Public Health

Our students can gain first-hand experience in public health in many ways ranging from student-organized groups like Washington University Medical Plunge (WUMP) and WUSM Global Health and Medicine (formerly known as the Forum on International Health and Tropical Medicine) to formal degree programs that are coordinated through the Washington University Institute for Public Health.

Public health initiatives are not the domain of one department or school; public health is a cross-cutting educational theme. Likewise, public health initiatives at Washington University integrate training and research across departments and divisions.

WUMP (The Washington University Medical Plunge)

A one-week pre-orientation program providing students an overview of public health in St. Louis. A recent participant said, “The most meaningful part of the (WUMP) week is that I felt the responsibility to make a change in the tough public health issues in the St. Louis area … As a future physician, it is our privilege and responsibility to address these issues and work with members of the community to improve their general health … ”

Watch a video about WUMP »

Student-Run Groups

Faculty Public Health Interests

  • David Clifford — The treatment of CNS HIV in Ethiopia
  • John Constantino — Community child mental health
  • Joan Downey — Newborn medicine
  • Mark Manary — Infant nutrition in Malawi: The Peanut Butter Project
  • Katie Plax — Improving health access and delivery to inner-city teens: the SPOT
  • Will Ross — Integrated community care
  • Gary Weil — Filariasis in Egypt and Paragonimus kellicotti in the Midwest
  • David Windus — Health care in Eritrea and Bhutan

Washington University Institute for Public Health

Dating back to at least the early 1940s when medical student Ernst Wynder, working at Washington University with professor of surgery Evarts Graham, discovered the link between smoking and lung cancer, public health has been an abiding and pervasive theme within the School of Medicine. In 2008, this theme took on new form with the creation of the University-wide Institute for Public Health, which represents a coordinated, interdisciplinary institutional commitment to research, teaching and community engagement — all for the purpose of improving public health.

Initiatives include:

  • Environment and health
  • Regional health disparities
  • Health services and policy
  • International diseases and interventions
  • Genetics and population health training
  • Bringing together a range of disciplines and diverse partners to improve population health

The Institute aims to bring about high impact changes in health outcomes by accelerating the translation of research discoveries into practice. The strategy for reaching this goal is to build synergistic collaborations by leveraging relationships between traditional and non-traditional health care partners, building teams that can get novel, proven techniques accepted and into practice quickly. Central to this mission are ongoing research and transdisciplinary education to prepare the next generation of public health leaders to do the job.

Public health degree programs

Visit the Institute for Public Health website to learn more.