20 Public Health Experts Worth Knowing

If you crave a job overseas as a public health practitioner, you have plenty of folks you can use as guiding lights. The following list of 20 public health experts worth knowing all have traveled in their jobs, some to destinations to solve public health issues, both physical and environmental. While some experts are professors, others have created organizations that remain in place today, helping others to live healthier and more fruitful lives.

The following list is organized alphabetically by surname.

  1. Dr. AgwunobiDr. John Agwunobi, the former assistant secretary for health for the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and an admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, joined Wal-Mart in 2007 as senior vice president and president for the professional services Division to oversee the company’s health and wellness business unit, including pharmacies, vision centers and health care clinics.
  2. Robert BlackRobert E. Black, MD, MPH, is chairman, Edgar Berman Professor in International Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He recently received the Prince Mahidol Award in the field of Public Health, which recognizes “outstanding contribution in the field of public health for the sake of the well-being of the peoples.” Black was recognized for his outstanding work on zinc supplementation.
  3. Kenneth BrownKenneth H. Brown, MD, is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis. His research program focuses on the causes, complications, treatment and prevention of childhood malnutrition in low-income countries. Dr. Brown previously directed the UC Davis Program in International Nutrition. He currently chairs the International Zinc Consultative Group.
  4. Rita ColwellDr. Rita R. Colwell won the Stockholm Water Prize for her work, which “has established the basis for environmental and infectious disease risk assessment used around the world,” Colwell focused on preventing the spread of cholera. She is a professor at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  5. Ophelia DahlOphelia Dahl is the co-founder and director of Partners in Health, a global public health organization, and also the daughter of author Roald Dahl, famous for children’s classics such as The BFG and James and the Giant Peach. While studying at Wellesley College, Dahl started a community-based health initiative in rural Hait called Partners in Health. This organization was able to respond effectively in the aftermath of the catastrophe, because it was already established in Haitian communities.
  6. Darin EricksonDarin J. Erickson, PhD, professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, has made it a recent practice to study drunkenness and fatal accidents after large sports events. In one study, he worked with a team that discovered a tight game often led to more riots and car crashes, both at the competition site and in the winning team’s home town.
  7. Rolf HaldenRolf Halden, PhD, PE, is an adjunct associate professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and holds many other positions as well. He has served on the Maryland State Water Quality Advisory Committee, the Food and Drug Administration’s Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee, and a National Research Council committee of the National Academies.
  8. Dr. HarperDr. Carolyn Harper is the executive medical director and director of public health at Ireland’s Public Health Agency. Dr Harper trained in general practice before moving into public health and also worked as Director of Quality Improvement for the Quality Improvement Organization in California. She is a spokesperson for the organization and supports the premise that climate change affects health.
  9. James HughesJames M. Hughes, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases in Emory University School of Medicine and professor of global health in Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, has been elected president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). Hughes is the first IDSA president who comes primarily from the field of public health. He also serves as executive director of the Southeastern Center for Emerging Biologic Threats (SECEBT) and senior advisor, Emory Center for Global Safe Water.
  10. Anthony ItonAnthony B. Iton, MD, JD, MPH, is Senior Vice President of Healthy Communities for the The California Endowment’s 10-year Building Healthy Communities: California Living 2.0 initiative. Prior to this career move, Iton served since 2003 as both the director and County Health Officer for the Alameda County Public Health Department, where he oversaw the creation of an innovative public health practice designed to expand quality of life and lifespan in many of California’s low-income communities.
  11. David KesslerDavid A. Kessler, MD, is a Harvard-trained doctor, lawyer, medical school dean and former commissioner of the FDA. His last career move was as Dean and Vice-Chancellor at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School from 2003 to 2007. Kessler alleged he was fired for whistleblowing, after revealing spreadsheets that did not match from a previous administration. His recent book is The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite.
  12. Joia MukherjeeDr. Joia Mukherjee is a professor at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine. In rural Haiti, Dr. Mukherjee along with colleagues Drs. Paul Farmer and Fernet Leandre has established a program to treat patients with HIV infection using highly active antiretroviral therapy. This program, the HIV Equity Initiative, was the first of its kind in a developing country and served as a model for the Millennium Development Goals, the WHO’s 3 by 5 initiative, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
  13. Thomas McKoneThomas E. McKone, PhD , is an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley’ School of Public Health, Environmental Health Sciences. He is responsible for the development of CalTOX, a model first used by the California Environmental Protection Agency to conduct multimedia risk assessment for hazardous waste and air pollutants. More recently, CalTOX has been used for assessing the behavior of persistent pollutants and for life-cycle impact assessments.
  14. Martin PhilbertMartin Philbert, PhD, became dean of the University of Michigan School of Public Health on January 1, 2011, having previously served as senior associate dean for research at the school since 2004. He arrived at UM in 1995 from Rutgers’ Neurotoxicology Laboratories, where he was a research assistant professor. At the national level, he is recognized for his expertise in neurotoxicology and experimental neuropathology. He is the author of numerous research publications in top peer-reviewed journals, and one book.
  15. Ananda PrasadDr. Ananda S. Prasad is regarded as the foremost researcher on zinc metabolism, and has received several honours, including a mastership from the American College of Physicians–American Society of Internal Medicine. He currently serves as distinguished professor at Wayne State University’s School of Medicine, Center for Molecular Medicine & Genetics.
  16. Mike RichardsProfessor Sir Mike Richards CBE MD FRCP DSc (Hon) is the National Clinical Director for Cancer and End of Life Care. In 2000 he led the development of the NHS Cancer Plan, the first comprehensive strategy to tackle cancer in England and was then responsible for overseeing its implementation. More recently he has led the development of the Cancer Reform Strategy, the first ever End of Life Care Strategy and ‘Improving Outcomes: A strategy for cancer’.
  17. Jonathan SametJonathan M. Samet, MD, MS, is one of the world’s leading public health experts. He recently was named founding director of the new USC Institute for Global Health and chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. On the scientific front, he has studied indoor and outdoor air pollution, the links between radon and lung cancer, and an array of health issues surrounding active and passive smoking.
  18. Jennifer SmithJennifer S. Smith, Ph.D. is an associate professor of epidemiology at UNC and director of Cervical Cancer-Free America (CCFA). CCFA works with leading university and other public health partners in each state to form coalitions that deliver locally on CCFA’s national cervical cancer prevention goals: To increase vaccination, particularly among girls aged 10 to 18, against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer; and to increase cervical cancer screening.
  19. Jeffrey ToneyDr. Jeffrey H. Toney is an educator and a scientist whose career has spanned academia and the pharmaceutical industry. He serves as the dean of the College of Natural, Applied and Health Sciences at Kean University. He has held the Herman and Margaret Sokol professorship in chemistry at Montclair State University and served as department chairperson of chemistry and biochemistry. His current scholarship is focused on drug discovery and bridging science and human rights.
  20. Derek YachDr. Derek Yach is Senior Vice President of Global Health and Agriculture Policy at PepsiCo where he leads the internal Global Human Sustainability Task Force and engagement with major international policy, research and scientific groups. Previously he has headed global health at the Rockefeller Foundation, been Professor of Public Health and head of the Division of Global Health at Yale University. He is also a former executive director of the World Health Organization (WHO).
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