Group photo of DPHS faculty standing on steps in front of building on MUSC campus

A Message from the Chairman

Public Health Sciences

Welcome to the Department of Public Health Sciences!

Dr. Vena in blue suit leaning against a tree in front of a MUSC building

I am pleased to have this opportunity to greet you and share some information about theDepartment of Public Health Sciences (DPHS). We are one of the newest and fastest growing academic units and we have a wonderful cadre of faculty and students. Our Vision is to cultivate a healthier tomorrow through leadership in Public Health Sciences. Our mission is to advance knowledge and scholarship in public health through its core activities in research, collaboration, education, and service to enable positive health outcomes locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. Our department offers many exciting career opportunities in public health and provides excellent training to prepare graduate students for both academic and professional prospects. If you are a prospective student, public health scientists are in great demand.

Bioinformatics; Biomedical Informatics; Health Systems and Policy; Environmental Health; Epidemiology; Health Behavior and Health Promotion) has focused on their specific area of expertise to help expand research and collaboration. The Data Coordination Unit (DCU) and the Collaborative Unit (CU) also continue to grow and excel.

The department’s research mission is based on 3 pillars: Focused team science, community engaged research, and disparities in health and health care equity. These pillars are supported by the Divisional areas and a range of cross cutting themes. First, collaborative research in clinical and translational applications has a strong emphasis in the department. Biostatistics and bioinformatics faculty are involved in many funded projects across clinical and population health areas. Bioinformatics and medical informatics form the core of Biomedical Data Sciences with a focus on ‘Big Data’. This area spans genomic data, electronic health record data mining and precision medicine, microbiome informatics, and large scale population health mapping and health surveillance. Second, the area of clinical trial design is an important integrative focus. Global health is also a strong theme within the group with a variety of faculty collaborating on funded global heath projects focused on HIV and sexual behavior, disparities and access to care, and malaria interventions. Other areas of focus include auto-immune diseases, health disparities in relation to diabetes and to cancer prevention and survival, spatial and environmental epidemiology.

Education

The DPHS’ MPH programs, which officially enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, has matriculated three classes since its start with 65 students across three programs – Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Health Behavior and Health Promotion. Each year students help do outreach to the MUSC and general public by participating in STEM events and successfully coordinating National Public Health Week on the MUSC campus.

The DPHS has been working on a joint doctoral program in Biomedical Data Science and Informatics with Clemson, as well as modifying the current doctoral and master’s degrees in epidemiology and biostatistics. The joint doctoral program in Biomedical Data Science and Informatics with Clemson accepted its first students who started in the fall 2017. In addition, the DPHS has developed and finalized 3 accelerated M.P.H. degree programs with Clemson (BA/MPH or BS/MPH—Sequential 4 +1).

This past year there were 11 seminars hosted by the DPHS and its faculty members that included local and national speakers. Topics varied and included digital health interventions, women’s health, infertility treatment and early childhood development, interventions to reduce household air pollution, statistical data integration methods for environmental exposures, and the use of wearable sensors to address gaps in data. Our Brown Bag Lunch and Departmental Seminar Series are held on Mondays at noon and location information can be found on our events page..

Research

In November 2016, the DPHS, along with the Center for Global Health, hosted an incredibly successful “Building Healthy Communities through Global Innovation and Partnership” symposium. The symposium brought together national and international researchers, including from Ghana, Ethiopia, University of Alabama, Clemson, and Johns Hopkins, and helped foster relationships for future collaborations. 

The department is adept in our extramural funding efforts for both research and training. We have a relatively significant portfolio in grants (both independent and collaborative) and a relatively small amount of unfunded time. On the research side we are quite efficient at collaborating not only with colleges/departments at MUSC but also at other institutions both in and outside of SC; supporting major program and project grants at MUSC such as SCTR; and various U01 and U54 at HCC and in other departments. The DPHS had a very dynamic year in regards to grant awards and submissions (with grant submissions doubling this past year.)

The department also has a robust tradition of significant collaboration with public and private health agencies and institutions, including strong collaborative ties with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and State and Regional offices of Public Health. Please feel free to contact me at vena@musc.edu if you have any questions. For any interested prospective students, we would be happy to connect you with faculty or students who have common interests. We also encourage a visit to Charleston, SC and the MUSC campus to learn about the quality of life and opportunities for faculty and students. If this is your first visit to our website, we welcome you to become a friend or member of the DPHS family.

With best wishes,

Dr. John E. Vena
Professor and Founding Chair