Dr. Deanna M. Hoelscher, has been named regional dean of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Austin, beginning Sept. 1. She will succeed Dr. Cheryl L. Perry, who has been serving as regional dean since the school’s Austin campus was established in 2007.
“Dr. Perry has built the Austin campus to be a pearl of population health research and education for Texas,” says Dr. Eric Boerwinkle, dean of UTHealth School of Public Health, which has six campuses in major cities across Texas. “Her intellect, hard work and compassion for the people that she works with is a model for us all. Fortunately, Cheryl is not retiring but rather only stepping down as regional dean so that she can better focus on her own research and mentoring. I look forward to continuing to work with her.”
“This is a great moment for population and public health in Austin and in Texas, and Dr. Hoelscher is the right person to co-lead our efforts at UTHealth. Her work on program implementation to help stem the rising tide of obesity, improve physical activity and prevent diabetes is both practical and impactful. I am honored to have her as a member of the leadership team within the School of Public Health,” says Dr. Boerwinkle.
Dr. Hoelscher has served as director of the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at UTHealth School of Public Health since 2006. She is the John P. McGovern Professor in Health Promotion in the school’s Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences. She is a certified nutrition specialist, licensed dietitian and registered dietitian nutritionist. In 2017, she received Academic Public Health Practice Excellence Award given by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), as well as The University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.
“I am excited to continue the excellent work that Dr. Perry and my colleagues started in Austin,” says Dr. Hoelscher. “Our campus has grown tremendously since its inception, in the number of students and faculty, as well as research projects and community partnerships, which illustrates the need for a strong public health presence and linkage to UT Austin, as well as the training of a public health workforce for Central Texas. I would like to thank Dean Boerwinkle for this opportunity and Dr. Perry for her guidance and support during this transition period. ”
Dr. Hoelscher earned a PhD in biological sciences and an MA in nutrition both from The University of Texas at Austin, and a BS in food science and technology from Texas A&M University. Her chief research and academic interests include design, implementation and evaluation of nutrition and physical activity programs for children, school staff, and underserved populations; dietary and physical activity interventions for prevention of chronic diseases, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer, and more.
Dr. Hoelscher’s work is one example of many at the School of Public Health improving the health of the people of Texas, the nation and the world by providing the highest quality graduation education, translational research and service to the profession and the community. The vision of UTHealth School of Public Health is for the improved health of the population through prevention, better health outcomes and a trained population health workforce.
UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin currently has more than 165 students in the Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Science (MS), Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) and PhD programs, including a growing MD/MPH dual-degree program with The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School. The Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living headquarters is located on the Austin campus and is one of the preeminent research facilities for child and adolescent health — focused on obesity prevention; diet and nutrition; physical activity; tobacco; and alcohol. Projects from the center include the Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH), an evidence-based school obesity prevention program widely used across Texas and the U.S; and another flagship study — the School Physical Activity and Nutrition (SPAN) survey — which documents the rates of obesity and related behaviors in Texas school children.