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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Columbia Undergraduate Public Health Initiatives

The Mailman School of Public Health has many ongoing initiatives for undergraduate students interested in public health. A variety of classes and programs are offered, with students enrolling from a range of majors and years. Courses cover the fundamentals of global health, the social history of American public health, and a course providing a broad introduction to public health focused on social determinants.

Undergraduate students can also spend the summer immersed in public health. The Columbia Summer Public Health Scholars Program, implemented in 2011 with a five-year, $3.7 million federal grant, is a partnership among the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, College of Dental Medicine, and School of Nursing. The goal of the program is to increase the knowledge and interest of undergraduates in public health and biomedical science as well as build a diverse public health workforce prepared to reduce health disparities. The program engages 50 students each year from four-year colleges, community colleges, and post-baccalaureate programs and provides them with meaningful and valuable experience in public health. The intensive 10-week course of study, co-led by Dr. Robert Fullilove, professor of sociomedical sciences and associate dean for community and minority affairs, includes working with public health professional mentors, weekly courses in epidemiology, public health and health disparities and cultural competence.

The Biostatistics and Epidemiology Summer Training Diversity Program (BEST) was established to expand and diversify the behavioral and biomedical sciences’ workforce by introducing undergraduates from underrepresented populations to biostatistics and cardiovascular and pulmonary disease research. Students representing racial and ethnic minority groups, disadvantaged backgrounds, and students with disabilities join the Mailman School to learn about the quantitative sciences in biomedical research. Students work in teams with faculty mentors for eight weeks of research, training, academic and career planning. Other components of the program include: coursework in study design, statistical analysis, and statistical computing, a seminar series by Mailman School faculty and administrators, training in research conduct and ethics, and essential skills for graduate school success. This eight-week intensive program is funded by a grant from the NIH, and Dr. Melissa Begg, professor of biostatistics and vice provost for academic programs at Columbia University, and Dr. Roger Vaughan, professor of biostatistics and vice dean for academic advancement, are co- leaders. It is run by Ms. Justine Herrera, director of academic planning in the department of biostatistics, and co-operated with the CSIBS program below.

The Columbia Summer Institute for Training in Biostatistics (CSIBS) is a rigorous eight-week program that introduces undergraduate students to biostatistics and their applications in public health and biomedical research which runs in parallel to the BEST program. Participants receive academic credit through completion of coursework in Introductory Biostatistics and Statistical Computing using SAS. In addition, participants undertake a research project with a faculty mentor, and work in teams with BEST students to learn interdisciplinary skills as well as academic skills. This program is funded by a grant from NIH, and Dr. Roger Vaughan, professor of biostatistics and vice dean for academic advancement, is the PI of this grant.

The Program to Inspire Minority Undergraduates in Environmental Health Science Research (PrIMER) is an opportunity for minority undergraduate students with prior coursework in science and math to explore a career in science while gaining hands-on experience conducting research with faculty, doctoral students, and postdoctoral fellows in an environmental health sciences laboratory. In addition to receiving academic credit for the 10-week course of study, participants are paid an hourly rate for their work in the laboratory. Students are paired with a Columbia University faculty mentor who also serves as a resource for students as they embark upon the graduate school application process. The two-year program begins in the summer before junior year.  This program is coordinated by Dr. Greg Freyer, professor of EHS.

ICAP’s Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) Fellowship is an opportunity for students from underrepresented communities to participate in a fully-funded summer program working on mentored global health research projects abroad. Funded by a T37 grant from NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the program aims to support the development of a diverse public health research workforce by recruiting, training, and mentoring students. During 11-week program, fellows work hand-in-hand with research mentors at their study sites and in New York. They also receive training via a distance learning curriculum, developed by ICAP, in key global health issues. Now in its third year, the fellowship is part of ICAP’s Next Generation training initiative that provides students with hands-on learning opportunities around the world. More than 130 MHIRT fellows have had the opportunity to work on global health projects through ICAP support.

The Journal of Global Health ( Columbia University’s undergraduate-run public health publication, founded with the objective of providing a forum for undergraduate student dialogue on contemporary issues in global health. Columbia faculty advisor Dr. Norman Kleiman, associate research scientist of environmental health sciences, plays an integral role in overseeing and guiding the student editors publication. Committed to featuring original student research in public health and spotlighting grassroots public health activism, the publication provides an exchange for student re­searchers and activists from across the globe to examine public health problems and answer provocative and controversial questions.