Even as the then-University of Buffalo’s Medical School battled its city’s calamitous outbreak of the deadly influenza pandemic of 1918 and 1919, its board recognized the growing need for knowledge and practitioners to address ever-present epidemic diseases that threatened public health worldwide. Taking action, UB founded the Department of Hygiene and Public Health in 1919, becoming one of the country’s first universities to devote an academic department to training public health officers and studying epidemic diseases.
Today, the department goes by the name Epidemiology and Environmental Health and is part of University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions. It is celebrating 100 years of evidence-informed education, groundbreaking research, notable researchers and community engagement. The need for education and practitioners in public health is no less urgent today than 100 years ago, according to Dr. Jo Freudenheim, UB Distinguished Professor and department chair.
“This 100th anniversary 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,” Dr. Freudenheim says. “For a relatively small department, a notably large number of the leaders in the field of epidemiology and in public health more generally have conducted research and studied in our program. We also want to honor their contributions.”
To mark the occasion, the department is holding a weekend of special events May 30 through June 1, including a symposium, the Saxon Graham Lecture and a 100th anniversary dinner.