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New Public Health Chairs and Faculty Bring Increased Focus on Research Methods, Health Disparities, and Public Health Practice

SPH Faculty FY2016

September 24, 2015

Six new faculty members bring broad expertise in research methods, intervention research, health disparities, and public health practice to the Drexel School of Public Health.

"Drexel has really put the "public" in "public health" in a very real and active sense of the word, and it is amazing to see the reach that the School has in the community,” said Leslie McClure, professor and chair of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. McClure comes from the University of Alabama Birmingham and brings biostatistics expertise on both clinical trial design and the analysis of observational studies. "The emphasis on practice in the community and with the community really separates Drexel's School of Public Health from others."

McClure is one of three new departmental chairs coming on board this fall. She is joined by Alex Ortega in Health Management and Policy and by Jerry Fagliano in Environmental and Occupational Health. 

Ortega, who will arrive from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health in November, says that it is important for students to see the applicability of the theories and methods they are learning in class. "I typically use multi-media strategies in the classroom, such as live web video presentations by experts or the showing of videos showcasing public health in action, so students can see the application of what they are learning.” 

Ortega is an internationally recognized expert on the application of epidemiological methods in health services research, and his work focuses on the physical and mental health and medical needs of Latino children and their families both in the United States and in Puerto Rico. He has also published health research on the homeless, military veterans, and undocumented immigrants. 

Jerry Fagliano brings 30 years of leadership and experience in public health practice to the department of Environmental and Occupational and Health.  As senior environmental/occupational epidemiologist with the New Jersey Department of Health, he was responsible for surveillance of work-related diseases and injuries, tracking of environmental exposures and related health outcomes, assessment of public health hazards posed by hazardous sites, risk assessments of drinking water contaminants, and investigations of disease clusters.  

Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH, founder and chair of African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network (AACORN), has joined Drexel School of public health as a research professor in Community Health and Prevention. AACORN, a leading voice of scientific evidence for optimizing nutrition and physical activity lifestyles in the US black population, moved to the Drexel University School of Public Health as of September 1, 2015. Previously located at the University of Pennsylvania, the network will now be situated within the Drexel University School of Public Health. 

“We plan to take full advantage of Drexel’s outstanding intellectual resources and infrastructure for public health research and research translation. The School’s focus on human rights and health equity will create much synergy with AACORN’s mission, and we expect to see local and national impact, and potentially globally as well,” said Kumanyika, who is also the current President of the American Public Health Association.

Brent Langellier, formerly at the University of Arizona, joins the School as an Assistant Professor of Health Management and Policy. Brent’s research focuses on Latino heath issues, including the use of novel methodologic approaches derived from systems modeling. Brent adds to our growing expertise in health disparities and urban health issues.

Langellier says he’s looking forward to meeting public health practitioners in Philadelphia and working with other faculty, staff, and students to understand and address health disparities.

Ana Martínez-Donate has moved to Philadelphia from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and joins as an Associate Professor of Community Health and Prevention, bringing with her more than a decade of experience as a public health researcher. Ana will continue her high-impact work on immigrant health. Her most recent study, an R01 from the National Institutes of Health, focuses on HIV risk and access to health care among Mexican immigrants.

"Drexel’s School of Public Health is firmly grounded in the principles of social justice and health as a human right. That foundation is apparent in the history of the school and it is a critical aspect of the school’s mission and vision for the future,” said Martínez-Donate. "The institutional emphasis on reducing health disparities and commitment to working with communities to translate research evidence into actions aimed at narrowing the gap set this school apart from other schools and programs in the nation."