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Ralph R. Frerichs

Professor Emeritus


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Contact Information
Areas of Interest: 

Epidemiologic approaches to the assessment of community health needs; formulation of health care policies and outcome evaluation; internet applications; distance learning


Dr. Frerichs is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Epidemiology and past Chair twice of the Faculty Executive Committee at the UCLA School of Public Health. He was founding Chair (1988-2001) of the Epidemiology Department when it changed in 1988 from a division in a single-department School of Public Health (SPH). He was the first Chair of Epidemiology when the Department was founded in 1988 (previously a division in a one-department school), and served in that capacity for 13 years, resigning in 2001 to return to the general faculty.  Following retirement in October, 2008, Professor Frerichs continues teaching the summer version of EPI 100 Principles of Epidemiology; creates and manages internet-based educational sites; and does photography, specializing in panoramas of Western United States settings and landscapes.

Frerichs has pioneered the development of microcomputer applications for management oriented epidemiologists and decision-makers in less-developed countries. Included among these applications are rapid surveys and epidemiologic spreadsheet models for focused research. He also has developed HIV sentinel surveillance strategies, now in use in several Asian and South American countries, and evaluated tests for rapid, non-invasive HIV assessment to be used for surveillance and screening purposes.

Earlier in his career, Professor Frerichs conducted numerous cohort studies in Bogalusa, Louisiana, determining the natural history of cardiovascular risk factors in children.  Since coming to UCLA, he was principal investigator (PI) of a large cohort study of Los Angeles adults to assess the epidemiology of mental depression and help-seeking behavior, PI of an extensive environmental investigation to study the health effects of recycled wastewater, and other smaller domestic and international studies. 

In past decades, Dr. Frerichs has worked with various agencies on epidemiological- and management-related activities in Colombia, Bolivia, Honduras, Brazil, Kenya, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Mongolia, and islands of Micronesia.

In 1992 Professor Frerichs received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from Tulane University, School of Public Health (picture).  In 1997, he received jointly with Professor Roger Detels the Prestigious Plaque for HIV/AIDS Education from the Ministry of Public Health, Thailand and the College of Public Health, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.  From 1999 to 2002, Frerichs served on the Board of Directors of the American College of Epidemiology. In 2003 he became Chair of the UCLA Education Abroad committee, a post he held until 2005.

Professor Frerichs has chronicled on the internet the life and times of John Snow, the prominent British epidemiologist.  Included are a series of maps that present space and time descriptions of John Snow's London.  Frerichs has also documented the United States anthrax outbreak of 2001 as part of his website on epidemiology and bioterrorism, presenting news and commentaries. His website presents bioterrorism-related news articles by day in the two-year period following the devastations of September 11, 2001.Professor Frerichs has been a strong advocate for early HIV detection at the personal and community level and has shared widely his views by written and electronic modes of communication.Most recently Frerichs has authored a free on-line version of his Rapid Survey Course, a class he taught for two decades until his retirement on doing community-based two-stage cluster surveys. Finally, he is very interested in the broad use of the internet for education of epidemiologic concepts and principles, focusing on UCLA students, health professionals and the general public.

Professor Frerichs has two adult children, Peter and Christine. He was widowed in March 2001, following 33 years of marriage to Marcy M. Frerichs.  In September 2003 he married Rita J. Flynn in Florence, Italy. The couple resides in Sierra Madre, California, at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Committee Participation: 

Dr. Frerichs Chair of the SPH's Faculty Executive Committee for two terms (2002-2004 and 2006-2008).