Irvine, Calif., March 19, 2019 — Bernadette Boden-Albala, Dr.P.H. – a renowned researcher and administrator whose efforts to reduce health disparities for America’s disadvantaged became a blueprint for community-based stroke and heart disease prevention – has been named director and founding dean of the University of California, Irvine’s planned School of Population Health, effective July 1.
Boden-Albala currently serves as senior associate dean of research and program development at New York University’s College of Global Public Health. At UCI, she will oversee and guide the development of the proposed school, building on the current Program in Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, and Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. When approved, it will join the School of Medicine, the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing, and the planned School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences as the academic pillars of the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences, formed in 2017 with a cornerstone gift of $200 million, the largest in UCI’s history.
“Dr. Boden-Albala’s history of stellar academic, research and leadership achievement makes her the perfect choice to lead the successful launch of a full-fledged school,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “We are thrilled that she is joining UCI and look forward to her driving innovation in the growing field of population health.”
Enrique Lavernia, UCI provost and executive vice chancellor, added: “Dr. Boden-Albala’s leadership of faculty, students and staff will be essential in realizing UCI’s vision of bringing the planned School of Population Health to national prominence as a place where pioneering research and innovative education aim to improve both personal and community health, especially among underserved populations.”
A leader in social epidemiology
An internationally recognized expert in the social epidemiology of stroke and cardiovascular disease, Boden-Albala specializes in the design of strategies for prevention and preparedness, and she has produced a wealth of knowledge on stroke avoidance. In a recent clinical study, Boden-Albala worked with New York City’s Dominican community to demonstrate that a culturally tailored, skills-based approach helped stroke patients significantly lower their blood pressure one year later – which should translate into a nearly 40 percent reduction in the risk of having another stroke.
She has co-created courses with UNICEF and the United Nations World Food Programme focused on innovative responses to Ebola and polio and new systems to ensure equitable access to healthy foods. In addition, Boden-Albala helped develop the Cross-Continental M.P.H., a one-year program that combines classroom learning, collaborative research with faculty mentors, and public health practice experience across three continents. A professor of public health, neurology and dentistry at NYU, she also served as interim chair of the Department of Epidemiology.
Advancing population health
The field of population health is concerned with increasing the overall well-being of an entire demographic while reducing health inequities. Rooted in public health, it combines the best practices of that discipline with cutting-edge health systems research, big data analytics and implementation science.
To successfully establish the School of Population Health at UCI, Boden-Albala’s dedication to inclusion and collaboration between research and practice will be crucial in forging partnerships that support integrative health and interdisciplinary research and educational opportunities.
“The vision of the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences is a healthcare future that promotes wellness across the lifespan through prevention; personalized diagnosis and treatment; and integrative, patient-centered care,” said Dr. Steven Goldstein, UCI vice chancellor of health affairs. “Population health will be a key pillar of the college, and Dr. Boden-Albala is the right person to lead this audacious effort. UCI is creating one of the few schools of its kind in the nation to harness the power of genomics, big data and technology to improve the health of entire populations.”
The proposal for the school is expected to reach the UC Board of Regents for final review and approval within two years.
“I’m thrilled to be joining an exceptional team at UCI,” Boden-Albala said. “The Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences will create a national model for an integrative approach to healthcare training, research and practice. It’s an honor to be starting something new and exciting and getting faculty and students involved with that excitement.”
A lifelong New Yorker, Boden-Albala earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology at Queens College and master’s and doctoral degrees in public health at Columbia University.
About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.
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