opportunities, and provide you with the credentials to further your career. Please take some time to visit our web site and also to interact with our outstanding faculty. If you wish to speak with us, please don't hesitate to contact us by telephone, mail or e-mail. You will find us ready to answer your questions and assist you in the pursuit of your public health career goals. Warm greetings from Downstate and from Brooklyn.