Message from the Director

Welcome to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) Graduate Program in Public Health.

With an ever-growing student body, public health education draws from a wide diversity of backgrounds, strengths, and interests and will enhance the dynamic atmosphere that is the hallmark of our program. I warmly welcome you and look forward to getting to know you over the coming years.

Our program has experienced some exciting new developments in recent years. Since joining the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, the national organization of CEPH-accredited schools and programs as a founding member last summer, our program has grown both in quality and quantity. We have expanded our curriculum and course offerings, and recruited new faculty. We have firmly established our eight tracks rounding out what is a comprehensive and interdisciplinary set of specializations in public health education.

We offer several dual degrees including a Medical Doctor/Master’s of Public Health (MD/MPH), a Master’s of Public Health/Master’s of Social Work (MPH/MSW), with the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, and a Doctor’s of Podiatric Medicine/Master’s of Public Health (DPM/MPH), with New York College of Podiatric Medicine.

We also have an Advanced Certificate in Public Health. This academic year we will offer new courses on public health advocacy, public health law, chronic disease epidemiology, public health informatics, Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) programing, and various thesis/capstone seminars for the different tracks. And last but not least, thanks to our dedicated staff and students, we now have our own biannual newsletter The Scoop.

I want to encourage all students to reach out to their track advisors and course directors early on to seek advice and mentorship. Meet with our faculty, staff, and co-students at ISMMS and become involved in public health research, advocacy, and practice.

A few years ago, I worked as a public health manager in Sierra Leone. I helped set up an epidemiological surveillance system, supervised a malaria resistance study, and trained underpaid and therefore unmotivated health workers. Contact with patients was not the priority; I was supposed to care for the national health policy, not for specific patients. Like all policies, national health policies are influenced by societal needs, economic capacities and, sometimes, nationalistic sentiments. They do not aim to bring rapid relief to a suffering individual, but to set conditions for a given society to become “healthier.” Their slow evolution and implementation can often be tiring and frustrating. We all know of countless examples, from the Affordable Care Act here in the United States, to achieving the Millennium Development Goals globally.

My vision for everyone in public health at ISMMS is that we always remember that for a human being in distress what really matters is the here and now. Improving the health of human beings is the essence of public health. Keeping the individual at the center of all our work also helps us approach overwhelming or unimaginable problems without despairing. By focusing on the suffering human being, public health professionals go beyond mere analysis and implementation of health policies. We offer choices where there were none; we provide a human touch in an inhumane environment; and we may ultimately help reestablish human dignity. I welcome everyone at our program to make this vision a reality.

Nils Hennig, MD, PhD, MPH
Director, Graduate Program in Public Health
Associate Director, Global Health Center
Assistant Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine & Department of Pediatrics
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai