Archived News


January 10, 2002

UC Davis schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine will offer a new master’s degree program in public health to help address the changing health needs of California communities. The program will capitalize on the strengths of the two schools, which include strong programs in medicine, epidemiology, preventive veterinary medicine, agricultural health, zoonoses and nutrition.

“Recent terrorist events have certainly raised awareness of the need for a strong public-health system,” said Marc Schenker, UC Davis School of Medicine professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, which is administering the program. “It became painfully apparent in the past months that critical shortages in qualified people are limiting the public health system’s ability to track, manage and prevent the spread of diseases and other infectious agents.

“UC Davis is exceptionally well-positioned to offer a curriculum that will bring into service health professionals who can support a range of programs from community health and occupational medicine to health-care management and risk assessment in the domestic and international arena.”

Bennie I. Osburn, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, agrees.  “Veterinarians have always contributed to public health, particularly in food safety research, control of infectious diseases afflicting animals and humans, and prevention of foreign animal diseases such as mad cow disease and West Nile fever,” he said. “The new master’s program will offer veterinarians new tools, and the unique perspective of veterinary faculty will raise the awareness of other health professionals regarding animal-related health and environmental matters.”

The master’s program, which starts with the fall term this August, will initially be aimed at current medical and veterinary students and practicing professionals who want to earn the new degree. The master’s will take a year to complete and will culminate in a capstone field experience, such as working with an agency or organization on program evaluations, case studies, research, policy analyses or descriptive studies.

As the program matures, it will better accommodate working health professionals with evening and weekend sessions. In about five years, UC Davis will launch a two-year degree for others without a medical or veterinary background but interested in pursing a career in public health.

Students will be able to target their studies in several areas, including epidemiology, informatics, nutrition, environmental health, human and zoonotic infectious diseases and veterinary public health.

“On the job, master’s program graduates will help federal, state and county health services and environmental protection agencies respond quickly to regional emergencies and spot statewide trends. The UC Davis degree also will facilitate interdisciplinary study which is important in coordinating effective health programs and regulations,” Osburn said.

Faculty from the School of Medicine bring an established national reputation in epidemiology and public health related to aging, semiconductor manufacturing health, agricultural and migrant-worker health, nutrition, cancer and reproductive health.  Faculty from the School of Veterinary Medicine have offered specialized graduate-level instruction regarding the care and management of herds and flocks of animals in production settings since 1966.

The California Department of Health Services also will be actively involved in the master’s program, teaching courses, lecturing on special topics, mentoring students and providing internship opportunities in areas such as chronic disease and injury control, occupational and environmental health, HIV prevention and rural health.

“I fully expect this new program will contribute in innovative ways to our cutting-edge research and practice in epidemiology and public health, particularly in the health needs of the rural population, environmental health, agricultural health and safety, food safety and nutrition, and zoonotic diseases that tie together health, agricultural and environmental sectors,” Schenker said.

More information about the program is available from program coordinator Jane Emens at (530) 752-3627 or

*The announcement above was distributed by UC Davis Health System Medical News Office January 8, 2001.