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Health, Behavior and Society


The Department of Health, Behavior and Society was established in the summer of 2005 with a mission dedicated to research and training that advances scientific understanding of the impact of the societal context and behavior on health.

Planning began in May 2003, when the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health announced that it would establish the new department with a $20 million gift from an anonymous donor. A Behavior and Health Planning Committee chaired by Dr. Scott Zeger and an External Advisory Board were formed to guide its development. During the following six months, the Planning Committee explored in depth the issues around behavior and health in a series of six symposia, Behavior at the Crossroads of Public Health. In May 2005, the School announced that David Holtgrave, PhD, a nationally recognized leader in HIV prevention and social science, would chair the new department.

With the establishment of the Department of Health, Behavior and Society, we have an historic opportunity to generate scientific findings and train future public health leaders with the real potential to change behavioral and social aspects of public health for decades to come.
— David Holtgrave, PhD, Professor and Chair

Thanks to our first-rate faculty and students, the Department of Health, Behavior and Society continues to grow in terms of number of courses, number of projects and reputation.

On July 1, 2005, 20 faculty members transferred into the Department. We now have 50 full-time faculty members, as well as 111 part-time, 50 adjunct, and 58 jointly appointed faculty, including leaders in the behavioral and social sciences and public health. The number of graduate students being trained in HBS has grown from the 40 students who initially transferred into the new department to more than 110 students during the 2015-2016 academic year. 

In the eleven years since its founding, Health, Behavior and Society faculty members have established a body of research on par with peer departments nationwide—as of October 2016, they have published a total of more than 1,800 peer-reviewed manuscripts.

The Department has also established an exceptional record of providing scientific input to key decision-makers from the President to Congress to state health departments to local community-based organizations to the private sector.