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Data, Leadership, and Collaboration at the School of Public Health

A gift from Indra Nooyi and Raj Nooyi will help train tomorrow’s public health leaders.
Indra and Raj Nooyi

Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) has long emphasized both data science and data-driven health leadership. Equitable data science makes transformational and impactful research possible, resulting in innovations that advance and improve public health, from identifying new cancer treatments to creating guidelines reducing pollution’s health impact.

A new two-part gift to YSPH builds on this fundamental focus on data, while supporting an ongoing, collaborative educational program with the Yale School of Management (SOM). The gift, from former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, a 1980 graduate of the Yale School of Management, and her husband Raj Nooyi, will advance the school’s efforts to train students as leaders in data-driven public health improvement of people’s wellbeing at local, national, and global scales. The Nooyis have previously supported YSPH with an endowed professorship.

“I am so grateful to Indra and Raj for their strategic, farsighted support of these two important programs,” said YSPH Dean Megan L. Ranney. “We can’t be great public health data science leaders without investment – or without partnerships.”

Leading the Way with Data

“The Yale School of Public Health has a long record of accomplishment in data-driven, impactful research. During the COVID-19 pandemic, its researchers provided policymakers in Connecticut and internationally with timely data-driven insights to help guide emergency response. The school also educates future leaders who use public health data science and data equity to enable transformational research in the face of quickly changing methods, technology, and societal shifts,” says Indra Nooyi. “That track record was a significant factor in our decision to support the school.”

The Nooyis’ gift creates an endowed data science resource fund that can be used to advance teaching and research at the school. For example, recent research showed that RSV vaccines would decrease illness and death if deployed like flu shots and was used to develop a dynamic new tool for evaluating the effectiveness of large-scale public health interventions. In April, the school held an international gathering to improve equity in accessing and using high-quality health data. But as sources of data explode and artificial intelligence becomes more powerful, YSPH must expand its efforts to remain a leader in the field.

The Nooyis’ gift has enabled YSPH to recruit one of the world’s most influential public health data scientists. The school recently appointed award-winning statistician Bhramar Mukherjee, PhD, as its inaugural Senior Associate Dean of Public Health Data Science and Data Equity. The deanship, made possible by the Nooyis’ gift, is an important new leadership position that reflects the school’s focus on data science as a critical pillar for the future of public health. She joins YSPH on Aug. 1, 2024.

“Dr. Bhramar Mukherjee works at the cutting edge of public health data collection and analysis, with an eye towards global data equity,” Ranney said. “Her recruitment advances our goal of leading the future of public health data science.”

A Collaborative Degree

A portion of the Nooyis’ gift supports the continued success of the Health Care Management Program, run by YSPH and the Yale School of Management. Students take classes at both schools, earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in healthcare management, and can pursue an MBA. Graduates of the program have become leaders of hospitals, public health systems, and health startups.

Howard Forman, a professor at both schools and a diagnostic radiologist at Yale New Haven Hospital, directs the program. “Our program is the best in the country, and the Nooyis’ support will help us remain financially affordable to students,” notes Forman.

One of the marquee events of the Health Care Management Program is a yearly conference that brings over 500 health care professionals to Yale SOM, including many of the program’s current students and alumni. The event celebrated its twentieth year in 2024. “The conference draws on academic rigor but emphasizes practice,” says Forman. “It’s a place where alumni and students can learn from each other.”

Ranney notes that YSPH is Yale’s newest independent school, transitioning from being a department of the Yale School of Medicine. “That means gifts like these have an outsize impact. Indra and Raj’s gift allows our school to continue to grow as world leaders of public health.”