The Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health (formerly Social and Preventive Medicine) recently celebrated 100 years of contributions to the health of Buffalo, the region, the nation and the world.
EEH was first established in 1919 as the Department of Hygiene and Public Health. Since that time, while the focus of our teaching, research and service has changed with the changing needs of our communities, we have remained committed to understanding how best to prevent disease, deliver care, and teach researchers and practitioners in public health. We are very proud of the many major public health leaders who have been part of our department. This 100th celebration is an opportunity to understand and commemorate our history, and to look to the future, in a time of rapidly changing public health challenges.
2019 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of SPHHP’s Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health and 100 years of evidence-informed education, groundbreaking research, prominent researchers and community engagement. Take a tour of this timeline to discover the milestones in the department’s evolution and growth.
1845: Dr. Austin Flint, UB School of Medicine founding faculty member, publishes his examination of a local fever outbreak. “Father of field epidemiology” John Snow references the work.
1918: An influenza outbreak begins in Buffalo, contributing to 2000+ deaths in the city, 50,000,000 worldwide.
1918: UB medical students aid local hospitals and temporary medical facilities during the flu pandemic’s height.
1919: UB founds the Department of Hygiene and Public Health, one of first universities in the U.S. with an academic department for training public health officers and studying disease epidemics.
1930s: Department of Hygiene and Public Health researchers publish a disease survey on milk consumption in Buffalo.
1956: The Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health moves to the former U.S. Marine Hospital, 2211 Main St., Buffalo.
1960s: The Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health researchers complete the Buffalo Health Study, one of the field’s first community-based studies of a random population sample.
1963: A landmark Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health air pollution study guides regulators developing standards for the federal Clean Air Act.
1980s: The Department of Social and Preventive Medicine researchers impact chronic-disease epidemiology with examinations of cancer, cardiovascular disease and reproductive epidemiology fields.
1993: UB is the vanguard site for the Women’s Health Initiative, a clinical trial and observational study of the major causes of illness and death for postmenopausal women.
2003: The School of Public Health and Health Professions is developed at UB, with the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine joining the new school.
2010s: The Department of Social and Preventive Medicine increases its focus and resources on improving the health of communities. Researchers investigate the effects of the microbiome on chronic disease; air pollution and reproduction; transgenerational effects of arsenic exposure; and the effects of nutrition on growth in low-/middle-income countries.
2010: The Division of Environmental Health Sciences launches, offering resources for environmental health education, research and service opportunities at UB.
2014: The Department of Social and Preventive Medicine changes name to Epidemiology and Environmental Health to reflect ongoing focus on preventing disease, delivering care, teaching about public health. The Division of Health Services Policy and Practice, which combines innovative research and training, gets its first permanent director, Katia Noyes, PhD.
2019: Group portrait photo of Epidemiology and Environmental Health faculty and staff at Farber Hall. Degree programs include 3 MPH, MS and PhD; 85 students; 64 full-time and associated faculty; 100% placement of department graduates.
Epi Monitor Interview - Check out this Epimonitor interview to get a firsthand look at the “Department’s story” as told by Dr. Jo Freudenheim.
Health Now Article – Understand the importance of research and impact in the history of UB EEH.
“The Firsts” - as cataloged by Dr. John Vena
We want to expand the information we have about the history of the department. Please share stories of your time at UB, tell us how your time here impacted your career and your life. Also, please share photos from your time here.
William Haenszel, a graduate of the University of Buffalo (B.A. in sociology and mathematics 1931, M.A. in statistics 1932), worked in epidemiology at Roswell Park. A co-author of the Mantel-Haenszel test. At the National Cancer Institute, organized the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program, the national system for cancer surveillance.
Milton Terris, faculty of the Department, then Preventive Medicine and Public Health, 1951-57. Subsequently Professor at Tulane University, then Head of the Chronic Disease Unit of the NYC Public Health Research Institute and Chair of Preventive Medicine at New York Medical College. Served as President of the APHA and founded the Journal of Public Health Policy.
Abraham Lilienfeld, UB faculty, 1954-58. Founding chair of the Department of Statistics and Biological Research at Roswell Park. Was a leader in working to include chronic disease research as part of the purview of epidemiology. Served as Chair of the Department of Chronic Diseases and of the Department of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins.
Edward Marra, first full-time chair of the Department, then Preventive Medicine and Public Health, changing to Social and Preventive Medicine, 1960-1976; established the masters degree program in epidemiology. Photo courtesy, University Archives.
Michel Ibrahim, faculty member in the Department, then Social and Preventive Medicine, 1964-71. Went on to become the Dean of the School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Editor-in-Chief of Epidemiologic Reviews, now Professor Emeritus, Johns Hopkins University. Was a founding Director of the American College of Epidemiology.
David Sackett, part of the Chronic Disease Research Institute at UB, 1963-67. Went on to found the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University. Was instrumental in making evidence-based medicine a critical part of medical practice.
Craig Turnbull, part of the Department, then Social and Preventive Medicine, 1965-68; collaborated with Winkelstein. Went on to become professor of biostatistics, UNC Chapel Hill.
Warren Winkelstein, a leading epidemiologist, worked in Buffalo 1950-68 at the Erie County Department of Health and then at UB, collaborating Abe Lilienfeld at the UB School of Medicine, Chronic Disease Research Institute. He and colleagues conducted a landmark population-based cross-sectional study in Buffalo of factors associated with blood pressure.
Robert Wallace, one of the first two graduates of the UB masters degree in epidemiology program, 1972. Served in Buffalo as an Epidemiology Intelligence Service officer with the Erie County Health Department. Currently Professor, Irene Ensminger Stecher Professorship in Cancer Research, University of Iowa.
Harry Sultz, Acting Chair of the Department, then Social and Preventive Medicine, 1976 -1979, then Dean of the UB School of Health Related Professions. Author, with Kristina Young, of a leading textbook regarding health care organization in the US. Photo courtesy, University Archives.
Clarence Cooper, David Sackett, Warren Winkelstein, Craig Turnbull, Robert Partridge, Michel Ibrahim, Sy Kantor, Irene Andruczyk. Robert Partridge served as an EIS officer in Erie County and at UB.
Saxon Graham, Chair of the Department, then Social and Preventive Medicine, from 1981-1991, was among the preeminent cancer epidemiologists of his time, known for groundbreaking studies examining diet and cancer beginning in the 1950s. A founding Director of the American College of Epidemiology and a President of the Society for Epidemiologic Research.
Tim Beyers, professor in the Department, then Social and Preventive Medicine, 1981 to 1987. Was an integral part of a leading research group examining the role of diet in cancer etiology and prevention and doing methodological work on diet assessment.
John Vena received his PhD from UB, Professor in the Department, then Social and Preventive Medicine, 1981-2003. Expert in environmental and occupational epidemiology. Now Professor and founding Chair, Department of Public Health Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina. Photo courtesy University Archives.
Maurizio Trevisan, SUNY Distinguished Professor, former Chair of the Department, then Social and Preventive Medicine, 1991-2014. Founding Dean, School of Public Health and Health Professions, UB, 2014-2007. Currently Dean, CUNY School of Medicine. Distinguished record of research on cardiovascular disease epidemiology, co-pi for the UB site of the Women’s Health Initiative.
Maurizio Trevisan; Jean Wactawski-Wende, SUNY Distinguished Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, 1999-present, Dean, UB School of Public Health and Health Professions, 2014-present. Co-PI for the UB Women’s Health Initiative, expert in women’s health, epidemiology of osteoporosis, periodontal disease, systemic disease epidemiology.
Jo Freudenheim, UB Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, 2003-13, 2014-present. Expert in epidemiology of breast cancer, DNA methylation and lung effects of electronic cigarette use. Photo courtesy University Archives.
Vittorio Krogh, Research associate in the Department, then Social and Preventive Medicine, 1985-91. Currently Director of Epidemiology and Prevention at the Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy.
James Marshall, John Vena, Maria Zielezny, Robert O’Shea, Tim Byers, Saxon Graham. Maria Zielezny, Associate Professor in the Department, then Social and Preventive Medicine contributing critical statistical expertise to research with Graham, Marshall, Byers and Vena, among others.
Robert O’Shea, Dennis Bertram, Brian Pech, Michael Noe, Terry Pechacek, Charles Pruitt, Jo Freudenheim, Maurizio Trevisan, Maria Zieleznyf. Faculty at the time of the formation of the preventive medicine residency and Dr. Pech, the first resident in the program (approx. 1990).
Dennis Bertram, Jo Freudenheim, John Vena, Maria Zielezny, Robert O’Shea, James Marshall, Maurizio Trevisan, Saxon Graham.
Henry Lin, MD ’15, PhD ’15, MS ’16, Ophthalmology Medical Resident, Department of Ophthalmology, University at Buffalo
Dierdre Wheat, MD, MMedSci, PCME, MPH ’10, Clinical Assistant Professor, Epidemiology and Environmental Health,Associate Medical Director for Quality, Disease and Case Management, Independent Health, Buffalo
Lamya Hamad, MPH ’13, Clinical Oncology Pharmacist, Department of Pharmacy, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
Caila Vaughn, MPH ’12, PhD ’16, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, University at Buffalo
Brian King, BS ’04, MPH ’06, PhD ’10, Deputy Director for Research Translation, Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Joel Merriman, MPH ’12, Lieutenant, US Public Health Service, Regulatory Officer, US Food and Drug Administration
Kelly Kamm, PhD ’14, Research Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI
Amanda Ziegler, MPH ’13, Research Coordinator, Nutrition and Health Research Lab, University at Buffalo
As we celebrate the past, we are looking to the future. We continue to have wonderful, thoughtful, innovative and energetic students. Your support will help us to recruit, train and launch the best, most diverse students so that they become the new generation of leaders, laying the groundwork in public health for the next 100 years. Please consider paying it forward to help current and future students succeed.
The EEH 100th Anniversary Fund is for student support including tuition assistance, stipends, conference expenses and research funds.
The Julie Baker fund is for tuition assistance for masters students.
The Saxon Graham fund is for epidemiology doctoral students' research funds.