UNLV History

School of Public Health

In its short history, the School of Public Health (SPH) has made great strides in disseminating information about public health research and practice. In 2003, Paul W. Ferguson, vice president for research and graduate studies, recognized the need for such a school in Nevada, given that rapid population growth threatened the capacity of the state's public health agencies to cope with new and emerging public health issues. Approved by the Board of Regents in 2004, SPH brought together programs housed in other colleges — environmental and occupational health, health promotion, and health care administration — as well as several research centers — the American Indian Research and Education Center, the Center for Health Disparities Research, and the Nevada Institute for Children's Research and Policy.

Continuous Growth

Dr. Mary Guinan, a nationally recognized expert in public health, became the founding dean, and the first classes began in spring 2005. By the fall of 2006, 82 undergraduates and 124 graduates were enrolled. The school now has 14 full-time academic faculty members, seven full-time research faculty, and 20 adjunct/graduate faculty. SPH offers undergraduate degree programs in health care administration and health promotion and a master of public health, a master of health care administration, and a master of education in health promotion. In June 2007, the school submitted a proposal for a doctoral program to the regents and plans to be accredited by the Council on Education in Public Health by 2009.

In 2007, three new research laboratories will open in SPH: the Environmental and Occupational Health Laboratory, Emerging Diseases Research Laboratory, and Center for Environmental and Health Surveillance. These important resources will not only provide valuable research experience to SPH students but also will contribute to the knowledge and understanding of public health threats in Nevada and populations most at risk.

Community Partnerships

True to its mission of improving people’s quality of life and eliminating health disparities, SPH has fostered partnerships with the community and public health organizations throughout the state of Nevada and the nation. The school has taken the lead on such issues as:

  • Promoting healthy behaviors.
  • Providing access to health care.
  • Finding solutions for health insurance coverage for Nevadans.
  • Eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities.
  • Preventing obesity-related diabetes.
  • Improving children’s health.
  • Preventing HIV infection.
  • Improving the quality of air, water, and food in Southern Nevada.

Well-Rounded Faculty

The school’s faculty represent a broad spectrum of interdisciplinary academic and research interests:

  • Timothy Bungum, associate professor of health promotion, founded and currently serves as editor-in-chief of the first peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the health of Nevadans, The Journal of the Nevada Public Health Association, an annual online publication of the Nevada Public Health Association.
  • In 2006, SPH began publishing the first online, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to health disparities research, The Journal for Health Disparities Research and Practice, which was co-founded by Michelle Chino, associate professor of environmental and occupational health, and Melva Thompson-Robinson, assistant professor of health promotion.
  • Graduate coordinator and professor of environmental and occupational health Linda Stetzenbach has served on the advisory board of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and on peer-review panels for the National Institutes of Health. She currently serves on the Committee on Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures, a steering committee for the National Biodefense and Countermeasures Center, which provides biodefense in support of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Supportive Environment

The school fosters a collegial and supportive environment in which students work closely with faculty, staff, practitioners, and other students. For their senior theses, students in the department of environmental and occupational health have produced outstanding research projects, such as:

  • "Lead Contamination Risks from Imported Candies: Developing a Protocol to Test for Lead in Candy Products Using the X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument" by Tracy L. Donnelly, '07.
  • "Drug Related Mortality: Post-Mortem Findings in Clark County, Nevada" by Melanie Gulmatico, '07.
  • "Residential Lead Hazards, Nutritional Deficiencies, and Socio-Cultural Factors Related to Hispanic Children with Blood Lead Levels >5ug/dL" by Elena Cabb, '07.

Successful Graduates

SPH’s graduates pursue successful public health careers as practitioners, leaders, and researchers. For example, Dr. Emmanual Grosope, '07 MPH, who holds an undergraduate degree in public health and a medical degree from the University of the Philippines, has authored or co-authored more than 15 papers while at UNLV on topics such as the emerging challenge of elderly immigrants for the U.S. health care system and the risk of dementia with increased body mass index. Dr. Grosope was recently accepted at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he will complete his postgraduate medical training.

Future Growth

Today, the School of Public Health is uniquely prepared to confront the complex public health challenges of the 21st century in Nevada. SPH looks forward to continued growth in student enrollment and the expansion of its partnerships and programs in the coming years. At UNLV’s 75th anniversary, the school will be an internationally recognized and accredited research institute; a vibrant center of excellence for public health teaching, research, and community action; and a magnet for state, national, and international students.

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