The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health has been working to build a healthier future for more than six decades. The examples that follow, interspersed throughout this section, are just a few of the many ways.
Dr. Ron Brookmeyer, a distinguished professor of biostatistics and member of the UCLA Fielding faculty since 2010, was appointed dean of the school in January 2020 after serving as interim dean since November 2018. An internationally renowned researcher, award-winning teacher and scholar, and elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, Brookmeyer earned worldwide recognition for predicting the magnitude of the impending HIV/AIDS epidemic with work beginning in the mid-1980s and, through widely cited studies, calling attention to the looming Alzheimer’s epidemic. As an expert on how statistical tools can address global public health challenges, he has also addressed issues of bio-security, disease surveillance, and health challenges of aging populations.
In response to a statewide need to rapidly prepare thousands of new contact tracers and case investigators to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, UCLA Fielding joined with UCLA Extension, UC San Francisco, and the California Department of Public Health in April 2020 to build the California Virtual Training Academy (VTA), which trained more than 15,000 public health workers for the state. As the pandemic evolved, VTA pivoted to meeting the needs of local health jurisdictions through additional training and support mechanisms. FSPH’s VTA team also expanded training efforts to other countries, including Armenia and the Andean Parliament, whose member countries include Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, and Peru.
With the field of healthcare administration experiencing dramatic growth as well as transforming to require new skill sets, UCLA Fielding established the online Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) degree program, which welcomed its initial class in 2021. The first MHA degree offered by the University of California system and FSPH’s first online executive program equips early- and mid-career healthcare professionals with skills in areas such as finance, strategic marketing, quantitative problem solving, and analytics.
Los Angeles appointed its first-ever chief heat officer in 2022 — and it was an FSPH alum, Marta Segura (MPH ’91). Segura also serves as director of Los Angeles’ Climate Emergency Mobilization Office.
In 2022, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health awarded a contract of approximately $21 million to a multidisciplinary UCLA team that includes co-principal investigators Dr. Michael Jerrett and Dr. Honghu Liu, as well as other FSPH faculty, staff, and students, to collect wide-ranging health information designed to obtain answers about the 2015 leak in an underground gas storage facility in Aliso Canyon, located immediately adjacent to a residential community in the northwest San Fernando Valley. The leak led to the largest-known human-caused release of methane in U.S. history.
In May 2023, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, chaired by Dr. Carol Mangione, UCLA Fielding professor of health policy and management, released draft recommendations urging all women to get mammography screening every other year starting at age 40. Previously, the task force had recommended women start mammograms at 50, with women ages 40-49 considering getting screened depending on personal risk.
Amid growing appreciation for public health’s central role in addressing society’s most pressing challenges, UCLA Fielding reintroduced the undergraduate public health major starting in spring 2023. UCLA undergraduates can now pursue a BA or a BS in public health. Exposing students to public health before graduate school is expected to help draw a more diverse pool of individuals to the profession, as well as providing students who end up in other professions important knowledge of public health principles such as health equity and disease prevention.
To meet the growing demand for individuals able to thrive in an environment often characterized as “big data,” UCLA Fielding established a new Master of Data Science in Health (MDSH) program through FSPH’s Department of Biostatistics, starting in Fall Quarter 2023. The hybrid program, geared to meet the demands of working professionals as well as recent graduates, provides advanced training in data management, data analytics, statistical modeling, machine learning, and big-data computing.
In a series of events throughout 2023 celebrating the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s six-plus decades of achievement, FSPH students, faculty, staff, graduates, and friends have commemorated the school’s historic impact as well as celebrating its current prominence, and the path to building a healthier future together.