The Mount Sinai Department of Preventive Medicine
Mount Sinai’s Department of Preventive Medicine, formerly known as the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, is internationally renowned for excellence in preventive medicine, occupational and environmental medicine, community health, and environmental pediatrics. The department is among the largest medical school departments of preventive medicine in the United States. Our mission is to prevent disease, protect the environment, and promote health in all the communities Mount Sinai serves.
The Department of Preventive Medicine consists of 57 full-time faculty, 137 adjunct and voluntary faculty, and 265 staff. The department’s overall budget in FY 2008 was $35.8 million.
The Department of Preventive Medicine undertakes interdisciplinary research in:
- Preventive medicine
- Public health
- Environmental and occupational medicine
- Social sciences
The department has 10 divisions:
- Biostatistics & Data Management
- Environmental Health Science
- Preventive Medicine
- International Health
- Family Medicine
- Social & Behavioral Science
- Health Care Management and Practice
- The Thomas C. Chalmers Clinical Trials Unit
- Irving J. Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine
The department’s academic programs train medical students for residency programs in general preventive medicine and in occupational and environmental medicine. We have a fellowship program in environmental pediatrics and the medical school's master’s in public health (MPH) program.
The foundation our educators provide enables medical and MPH students, residents, and fellows to offer their services to workers exposed to occupational hazards, workers and volunteers whose health was affected by the World Trade Center disaster, and children exposed to environmental toxins.
Irving J. Selikoff, MD, considered the “father of occupational medicine” in the United States, was responsible for establishing Mount Sinai’s first environmental health laboratory and served as its director from 1960 to 1985. Now named the Irving J. Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the Center is an internationally recognized center of excellence in occupational and environmental medicine.
Dr. Selikoff is remembered for his seminal research on asbestos-related illness, his tireless advocacy on behalf of health care for the working class, and his key role in creating the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).
Past chairmen of the Department of Preventive Medicine have included:
- George James, MD, the first chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine in 1968. Dr. James was a former Commissioner of Health of New York City and was the founding dean of the Icahn School of Medicine. He is internationally recognized as a pioneer in urban public health.
- Kurt W. Deuschle, MD, known as the “father of community medicine.” Dr. Deuschle succeeded Dr. James in 1968 and served as chair until 1990. He established the department as a preeminent center of scholarship in urban community health.
Dr. Deuschle is remembered for his deep commitment to partnership with Mount Sinai’s neighboring community of East Harlem. He is recognized for having expanded the scope of community medicine to include anthropology, the social sciences, and environmental studies, and for having trained a generation of leaders in American public health.
Current chairman: Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc
Our current chairman is Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc. Dr. Landrigan has been chair since 1990. Dr. Landrigan is a pediatrician and epidemiologist who served previously at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH). He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and president of the Collegium Ramazzini.
Dr. Landrigan is a national and international leader in public health and in occupational and environmental medicine. In the early 1970s, he participated in the CDC’s Global Smallpox Eradication Campaign with extended overseas tours of duty in El Salvador and northern Nigeria. Between 1970 and 1980, he and his research team at the CDC played a key role in generating data on the toxicity of lead at low levels. These data persuaded the Environmental Protection Agency to remove lead from gasoline, an action that brought about a 90 percent reduction in the incidence of lead poisoning among U.S. children.
From 1980 to 1990, Dr. Landrigan chaired committees at the National Academy of Sciences, most notably the Committee on Environmental Neurotoxicology and the Committee on Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children. The report of the Committee on Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children created the intellectual basis for far-reaching reform of federal pesticide law and was instrumental in passage of the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 — the first federal environmental law to contain explicit provisions for protecting children’s health.
In 1997, under the guidance of EPA administrator Carol Browner, Dr. Landrigan helped create the Office of Children’s Health Protection at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He was an architect of the National Children’s Study. The Department of Preventive Medicine has worked closely with the World Health Organization on issues pertaining to children’s environmental health.
At Mount Sinai, Dr. Landrigan has strengthened the department’s research base, training programs, and clinical services in environmental, occupational, and preventive medicine, by:
- Being the principal architect of New York’s unique statewide network of Clinical Centers of Excellence in Occupational Medicine
- Overseeing the creation of the Mount Sinai Irving J. Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine
- Guiding the development of Mount Sinai’s World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program, which was established to care for the men and women who responded to the 9/11 attacks
- Leading development of the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center
- Serving as principal investigator for the National Children’s Study in New York and northern New Jersey
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