Mary Guinan

Founding Dean, School of Public Health
Expertise: Community health, Sexually transmitted disease, Epidemics, Infectious disease


Mary Guinan is the founding dean of the School of Public Health at UNLV. She is a physician/scientist and a professor of epidemiology and community health. She was among the first scientists in America to identify the emerging AIDS cases of the 1980s as part of an epidemic and has been a leading researcher and educator on sexually transmitted diseases for more than 30 years. 

Working extensively to improve the health of all Nevadans, Guinan led an exhaustive study of the childhood leukemia cluster, which affected the rural Nevada town of Fallon. She also played a substantial role in getting Clark County's water supply fluoridated.

During her 20-year career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), she became the first woman to serve as chief scientific advisor to the director of the CDC.

As founding dean of the School of Community Health Sciences, Guinan is passionate about public health. Her complex mission involves working in a network with local, state, and federal health authorities, conducting scientific research, eliminating health gaps between socioeconomic and ethnic groups, and providing quality education for students and the public.

Board Certification

Certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, 1977, and the subspecialty Infectious Diseases, 1978.

American Board Preventive Medicine and Public Health, 1999.

Professional Honor

Elected to Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in 1981 for excellence in research.


  • B.A., Hunter College, City University of New York
  • M.D., Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Ph.D., Physiology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas

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Mary Guinan In The News

Washington Post
March 9, 2021
Our health and well-being have been hot topics this past year as the world has tackled a deadly coronavirus. Hardly a day goes by without some warning or advice being given as to how to safeguard the public’s health. To celebrate Women’s History Month, KidsPost is highlighting two women active in this effort.
Game Changers in Medicine
August 14, 2020
You may have heard the story of Edward Jenner, the milkmaids, and the discovery of the smallpox vaccine. But is that story really true? In today’s episode, Dr. Pillay pulls back the curtain to reveal some little-known serendipity behind the discovery of the world’s first vaccine. As scientists strive to find a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, does that long-ago medical breakthrough have lessons to teach us even today? Listen to find out.
Wall Street Journal
April 17, 2020
Doctors believe that the disease may have gone dormant and then come back, posing more challenges for testing
The Independent
December 16, 2019
The memoirs of Mary Guinan and Cornelia E Davis in the 1970s reveal their battle with curing smallpox in India, while fighting sexism along the way

Articles Featuring Mary Guinan

Mary Guinan, in traditional dress in an Afghan refugee camp
People | March 29, 2016

When her plans to become an astronaut did not pan out, Mary Guinan created an equally impressive legacy eradicating diseases and founding a school.

Campus News | December 3, 2015

From law to health to advocacy to science, UNLV professors tackle HIV prevention, education and treatment both domestically and abroad.

Business and Community | February 12, 2014
UNLV professors weigh in on some of the state’s big battles and quiet victories in community health.