The Department Of Public Health Science Working To Promote Health And Reduce The Burden Of Disease


The Department of Public Health Sciences is actively working internationally, nationally and locally to promote health and reduce the burden of disease. Our faculty maintains active research programs focusing on drug and alcohol abuse, HIV, cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other illnesses that threaten the health of our city, our state, our nation, and the world.

Our mission is three-fold: research, education, and service. We develop and apply cutting-edge research and theory, produce highly trained graduates, and disseminate our knowledge to the public, local, state, and federal agencies and governments in South Florida, and beyond.

Around the world, people on average are much heavier today than they were a generation or two ago. In the US, we are seeing the first generation of children and teens who, because of overweight and obesity, may have a shorter life span than their parents. In the 20th Century, Type 2 diabetes was often referred to as adult onset diabetes. With the epidemic of childhood obesity, we now see increased rates of childhood onset of Type 2 (no longer adult onset) diabetes. Our genes have not changed in the last generation or two, but our environment has. Since the middle of the last century, with the increasing popularity of the car, more and more people moved into communities built for cars rather than walking. As we moved away from walkable neighborhoods and into suburbs we became more sedentary, our weight increased, and so did our rates of chronic diseases linked to overweight and obesity such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, orthopedic and joint disease and some types of cancers. However, decreased walking is not the only culprit for the obesity epidemic. Our food consumption has also changed in ways that lead us to consume more calories with limited nutritional value. Stress-producing environmental factors also contribute to increased weight. We have launched a University-wide initiative to create a scientist-community alliance to encourage more research that can help us turn the tide on the obesity epidemic, and provide educational public health experiences that will prepare tomorrow’s leaders to continue to battle this problem

Built Environment:
“Where we live, where we work, where we go and how we get there all impact our behaviors, and ultimately our health and well-being. Our work on the built (physical) environment, behavior, and health studies a range of aspects of the environment created by humans. Our network of faculty pursues research to examine how homes, neighborhoods, cities, and regions impact public health challenges such as obesity, chronic disease, and mental health. Our early work examined impacts of block-level features of the built environment impact health. We examine the role of walkable communities in relation physical and mental health outcomes in new immigrants, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in Our research informs neighborhood and community policies that strongly promote physical activity and positive social interactions.

Environmental Exposure:
“We care about the environment to protect and improve public health, and the health and sustainability of ecosystems. We characterize the environment and quantify harmful personal exposure. We use modern methods of satellite remote sensing, portable samplers, smart phone applications, and optimal interpolation techniques to quantify environmental burdens of disease and disability, and develop effective environmental management strategies.