The Department of Public Health at Yale, the predecessor to the Yale School of Public Health, was founded in 1915. Previously, the medical school had an active bacteriological laboratory, and both bacteriology and sanitary science were part of the Medical School curriculum. Irving Fisher, professor of political economy, suggested in 1907 that with the combined resources of the Medical School, the Sheffield Scientific School, and the Department of Economics, Yale could offer a program to train health officers for work in public health. A proposal was drafted by Fisher, George Blumer, professor of medicine, and Lafayette B. Mendel, professor of physiological chemistry, but was rejected as too unfocussed.
In 1914, in response to the fundraising campaign at the Centennial of the Medical School, the family of Anna M.R. Lauder donated the then large sum of $500,000 to endow a chair of public health. The recipient was to be a physician who would be an advocate for public health and lead the reform of the Board of Health and public health legislation in the state of Connecticut. Charles-Edward Amory Winslow was appointed to the Anna M.R. Lauder Chair of Public Health in 1915.
Prominent faculty gather in this undated photograph. Ira Hiscock is in the first row (center). To his left is the school’s founder, C.-E.A. Winslow (hands clasped). John Rodman Paul is to the far left. Of note, the Department of Public Health admitted African-American students at a time when neither the School of Medicine nor the School of Nursing did. When accreditation was introduced in 1947, The Department of Public Health became a fully accredited school of public health while also functioning as a department of the Medical School. Instruction covered public health administration, industrial medicine, hospital administration, maternal and child health, mental hygiene, biostatistics, epidemiology, public health nursing, health education and environmental health.
Dorothy Horstmann (1911-2001)
Dorothy Horstmann, the John Rodman Paul Professor of Epidemiology and Professor of Pediatrics, joined the Section of Preventive Medicine in 1942 as a Commonwealth Fellow and joined the Yale Poliomyelitis Unit in 1943. Among her many notable scientific achievements, Dr. Horstmann demonstrated that the poliovirus reached the nervous system via the blood, a discovery that made later polio vaccines possible. She went on to evaluate an oral vaccine program in Russia and studied the effectiveness of a rubella vaccine. In 1961, she became the first female full professor at the Yale School of Medicine and in 1961 she became the first woman at Yale to hold an endowed chair. Dr. Horstmann was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Rockefeller Foundation arranged to move its viral laboratories from New York to the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale and funded a major part of the construction of LEPH. In 1964, the Rockefeller Foundation Viral Laboratories moved to the new building and became the Yale Arbovirus Research Unit (YARU). This brought to Yale a group of the world's leading authorities on insect-borne viral infections—including Nobel Prize winner Max Theiler, professor of epidemiology and public health at Yale from 1964 to 1967. The World Health Organization recognized YARU as the International Reference Centre for Arboviruses.
Laboratory of Epidemiology and Public Health (LEPH), completed 1964, dedicated 1965
LEPH rises. The school’s status was symbolized by a building separate, but connected, to the adjacent medical school. Noted American architect Philip Johnson, whose works include the Seagram Building and Four Seasons Restaurant in NYC, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza in Dallas, the Boston Public Library and the Das Amerikan Business Center in Berlin, designed the building. Closer to home, Johnson also designed the Klein Biology Tower at Yale and his personal residence—The Glass House in New Canaan, Conn. LEPH was built with funds from the Rockefeller Foundation and matching funds from the University, the Avalon and Johnson foundations and the Baroness von Eberfeld.