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Five Fantastic Firsts

Innovation: It’s What We Do

Innovation, discovery and excellence are in our DNA. It’s what we do. This year was no different. Here are some of the top “firsts” of the 2015-16 academic year. 

First Fully Online Master’s Degree Explores Geography and Public Health

Student studying

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was out front in online education when we offered the first online master of public health degree way back in 1999. We continued our history of academic innovation this year with the introduction of our first fully online master’s degree program in Spatial Analysis for Public Health.

“Spatial analysis is a fast-growing field in the public health sector and this new degree program is meant to produce highly skilled experts who can help shape the future of public health at local and global levels,” says Dean Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH ’87. “We continue to see new possibilities in how spatial analysis can increase our understanding of disease control and transmission, injury and public safety, assessment of environmental exposures and examination of risky behaviors.”

Training the Next Generation of Public Health Leaders from China and the Pacific Rim


While China and nearby countries in the Pacific Rim continue to prosper, demographic shifts, ever-widening economic disparities and barriers to health care delivery present substantial public health challenges. To address this need, the School launched its first collaborative program in China with Tsinghua University and Capital Healthcare Group, a financial firm based in Beijing. The program will offer a doctor of public health degree and will focus on recruiting professionals with demonstrated leadership in health fields seeking to bolster their training in public health, health care and hospital management.

Elevating the Science and Art of Social-Behavioral Change Communication


One of the most important—and often most overlooked—public health tools is communication. Communication influences behavior, and changing harmful behavior patterns is often key to fighting public health problems.

This year the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, housed within the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health, Behavior and Society, partnered with the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a number of other leading public health organizations to hold the first International Social-Behavioral Change Communication Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from February 8-10, 2016. The conference brought together global health leaders to work on effective strategies to address HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and reproductive and environmental health through enhanced communication strategies. 

Chris Beyrer Named Inaugural Desmond M. Tutu Professor of Public Health and Human Rights

M. Tutu

When Edward and Kathleen Ludwig met Bloomberg School Epidemiology professor Chris Beyrer in Thailand more than a decade ago, it was unlikely that any of them foresaw the meeting’s ultimate outcome: a gift that would honor a Nobel Prize-winning opponent of apartheid and a renowned AIDS researcher and global leader in identifying and mitigating the health consequences of human rights violations.

The meeting was the catalyst that led the Ludwigs to establish an endowed professorship, named in honor of Beyrer’s friend and mentor Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu. On April 8, 2016, in Cape Town, South Africa, with the Archbishop in attendance, Beyrer, MD, MPH ’91, was installed to the inaugural Desmond M. Tutu Professorship in Public Health and Human Rights. The endowed award will secure the future of high-caliber public health research and human rights advocacy at the Bloomberg School for decades to come.


Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research Launched


Mental illness and addiction cost the U.S. nearly $200 billion each year, with far-reaching impacts across society. From crime to lost productivity to homelessness, mental health problems figure prominently in some of society’s most intractable problems.

This year the Bloomberg School launched the Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research to bring a concentrated policy-focused approach to strengthening mental health and addiction services and systems, and to training a new generation of policy researchers in the field.