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This is an exciting time to study public health. The field is experiencing an unprecedented level of attention as the nation continues to better prepare itself for a variety of threats to its health and security. As a result, many new and exciting opportunities exist for students, faculty members, and graduates.
The field of public health strives to create healthier communities. Where medicine treats the individual, public health looks to the larger community. Those working in public health focus on efforts to assess the health of people and their environments and develop policies and programs to protect people and help them lead healthier lives.
To achieve these goals, public health crosses many of the traditional academic disciplinary boundaries, drawing from medicine, law, public policy, economics, and biology to name a few. Making water safe to drink and air safe to breathe, controlling toxic waste, halting the spread of infectious disease, promoting the advantages of healthy lifestyles, and minimizing violence in our communities are all examples of public health in action. Increasingly public health is called on to help determine which clinical approaches to an individual health problem are best (outcomes research), and to assess and identify disparities in access to healthcare, quality of healthcare, and health status.
The UCLA Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health is among the top public health schools in the country and offers superior public health training and real-world experience. The school’s classrooms and laboratories are under the same roof as the UCLA medical, dental, and nursing schools and just steps away from its science facilities and schools of engineering, law, management, and public affairs.
The school is enriched by its location in Los Angeles, where a melting pot of cultures, industries, environmental situations, and urban issues provides unparalleled opportunities for research, teaching, and service. Its location also provides students and faculty members with a unique opportunity to be involved with cutting-edge healthcare issues, as many of the health system changes have origins in Southern California.
Students can look forward to working with acclaimed public health experts and innovators. Among its 200 faculty members are 15 members of the prestigious Institute of Medicine, three past presidents of the American Public Health Association, and two past and current presidents of the International Epidemiological Association.
The school’s 700 students are among the most talented and promising in the nation and are a culturally diverse group--one of the most diverse of all schools of public health--representing more than 35 countries and nearly every region of the U.S. Graduates continue to make an impressive impact on the field and can be found at the forefront of all major public health efforts.
The school offers graduate programs leading to both academic and professional degrees in five departments. The Department of Biostatistics develops statistical and analytical techniques for public health use. The Department of Community Health Sciences addresses behaviors that prevent disease and enhance health, health problems of high-risk groups (women, children, the aged, the poor, the disadvantaged, and racial and ethnic minorities), health education and promotion, public health policy, community nutrition, and international health. The Department of Environmental Health Sciences elucidates health hazards in the general environment and in the workplace. The Department of Epidemiology is concerned with the nature, extent, and distribution of disease and health in populations. The Department of Health Policy and Management deals with the organization, financing, delivery, quality, and distribution of healthcare services. The school also administers interdepartmental degree programs in environmental science and engineering and in molecular toxicology.
Admission criteria established by the UCLA Graduate Division require a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution comparable in standard and content to a bachelor’s degree from the University of California. A scholastic average of B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) or better is required--or its equivalent if the letter grade system is not used--for the last 60 semester units or last 90 quarter units of undergraduate study and in any postbaccalaureate study. Further requirements for international students are explained in the Graduate Study section. See http://grad.ucla.edu/gasaa/admissions/admisinfo.html.
Applicants must also submit the application to the centralized Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS) at http://www.sophas.org. For additional admission requirements, see http://ph.ucla.edu/content/student-affairs/prospective-students/application-checklist/.
Specific degree requirements vary according to the department and program. Refer to Program Requirements for UCLA Graduate Degrees at http://grad.ucla.edu/gasaa/library/pgmrqintro.htm.
The field of public health addresses a wide range of issues, making it a natural for interdisciplinary collaboration. UCLA faculty members and students reach beyond traditional academic boundaries to promote cooperative exchange across disciplines. The following is a list of interdisciplinary centers sponsored by or associated with the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
The Center for Cancer Prevention and Control Research (http://ph.ucla.edu/content/center-cancer-prevention-and-control-research) is a joint program of the Fielding School of Public Health and the Geffen School of Medicine’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. Since its inception in 1976, the center has been recognized throughout the Los Angeles community, nationally, and internationally. It conducts rigorous peer-reviewed research in two major program areas--the Healthy and At-Risk Populations Program (http://www.cancer.ucla.edu/Index.aspx?page=1194) and the Patients and Survivors Program (http://www.cancer.ucla.edu/Index.aspx?page=1195).
The Healthy and At-Risk Populations Program focuses on research in primary prevention and screening/early detection among healthy populations and persons at increased risk for developing cancer. The program’s research portfolio includes cancer epidemiology, gene-environment interaction, tobacco control, nutrition and exercise, and breast, cervix, prostate, and colon cancer screenings, as well as risk counseling and genetic testing of high-risk populations. The Patients and Survivors Program has as its major goal the reduction in avoidable morbidity and mortality among adult and pediatric patients with cancer and long-term survivors of cancer.
The Center for Environmental Genomics was established in May 2003 in partnership with the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. The goal of the center is to bring together experts from a variety of fields, including cancer, environmental health, epidemiology, biostatistics, human genetics, pathology, and pharmacology, to investigate the molecular mechanisms by which environmental agents such as air pollutants and radiation interact with genetic predisposing factors to cause disease. A better understanding of these processes paves the way not only for targeted drug therapies, but also for targeted public health efforts to reduce environmental exposures in high-risk populations. Environmental genomics helps prevent diseases rather than waiting to cure them once they have occurred.
The UCLA Center for Global and Immigrant Health was established in 2008 and includes faculty members from all the departments in the School of Public Health, as well as the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, and Nursing and the California Center for Population Research, all of whom have research or teaching interests in global and/or immigrant health. Participating faculty members have active research collaborations in more than 50 countries throughout the world, and several work both with immigrant communities in California and in the countries of origin of these communities. The center offers a regular seminar series and a Certificate in Global Health available to students in any of UCLA's degree-granting graduate and professional programs. See http://ph.ucla.edu/content/academics/degrees/global-health/ucla-center-global-and-immigrant-health.
The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research was established in 1994 to apply the expertise of UCLA faculty members and researchers to meet national, state, and local community needs for health policy-related research and information and to accomplish three missions: (1) to conduct research on national, state, and local health policy issues, (2) to provide public service to policymakers and community leaders, and (3) to offer educational opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
Sponsored by the Fielding School of Public Health and the Luskin School of Public Affairs, the center provides a collaborative health policy research environment for the leading professional schools and academic departments of UCLA. One major project is the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), one of the largest health surveys in the nation. The center also sponsors major public service programs supported by extramural grants. See http://www.healthpolicy.ucla.edu.
The Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities (CHCFC) was established at UCLA in 1995 to address some of the most challenging health and social problems facing children and families. The center’s mission is to improve society’s ability to provide children with the best opportunities for health, well-being, and the chance to assume productive roles within families and communities.
Through a unique interdisciplinary partnership between UCLA departments, schools, and affiliated institutions, including the Schools of Public Health, Medicine, Nursing, Education, Law, and Public Affairs and the Department of Psychology, as well as providers, community agencies, and affiliated institutions, a critical mass of expertise has been assembled to conduct activities in five major areas: (1) child health and social services, (2) applied research, (3) training of health and social service providers, (4) public policy research and analysis, and (5) technical assistance and support to community providers, agencies, and policymakers. See http://www.healthychild.ucla.edu.
Established in 1996, the Center for Human Nutrition is a joint endeavor of the Fielding School of Public Health and the Geffen School of Medicine. Participating faculty members have their academic appointments in either or both schools. The center brings together faculty members, postdoctoral research fellows, graduate students, and medical students to focus on the roles of nutrition and food in human health and disease and is closely affiliated with the UCLA Clinical Nutrition Research Unit, that focuses on nutrition and cancer prevention.
Programs include basic biological research; nutrition education for various constituencies, including medical, graduate, undergraduate, and postgraduate students; participation in multicenter clinical trials for primary and secondary disease prevention through dietary intervention; and public health and international nutrition. The public health and international aspects of the programs include focus on nutrition surveillance of populations, nutritional status and food supply in developing and transitional countries, and nutrition and food policy. See http://cellinteractive.com/ucla/.
The Center for Metabolic Disease Prevention brings the best science to bear on the challenge of controlling the global epidemic of metabolic diseases and provides leadership in metabolic disease prevention through interdisciplinary research, improving patient care, and creating educational initiatives for students, health professionals, and the public. This pioneering center is one of the first in the nation to integrate laboratory-based and population-based sciences in studying mechanisms and strategies for metabolic diseases prevention. In doing so, the center unifies the many strengths and expertise of UCLA's departments and schools to investigate all facets of metabolic diseases and provides comprehensive multidisciplinary education and research training opportunities for students ranging from sick molecules to sick populations. For more information about the center’s Burroughs Wellcome Fund Interschool Training Program in Metabolic Diseases and other programs, see http://www.cmdp.ucla.edu and http://nutrigen.ph.ucla.edu.
The California State Legislature mandated that the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) be formed in 1978, when a group of chemical workers became sterile from exposure to the pesticide DBCP, a known carcinogen and reproductive toxin. With branches in the north and south of the state, COEH trains occupational and environmental health professionals and scientists, conducts research, and provides services through consultation, education, and outreach. The centers constitute the first state-supported institutions to develop new occupational and environmental health leadership in the U.S.
The COEH branch at UCLA is housed in the Center for the Health Sciences and involves the Schools of Public Health, Medicine, and Nursing. Specific COEH programs within the Fielding School of Public Health include environmental chemistry, occupational/environmental epidemiology, occupational/environmental medicine, occupational ergonomics, occupational hygiene, toxicology, gene-environment interactions, psychosocial factors in the work environment, occupational health education, and pollution prevention. See http://www.coeh.ucla.edu.
The Center for Public Health and Disasters was established in 1997 to address the critical issues faced when a disaster impacts a community. The center promotes interdisciplinary efforts to reduce the health impacts of domestic, international, natural, and human-induced disasters. It facilitates dialog between public health and medicine, engineering, physical and social sciences, and emergency management. This unique philosophy is applied to the education and training of practitioners and researchers, collaborative interdisciplinary research, and service to the community. The multidisciplinary center staff and participating faculty members have backgrounds that include emergency medicine, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, gerontology, health services, social work, sociology, urban planning, and public health.
The center is one of 15 Academic Centers for Public Health Preparedness funded by the Centers for Disease Control. The goal of these national centers is to improve competencies of front-line workers in public health to respond to public health threats. See http://www.cphd.ucla.edu.
The Southern California NIOSH Education and Research Center (ERC) is one of 17 multidisciplinary centers in the U.S. supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for education and research in the field of occupational health. The center is administratively housed in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and supports academic programs in occupational medicine at UCLA and UCI, occupational health nursing, and industrial hygiene at UCLA.
For these programs the center provides student support (fees and stipends for U.S. citizens or permanent residents) and infrastructure support. The center supports approximately 40 graduate students in the field of occupational health. It also supports a continuing education and outreach program, hazardous substances training for hazardous waste workers and industrial hygiene students, and a Pilot Project Research Training Program for ERC trainees. The continuing education program is primarily for professionals in the occupational health field and covers many topics in industrial hygiene, occupational health nursing, occupational medicine, occupational safety, ergonomics, and environmental areas. See http://www.ph.ucla.edu/erc/.
The Southern California Particle Center and Supersite (SCPCS) was established in 1999 through funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (ARB) to study the nature and health effects of airborne particulate matter (PM). The SCPCS is one of five particulate research centers awarded grants as part of an EPA effort to learn more about the health problems caused by exposure to particle pollution. Based in the Fielding School of Public Health and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, the center includes faculty members from throughout UCLA, as well as researchers from the University of Southern California, University of California campuses at Riverside and Irvine, California Institute of Technology, and Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center.
The major objective of the SCPCS is to identify and conduct the highest priority research for PM to ensure protection of the public health. The center seeks to better determine the sources of particulate pollution, probe the chemical nature of particles, and investigate the health effects of breathing particulates. The SCPCS has created a structure to ensure integration of research and to create a research dynamic where findings facilitate new research that deepens understanding of the mechanisms of particle-related toxicity. See http://www.scpcs.ucla.edu.
Academic studies and current events have converged to highlight the magnitude of potentially preventable health disparities among various population groups, and the urgency of addressing these disparities. The UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity identifies, investigates, and addresses these differences in health status and disease burden. A key feature of the center is its heavy focus on community-based intervention research to mitigate observed disparities.
The center aims to advance understanding of health disparities across the lifespan and to foster multidisciplinary research to improve the health of underserved communities. With focus on Los Angeles County, the center facilitates community and academic partnerships in research, trains new investigators in health disparities research, and assists community partners in implementing effective programs and advocating for effective policies to reduce disparities. The center also endeavors to erode the barriers preventing more effective collaboration with local health departments and other key community partners engaged in the practice of public health. It is a collaborative center without walls that includes associates from academia, government, foundations, and private/nonprofit organizations. See http://healthequity.ucla.edu.
The UCLA/RAND Prevention Research Center conducts studies and develops programs to improve the health and well-being of adolescents, with special emphasis on projects that involve parents of adolescents. The center is a partnership of the Fielding School of Public Health, Department of Pediatrics, RAND (a nonpartisan, private, nonprofit research institute that conducts research to improve public policy), and local communities.
The center’s multidisciplinary faculty and staff members represent the fields of public health, medicine, social and clinical psychology, sociology, economics, political science, anthropology, education, sampling, statistics, and survey design. It is innovative in its approach to community service, partnering with ethnically and economically diverse communities in Los Angeles County to identify opportunities for it to provide technical support to community groups for program implementation and assessment. In addition, the center has partnerships with the Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, and other local groups. See http://www.rand.org/health/centers/adolescent.html and http://www.ph.ucla.edu/prc/.
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