WVU Board of Governors approves new department

In response to the pressing need to invest in public health and strengthen the public health workforce, West Virginia University will establish a unified Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the School of Public Health.

The move, effective March 11, was approved Wednesday (Feb. 10) by the WVU Board of Governors.

"This realignment capitalizes on our strategic partnerships across both disciplines at a time where data-driven decision making, prevention research and disease surveillance have never been more critical,” said Jeffrey Coben, MD, dean of the School of Public Health and associate vice president for Health Affairs. “We believe this move will enable our School to more fully achieve its mission by creating opportunities for enhanced collaboration in research, teaching and community outreach.”

Since the formation of the School of Public Health in 2012, the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics have operated as separate academic units. The new Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics will bring together faculty from both disciplines into a single academic home for a cross-disciplinary approach, highlighting two areas that will prepare graduates with competitive and marketable skills. Among the expected outcomes of the department merger:

  • Increased interdisciplinary collaboration around priority health issues facing the state of West Virginia;
  • Enhanced student advising, especially more directly linking Biostatistics faculty with Epidemiology PhD students, including but not limited to dissertations and funded projects;
  • Creation of novel and highly attractive joint degree programs; and the
  • Development of summer statistical and analytic training institute offerings that would engage local, state and regional public health and healthcare workforce in needed/desired continuing education.
Portrait photos of Dean Jeffrey Coben and Acting Department Chair Erik Carlton
Jeffrey Coben, MD, (left) and Erik Carlton, DrPH

The Department will continue to provide a PhD in Epidemiology, Master of Public Health in both epidemiology and biostatistics, a Master of Science in Biostatistics, and a Graduate Certificate in Applied Biostatistics.

Erik Carlton, DrPH, associate dean for professional programs, has been appointed as acting chair of the new department while the School conducts a national search for a permanent chair.

“Rarely do we have such an opportunity to align the strengths of exceptional faculty from multiple disciplines,” Carlton said. “This change will allow us to operate with greater agility, innovation and community responsiveness. What a wonderful day for the School and University as we become even better positioned to serve the people in our great state.”

Pictured at top: West Virginia University Health Sciences Center (WVU Photo)



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WVU School of Public Health