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January 8, 2003

Public Health Awareness Increased After September 11 Attacks

Alfred Sommer, MD, MHS, Dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was quoted in a January 7, 2003, article in The Boston Globe on the topic of public health and the public’s relative unfamiliarity with the profession. 

Dr. Sommer told the paper, “Public health has suffered years and years of neglect. When the polio vaccine first came along, people were glued to tiny television sets. And people said, ‘Ah, that’s what public health is all about.’ The big problem is that when public health is successful, nothing happens, because we’ve prevented it from happening.”

The Globe article noted skyrocketing interest in schools of public health and the public health field from doctors, nurses, lawyers, and other prospective students.

Dr. Sommer concluded the article, “I don’t have to tell university trustees or explain to donors what public health is [anymore]. After Sept. 11, I would come out of a trustee dinner and people would just grab my arm and say, ‘Al, we’re looking to you to protect us from this menace.’”

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kenna Brigham or Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or 

Photographs of Alfred Sommer are available upon request.