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Leaders Through the School's History

C.-E. A. Winslow, MS, DrPH (Hon.) Founding Chair 1915-1945

C.-E. A. Winslow
Yale’s first chair of public health and first holder of the Anna M.R. Lauder Professorship, Winslow was a world-renowned public health authority and a proponent of social medicine. He influenced health policies locally, nationally and internationally and wrote nearly 600 books and articles on bacteriology, sanitation, public health and health care administration. Winslow served as editor of the American Journal of Bacteriology and the Journal of Public Health. Read more.

Ira V. Hiscock, MA, ScD, MPH, Chair 1945-1960

Hiscock was a pioneer in cancer research. In the early 1930s, the New Haven Cancer Committee, which he chaired, found that the city had one of the highest cancer mortality rates in New England. The committee became a model for collection of uniform data and follow-up, leading to the establishment of the Connecticut Tumor Registry in 1935. Hiscock also conducted comprehensive health surveys throughout the United States and Samoa and led various World Health Organization panels.

Anthony M.-M. Payne, MD, M.R.C.P., Chair 1960-1966

Payne oversaw the merging of departments of epidemiology and public health and the reorganization of the degree programs. In 1962, the M.P.H. program became a two-year program. Payne previously served as chief medical officer of the Epidemic Diseases Division at the World Health Organization, where he directed worldwide studies on viral diseases.

Edward M. Cohart, MD, Chair 1966-1968

The first professor to hold the Winslow Chair, Cohart was an early investigator of the role of social factors in chronic illness. He studied such factors in relation to various cancers and did intensive research on the backgrounds and job requirements of public health workers. He was instrumental in forming a Cancer Control Program at Yale and conducted time studies of public health personnel.

Adrian M. Ostfeld, MD, MA, Chair 1968-1969

Former Anna M.R. Lauder Professor of Public Health, Ostfeld was internationally known for his research on the epidemiology of coronary heart disease, stroke and aging. He was head of the Yale Health and Aging Project and was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 1987.

Robert W. McCollum, MD, Chair 1969-1981

McCollum was noted for his work on viral infections, particularly hepatitis, infectious mononucleosis, mumps and rubella, and was involved in the development and field trials of several vaccines. After retiring from Yale he became dean of Dartmouth Medical School.

Colin White, M.B.B.S., Chair 1981-1982

A faculty member for over 50 years, White’s research focused on the development and application of biostatistical methods. This included contributions to understanding the validity of the case-control approach to study design. He was well-known for his research on inheritance in fraternal twins, as well as early studies on whether there was an association between oral contraceptives and cancer risk in women.

Jan A.J. Stolwijk, PhD, Chair 1982-1989, Acting Chair 1994-1995

Stolwijk was an associate fellow and then a fellow of the John B. Pierce Laboratory from 1957 to 1974 and associate director from 1974 to 1989. He was the Susan Dwight Bliss Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Yale School of Public Health. His research was in occupational health and indoor air pollution, and he wrote the first digital computer program to model heat flow in the human body for the NASA space program in 1966, in what became known as “The Stolwijk Model." Stolwijk also pioneered research on “sick building syndrome,” indoor air pollution, non-ionizing radiation, and other environmental health topics.

Burton H. Singer, MS, PhD, Associate Dean & Chair, 1989-1993

An expert in tropical disease research, Singer was chair of the Department of Statistics at Columbia University and chair of a World Health Organization steering committee for social and economic research in tropical diseases when he came to Yale in 1985. His research focuses on the development of mathematical and statistical methods for analysis of longitudinal surveys in sociology, economics and epidemiology; identification of social, biological and environmental risks associated with vector-borne diseases in the tropics and chronic diseases of the elderly; and integration of psychosocial and biological evidence to characterize pathways to alternative states of health.

Nancy H. Ruddle, PhD, Acting Chair 1993-1994, 2002

Nancy Ruddle is known for her discovery and analysis of lymphotoxin, a protein produced by T cells that plays a role in the protective immune system and destroys tumor cells. The 170-plus papers Ruddle has authored or co-authored explore the immunology of such diseases as leukemia, experimental allergic encephalomyelitis and Leishmania amazonensis infection. She is currently a professor emeritus and senior research scientist in epidemiology.

Theodore Holford, PhD, Acting Chair 2001

Holford is the Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health (Biostatistics). His work involves the development and application of statistical methods in public health and the training of individuals developing careers in health research. He developed an approach for analyzing temporal trends in disease rates using the age-period-cohort modeling framework that has be used extensively in the analysis of cancer incidence and mortality trends. He also developed and applied methods for using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in environmental epidemiology.

Michael H. Merson, MD, Dean & Chair 1995 - 2004

In April 1995, Merson joined Yale University School of Medicine as its first Dean of Public Health and as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, positions he held until December 2004. In 2001, he was named as the Anna M. R. Lauder Professor of Public Health in the Yale University School of Medicine. From 1999-2006, he also served as Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at Yale University, which undertakes research on HIV prevention in vulnerable and underserved populations in this country and abroad. He also led a number of training programs that strengthened the capacity of scientists in Russia, China, India and South Africa to undertake HIV/AIDS prevention research.

Brian P. Leaderer, PhD, MPH, Interim Dean & Chair 2005-2006

Dr. Leaderer is the Susan Dwight Bliss Professor and Deputy Dean of the Yale School of Public Health, Vice-Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health in the Yale School of Medicine, Professor of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Co-Director of the Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric and Environmental Epidemiology (CPPEE).

Dr. Leaderer’s research over the past three decades has been interdisciplinary in nature, focusing on assessing exposures to air contaminants, found indoors and outdoors, and assessing the health impact resulting from those exposures in epidemiological studies of sensitive at risk populations. Dr. Leaderer’s work includes assessing emissions from sources, developing monitoring methods and applying modeling techniques (CMAQ modeling, traffic models, land use, satellite data, etc.) to better assess the temporal and spatial distribution of pollutant concentrations and in formulating strategies to assess exposures in epidemiologic studies.

Paul D. Cleary, PhD, Dean & Chair 2006-2017

Dean Paul D. Cleary

Dr. Cleary's earliest work focused on studies of health behavior. He conducted theoretical and empirical research on smoking as well as patients’ perceptions and responses to physical symptoms and factors affecting use of medical care. He also studied the recognition and management of conditions such as mental illness, alcohol abuse and functional impairment in primary care settings. Dr. Cleary has been actively involved in research focused on persons infected with HIV and has investigated the ways in which infection affects people’s lives and the factors affecting the quality of medical care for infected persons. He is currently Principal Investigator of the Yale Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA) as well as one of the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) projects funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to develop information gathering surveys for consumers regarding their health plans and services.

Sten H. Vermund, MD, PhD, Dean, 2017-2022

Dr. Sten Vermund, the Anna M.R. Lauder Professor of Public Health, is a pediatrician and infectious disease epidemiologist focused on diseases of low and middle income countries. His work on HIV-HPV interactions among women in methadone programs motivated a change in the 1993 CDC AIDS case surveillance definition and inspired cervical cancer screening programs launched within HIV/AIDS programs around the world. The thrust of his research has focused on health care access, adolescent medicine, prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission and reproductive health.

Melinda Pettigrew, PhD, Interim Dean, 2022-2023

Photo by Mara Lavitt
Melinda Pettigrew

As Interim Dean, Pettigrew led the YSPH independence transition planning team and worked closely with leaders across Yale to solidify YSPH’s finances, operations, and academic programs in preparation for independence. She launched the Office of Academic Affairs in 2017 and held several leadership positions at YSPH, including Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Deputy Dean. Pettigrew was the Anna M. R. Lauder Professor of Epidemiology and an internationally recognized infectious disease epidemiologist whose research focused on the global threat of antibiotic resistance. She was a passionate and award-winning educator and developed the flagship course, Principles of Infectious Diseases I, for her home academic department, Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases.