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Leadership Change in Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology

May 15, 2024

After nine and a half years as Chair of the Yale School of Public Health’s Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Dr. Judith Lichtman, PhD, MPH, is stepping down effective June 30, 2024, Dean Megan L. Ranney announced Tuesday. Dr. Xiaomei Ma, PhD, will assume department leadership as interim chair for one year, with the possibility of renewal.

Lichtman is a proud Yale alumna who obtained her MPH at Yale in 1988 followed by a PhD in 1996. After a four-year stint as an associate research scientist in neurology, Lichtman joined YSPH as an assistant professor of epidemiology (chronic diseases) in 2001. She became chair of the Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology in 2015 and was elevated to professor four years later. She was named the Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases) in 2021. Lichtman is nationally recognized for her research into the epidemiology of stroke and heart disease. In addition to her department responsibilities, she also serves as director of the Humanities, Arts, and Public Health Practice at Yale (HAPPY) Initiative and co-director of the Center for Neuroepidemiology and Clinical Neurological Research at Yale.

Lichtman’s impactful research has advanced science and provided valuable insights to her field that will improve outcomes and care. Her work with HAPPY has been recognized across Yale and made YSPH a leader in leveraging the rich resources of the humanities and arts to convey important messages in public health. Ranney personally thanked Lichtman for her years of leadership and service to the school in a schoolwide email.

Ranney also thanked Ma for stepping into the role of interim chair. Like Lichtman, Ma has been with the Yale School of Public Health for more than two decades. After obtaining a PhD in epidemiology from the University of California at Berkeley in 2001 and a brief stint as a research scientist there, Ma arrived at YSPH as an assistant professor in 2003. She was promoted to associate professor in 2009 and professor with tenure in 2017. She currently serves as co-leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program at the Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center, Yale School of Medicine.

Ma studies the etiology and health outcomes of different types of cancer, with a focus on pediatric cancer and malignancies of the hematopoietic system. With formal training in epidemiology, biostatistics, and medicine, she also investigates the patterns of care and prognosis of patients with different types of cancer, with a specific interest in cancer screening. She co-founded the Yale Cancer Outcomes, Public Policy, and Effectiveness Research (COPPER) Center with Dr. Cary Gross.

“Having spent 20 years at the Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, I have a strong sense of belonging and am committed to doing everything I can to help make the department the best it can be, along with all faculty, staff and students,” Ma said of her new role.

Lichtman said: “It has been a tremendous honor to serve as the Chair of Chronic Disease Epidemiology for three terms, spanning almost a decade. During this time, I have had the opportunity to support our amazing faculty, staff, and students as they navigate their exciting and productive careers. There is nothing more rewarding than helping others achieve their personal and professional goals. I have thoroughly enjoyed this experience and look forward to continuing to contribute to CDE and YSPH as the Director of the Humanities, Arts, and Public Health Practice at Yale (HAPPY) Initiative.”

Submitted by Colin Poitras on May 15, 2024