by George Humphrey and Kevin Rademacher
AHSC Public Affairs
The Arizona Board of Regents voted Jan. 20 to establish the first College of Public Health in the Southwestern United States.
Based at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center (AHSC) in Tucson, the new College of Public Health will build on previously established public health partnerships and collaborations throughout the state.
The UA College of Public Health consolidates the UA Prevention Center; the Arizona Graduate Program in Public Health, which is a collaboration with the UA, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University; the UA Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Epidemiology; the UA Undergraduate Health Education Major; and the UA General Preventive Medicine Residency Program.
A $10 million gift from Canyon Ranch Inc. to the Arizona Prevention Center in 1997 made possible statewide expansion of AHSC disease prevention and health promotion programs and greatly facilitated the creation of a UA College of Public Health.
Dr. James E. Dalen, UA vice president for health sciences and dean of the College of Medicine, said, "We believe the Regents' action today represents an important milestone for the future of health promotion and disease prevention in Arizona. We have been working for 10 years to establish this much-needed college, which will work closely with agencies, communities and individuals statewide to provide the critical education, research and service needed to address our state's public health challenges."
Dr. Kent Campbell, director of the University of Arizona Prevention Center, will serve as dean of the College of Public Health until a formal search is completed. "The College of Public Health will promote partnerships that respond to community needs," Campbell said, adding the College will serve as a critical resource for evaluating and improving programs and for training the staff who will lead these important health efforts in communities throughout Arizona.
Our state's pressing health concerns stem largely from poor health behaviors, such as addiction to tobacco and alcohol, overeating and lack of physical activity, he said.
"We see a role for the College of Public Health to contribute strong research and program evaluation to a wide range of the state's health-promotion programs, including its tobacco-control efforts," Campbell said. "In this role we complement the efforts of the state and local health departments and community organizations that provide the direct programs."
Among other activities, the UA College of Public Health will work throughout the state to conduct research, provide education and support programs to improve community and personal health through the promotion of healthy behaviors, improved access to effective preventive health care and the reduction of environmental hazards.
The college also will advance public health education in Arizona and the Southwest to help address the serious shortage of well-trained health personnel.
College of Public Health research priorities include:
- The Arizona Program for Nicotine and Tobacco Research, which conducts research and provides statewide service and outreach for smoking prevention and cessation.
The Southwest Center for Community Health Promotion, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research center focusing on health promotion in multicultural border communities
- The Arizona Women's Health Initiative, a 14-year research effort to assess prevention strategies for heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis among women, ages 60-79
- Health promotion among youth, including substance-abuse prevention, eating disorders and the assessment of prevention services for children in managed care programs
- Nutrition and physical activity programs for seniors
- Environmental and occupational health hazards, including studies of pesticides and toxic exposures along the Arizona-Mexico border
- Health promotion among Native Americans and other ethnic minority groups
- Enhancing the delivery of prevention services in managed care systems
University of Arizona in the News