SPH Digest

SPH Digest

In his graduation address to the SPH class of 2011, Reed Tuckson, executive vice-president and chief of medical affairs at UnitedHealth Group, outlined three major challenges the graduates must confront. First, they need to make public health practice more innovative. “We need new data, tools, social marketing engagement. I, for one, am tired of failing with the same old approaches,” Tuckson said. Second, they need to be more effective in engaging communities in the fight for health—whether it’s with tobacco, inactivity, or other issues “you know well.” Third, they must commit to being accountable on the quality, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of practice.

The 299-member SPH class of 2011 included MPH candidate Matthew Bialko (pictured above), who in remarks on behalf of his fellow graduates urged them to “employ integrative approaches to solving problems. Work towards realistic goals and seek to make cumulative improvements in public health around the world.” The graduation ceremony took place on April 28 in Hill Auditorium. Honorees included three SPH faculty members: Paula Lantz, then–professor and chair of the Department of Health Management and Policy, who received the Excellence in Teaching Award; Jack Kalbfleisch, professor of biostatistics and director of the Kidney Epidemiology and Cost Center, who received the Excellence in Research Award; and Toby Citrin, adjunct professor of health management and policy and director of the Center for Public Health and Community Genomics, recipient of the Gene Feingold Diversity Award.

Wearing a helmet embellished with Motown memorabilia, SPH staffer Hilda McDonald joined 33 other Michiganders in biking the better part of 100 miles in the mountains around Lake Tahoe last June to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Despite 43-degree temperatures and rain-slicked roads, McDonald and her fellow Team in Training riders brought in over $141,000—part of an overall $6.8 million garnered nationwide that day. It’s the third time McDonald has helped the society raise funds to support blood-cancer research and patient aid.

Thomas G. Robins, professor of environmental health sciences and an expert on environmentally and occupationally related respiratory diseases, is the school’s new director of Global Public Health. Robins has led a number of large-scale field epidemiology studies both in Africa and domestically, and for the past 20 years has worked extensively to strengthen human capacity in health in sub-Saharan Africa. For more on the school’s global health programs and initiatives visit www.sph.umich.edu/global/.

In March, SPH alumnus Larry Brilliant, MD, MPH ’77, delivered the 10th annual Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability in UM’s Rackham Auditorium. SPH co-sponsored the lecture, presented by the university’s Center for Sustainable Systems. Brilliant, the president and CEO of the Skoll Global Threats Fund, spoke about such global threats as climate change, epidemics, water scarcity, and nuclear proliferation, and suggested a “silent” but powerful movement centered on environmentalism, global health, and stewardship of the natural world is underway.

25 Years of Findings

  • 1987: The death of SPH Professor Sy Axelrod on September 21, 1987, marks “the end of an era at Michigan and nationally,” observes HMP professor Sylvester Berki. “[Sy] was one of about a dozen people who in the 1940s and 1950s had a vision of how health care would be in a decent society. Others were just mechanics in comparison.”
  • 1990: As AIDS spreads across the United States, a team of SPH researchers helps the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, prepare a community response to the disease.
  • 1993: In a panel discussion on the national health care cost containment crisis, SPH Professor John Griffith suggests “the fundamental reason that health care costs are rising is that the American people have an enormous, insatiable demand for health care.”
  • 1995: Outgoing APHA President (and SPH faculty member) Eugene Feingold welcomes incoming APHA President (and SPH alumnus) Caswell Evans. Findings proudly calls SPH the “home of APHA presidents.”
  • 1997: Students in the SPH On Job/On Campus program ask the school to install more public phones.
  • 1999: “When I’m sitting down, I feel 60. When I’m walking around, I feel 80. In my mind.… I’m still 21.” Reflections from SPH Dean Emeritus Myron Wegman on the occasion of his 90th birthday.
  • 2000: As part of a major redesign, Findings inches its way toward full-color and celebrates the millennium with a look back at the century’s top-ten public health achievements.
  • 2001: “Cool” and “daunting” are two words SPH researchers use to describe the volume of information generated by the Human Genome Project.
  • 2003: As the number of overweight Americans climbs, obesity claims its first Findings cover.
  • 2005: Findings the magazine goes fully online, and a cover story about depression and public health sparks widespread interest. To date, the article remains the most visited of all Findings articles.
  • 2006: For the first time in its history, Findings covers a story in situ, with blogs. In this case it’s an SPH trip to the Gulf Coast five months after Hurricane Katrina—an experience that leads one student to remark, “My heart feels burdened by what I saw.”
  • 2009: A revised format, 100-percent recycled paper, and a raft of online features help usher Findings into a new era. This CASE award–winning issue prompts one reader to gush, “I normally skim these magazines, but this one pulled me in, right away, page after page.”
  • 2010: “One does not get used to the suffering,” says Congolese physician and human rights activist Denis Mukwege, in a story on the human rights crisis in the Congo. Online extras include a video interview with Mukwege.